NEW YORK, NY – Remember when Europeans had all the fun small cars and all we got was the leftovers – fuel-sipping versions with gutless engines and soggy suspensions?
Times have changed. We now have access to some hot little VWs and Fords and both Audi and BMW have sub-compacts on offer, albeit weak sisters compared to their European siblings.
Now Mercedes-Benz is about to shake up the small-car landscape with a road rocket like no other – the 2014 CLA45 AMG. And it gorgeous to look at as well.
This product of the mad minds at AMG has the most powerful production four-cylinder engine on the planet – 355 horsepower and a whopping 332 lb-ft of torque.
Instead of watching all that power go up in tire smoke or listening helplessly as traction control struggles to prevent that from happening, the CLA AMG uses all four tires to get the power to the pavement, through an AMG-modified 4Matic system.
Bonus: there's no slush-box between the engine and the AWD system. Instead, there is an AMG-modified seven-speed dual-clutch Speedshift gearbox with reinforced gears and synchronizer rings, carbon-fibre friction rings and a Haldex multiplate-style clutch.
The transversely-mounted turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, all-wheel-drive and rapid-shifting transmission results in 0-100 times of 4.5-seconds according to Mercedes, which is normally conservative in such ratings.
To ensure that folks can distinguish this pocket rocket from the more sane new CLA models arriving this summer, the AMG version gets numerous changes inside and out.
A unique front bumper has larger air inlets to feed the twin-scroll turbocharger and intercooler, while big twin exhaust outlets allow spent gases easy exit and bigger wheels provide more stick.
AMG-specific instruments, seats and steering wheel, along with red seatbelts and aluminum trim, mark the interior upgrades.
Expect prices slightly north of $50,000 when the CLA45 AMG rolls off the boat early this fall.