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Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG v HSV GTS drag race

We pit the world's fastest 4-cylinder sedan against Australia's most powerful car.

PT3M49S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2v5nz 620 349

Price: From $86,900 plus on-road costs

Vitals: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 265kW, 450Nm, 7-sp dual-clutch auto, 7.0L/100km, AWD

What is it?

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG Click for more photos

First Drive Review: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

A downsized CLS 63 AMG.

What it isn’t?

A dilution of what AMG stands for. It’s still incredibly fast, luxurious and stylish. It’s got the most powerful four-cylinder turbo engine on the market today, a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel drive.

What does it say about me?

That you’ve always wanted a CLS 63 AMG - or even a C63 - but couldn’t afford it until now.

Who else is buying it?

People who don’t need the size of a CLS but like its style. It mimics the lines of its bigger brother but still looks well proportioned.

What colours does it come in?

There are nine hues to choose from including a sinister looking black or a look-at-me purple.

If it were a celebrity, who would it be?

Chris Pine. A new generation of action star. In the same way Pine rejuvenated Star Trek’s Captain Kirk for a new generation so to does the CLA45 for AMG.

Why would I buy it?

Because it's fast. Really fast. AMG claims 0-100km/h comes up in 4.6 seconds and in our experience that’s a claim to be believed.

Will it let me down?

Mercedes has rightly earned a reputation for building bullet-proof machines.

Does it cost too much?

That really does depend on how you look at it. On the one hand $86,900 is a lot of money for a small car - you can by an E200 for only $79,900, for example. But when you consider the CLA45 can match a Porsche 911 0-100km/h then it looks like pretty good value.

Will I get a deal?

Not likely. The CLA has already become a sales hit and supply is more of a problem than demand, so there’s no need for the dealers to be cutting deals.

Is it safe?

It’s got nine airbags, collision prevention detection, blindspot warning and attention assist plus the usual ESP and ABS.

Will it get me noticed?

If the taut lines don't turn heads the bark from the exhaust will.

How’s the cabin ambience?

It’s my favourite Mercedes interior. Maybe because I’m younger than the average Benz buyer, and that’s who the CLA is aimed at. I love the combination of retro round aircon vents and modern iPad-style infotainment screen. The AMG touches, like the chunky steering wheel, chubby gear lever and body-hugging sports seats only add to the enjoyment.

What’s the stereo like?

It’s an impressive 12-speaker Harman Kardon system that includes a 10GB music hard drive, CD/DVD player and digital radio.

Does it go?

What impresses more than the 0-100km/h time is the way the CLA45 accelerates in the real world. On an average piece of coarse chip bitumen, out of a hairpin bend I planted the accelerator and the CLA45 just launched itself down the road. No fuss, no drama, no flickering stability control light - it just feeds its immense power to all four tyres and rockets down the road.

Does it like corners?

It eats them up. Its short dimensions means the CLA45 feels agile and responsive in the bends. In fact, it feels better in tight, twisty bends than any of its more expensive AMG siblings like the C63.

What about bumps?

It’s firm, but not unreasonably so. It’s a performance car so the suspension is stiffer than your average Mercedes, but the AMG boffins have managed to find a nice balance between control and composure.

What about service stations?

The claimed figure is 7.0-litres per 100km on the combined cycle. Driven sedately that figure actually seems achievable in the real world. But you’re unlikely to even achieve it because it would take serious self-restraint not to unleash this car - at least once - each time you drive it.

Would you buy one?

I’d seriously consider it. The only thing that I don’t like is the price and that the A45 AMG hatchback is $12,000 cheaper, just as quick and has slightly more head room in the back seat.

What else should I consider?

If you don’t want either Benz and want to stay European then you could put the Audi S3 ($59,900) and BMW M135i ($64,900) on your list as rapid small cars. But for similar money you could also grab an HSV Clubsport R8 ($73,290) or Audi SQ5 ($89,400) which offer equivalent performance and more space.

The Spin

“The new four-door high-performance coupé offers an exceptional combination of an excitingly sporty driving experience, extravagant design and exclusive individuality.”

The Translation

It may be the smallest sedan we make, but we didn't scrimp on anything with this one