I had the pleasure of driving two of the most revered performance cars from Mercedes Benz back to back, with the same engines, but markedly different styling, namely, the A45 S 4-MATIC & the CLA 45 S 4-MATIC. Both promise outstanding performance & the ultimate driving dynamics and expressive design, the new Mercedes-AMG compact A 45 S 4MATIC+ Hatch and CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ are set to reassert their leading positions in their segments.
Mercedes has completely transformed their 45 models – from the engine and transmission through the chassis, the elaborately constructed drivetrain to the body structure and of course the design itself – all with one goal: to raise vehicle dynamics and the sporty driving experience to a level previously unimaginable in the compact class. In my opinion, they have done just that.
South Africans love the AMG brand: in fact, it’s the third biggest market in the world.
Both models have the distinctive AMG look, the Mercedes-AMG 45 S range visual cues include an AMG-specific radiator grille, wider front wings with flared wheel arches to create space for the wider front axle, and a front apron featuring a “jet-wing” design. Wider AMG side skirts visually lower it, while the rear view is characterised by two pairs of round 90mm-diameter tailpipes with internal fluting and AMG lettering.
The S-models come standard with 19-inch light alloy wheels in a 5-twin-spoke design – with a width of 8.5 inches for the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+ and 9 inches for the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+. The attractive aluminium rims are shod with tyres in size 245/35 R 19 and 255/35 R 19 (CLA 45 S) respectively. I had the A45 S in racing yellow, the same as the A35, and the CLA 45 S in a more mature silver colour. Both were awesome. They really are good looking cars, not sure if they receive the admiring glances for their performance pedigree, or for the good looks.
Interior: close symbiosis between man and machine
Without being repetitive, the same applies for these models, as for the A35. The interior has a close connection between the driver and the car, and with MBUX, even more so. MBUX creates an even closer connection between the vehicle, driver and passengers. Users can choose between three AMG display styles for the instrument cluster: Classic, Sport, and Supersport.
The Supersport mode is particularly striking, with a central, round rev counter and additional information presented in the form of bars to the left and right of the rev counter. With a three-dimensional perspective, they reach far into the background to an artificial horizon.
And needless to say, the trailblazing voice control activated with the words “Hey Mercedes” is also on-board. This comes in handy, but a lot is sometimes lost intranslation, which can lead to confusion and frustration.
For those who fancy themselves on the race track, AMG TRACK PACE, the virtual race engineer, is standard equipment for the S-models. When negotiating a race circuit, it continuously monitors more than 80 vehiclespecific data points, including lap and sector times. After putting in some fast laps, the driver can use the data to analyse and, if necessary, improve their driving skills.
Drive system: new turbocharged four-cylinder with ample power
At the heart of each vehicle is the world’s most powerful turbocharged fourcylinder engine manufactured for series production. The newly developed 2.0- litre engine reaches a peak of up 310kW and 500Nm in each AMG S model. This results in a 0-100km/h sprint time of just 3.9 seconds for the A45 S 4MATIC+ Hatch and 4.0 seconds for the CLA 45 S 4MATIC+.
Let’s be straight here, these cars are mucho rapido, and you need to know what you are doing. Thankfully, I have done a number of AMG driving courses at Zwartkops with their academy, so that helps loads. They are stunningly quick, and handling due to the 4-MATIC, is fantastic. The A45 S did get a bit tail happy, but my favorite, the CLA 45S was rock steady. Perhaps my age gives me away, but I loved the latter model way more.
The new, highly efficient powerpack is produced on an innovative production line in Affalterbach, on the “One Man, One Engine” principle. The engine has intelligent design features such as a firewall-adjacent 2.1-bar twin-scroll turbo and exhaust manifold, two-stage piezo injectors, an electronically controlled wastegate, and multiple water pumps to cool the cylinder head and crankcase separately. The cylinder linings are coated in a patented Nanoslide mirror-like coating that comes directly from F1 engines.
AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8G dual-clutch transmission.
The standard transmission is an eight-speed DCT. This is an important cog in the machinery, and this gearbox is on point. Smooth changing, and you have paddles to gear down if you need to. The standard RACE-START function allows maximum acceleration from stationary. Anyone who prefers to change gear for themselves can select the manual transmission mode in every drive program.
All-wheel drive is included as standard, with AMG TORQUE CONTROL in the new rear axle differential: This has two electronically controlled multidisc clutches, each of which is connected to a rear axle drive shaft. In this way the drive power can not only be completely variably distributed between the front and rear wheels, but also selectively between the left and right rear wheel.
The result is consistently optimum traction, even in adverse road conditions and during extreme cornering manoeuvres, for example on the racetrack. Furthermore, this sophisticated solution allows Drift mode, as a standard, included in the optional AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package, which makes “powersliding” possible.
Drivers can choose from six AMG DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual and RACE as a standard. This allows a wide spread of vehicle characteristics, from comfortable to dynamic. The exhaust system gives out authentic race sounds, which lead to more fun.
Technical data at a glance
|Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+||Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+|
|Engine||2.0-litre 4 in-line with roller bearing twinscroll turbocharger||2.0-litre 4 in-line with roller bearing twinscroll turbocharger|
|Displacement||1991 cc||1991 cc|
|Max. output||310 kW at 6750 rpm||310 kW at 6750 rpm|
|Peak torque||500 Nm at 5000-5250 rpm||500 Nm at 5000-5250 rpm|
|Drive system||AMG Performance 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel drive with AMG TORQUE CONTROL||AMG Performance 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel drive with AMG TORQUE CONTROL|
|Transmission||AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8G dualclutch transmission||AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8G dualclutch transmission|
|Combined fuel consumption||8.4-8.3 l/100 km*||8.3-8.1 l/100 km*|
|Combined CO2 emissions||192-189 g/km*||189-186 g/km*|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h||3.9 s||4.0 s|
|Top speed||270 km/h***||270 km/h***|
|Retail price||R1 101 000||R1 211 000|
These models were great to drive, a bit expensive, but if you have the money, are an attractive buy, and would certainly be on my list.