The CLA 45S is a fine blend of chic looks, relative practicality and mad performance.Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The CLA 45S is a fine blend of chic looks, relative practicality and mad performance.Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Some people might look at the new range of the 45S-badged Mercedes-AMG A-Class range and say a four-cylinder AMG is boring. For these people, an epic AMG must wield a turbocharged V8 and bellow like an angry kaiju. I recently stepped out of a 45S with a wide smile and a racing pulse.

This four-door coupe is one of two options available if you want to drive the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine. The other is the hatchback A45S, and their numbers are pretty much identical: 310kW, 500Nm and a claimed 0-100km/h time of 4.0 sec for the CLA, with the hatch doing the sprint in 3.9 sec. Both have a 270km/h top end.

The test car was painted in a special matt Designo mountain grey — a R33,600 option — and blackened AMG cross-spoke forged wheels, which will put a R32,600 hole in your pocket.

And because it’s a top-tier model, it also gets the AMG grille with its vertical slats, which adds to the belligerent feel. 

You sit in tightfitting, leather bucket seats surrounded by the typical AMG sporty luxury interior trappings. There are buttons that alter engine, transmission and the stiffness of the dampers to match your mood. 

In Comfort mode, the CLA45S is docile, muted and a touch aristocratic. But because it never wallows or completely softens, it fails to completely hide the motorsport potions coursing through its suspension.

You cruise comfortably enough while showing off its swoopy shape, which is differentiated from the A-Class sedan through a roof line that dips aggressively from the B-pillars. It’s actually longer than its sedan cousin by 110mm and doesn’t short-change headroom for rear occupants, nor does it skimp on boot capacity despite having an unfoldable rear bench. It yields 460l of usable space.

The interior is typical Mercedes-AMG sporty luxury while passengers will also not feel too cramped. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior is typical Mercedes-AMG sporty luxury while passengers will also not feel too cramped. Picture: SUPPLIED

A leisurely and long night-time trip in the CLA 45S returned 14.1l/100km and showcased Mercedes technology, such as the vehicle constantly tracking its every move and self-braking if it detects a stop sign or intersection.

The optional active headlight system with auto high beam is also much improved in its reactions to oncoming traffic and illuminating dark spots on the road.   

The 45S turbo-four is a stonker and you need to experience its rapidness to believe it. Its all-wheel-drive 4Matic+ underpinnings do a good job of maintaining traction on tarmac when you want to get along with the business of driving fast.

It feels pinned down, but you can never be fully relaxed, such is the ferocious thrust of this little coupe.

It also has a mechanical limited-slip differential, which gives it enormous grip levels under power. If you are feeling confident of your driving skills, and provided you are at a racetrack or skid pan, drift mode adds to the oodles of fun that can be had.

One of the complaints is the asking price. The test car arrived loaded with features that shot up its price by more than R200,000 above its already eye-watering R1,269,480 base.

However, what it does on the roads and to your ticker justifies the premium. It feels capable of keeping up with pricier sports car, which makes it a bargain rocket of sorts.

TECH SPECS

ENGINE

Type: Turbo four-cylinder petrol

Capacity: 2.0l

Power: 310kW

Torque: 500Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Eight-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN

Type: 4Matic+ all-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE (claimed)

Top speed: 270km/h

0-100km/h: 4.0 seconds

Fuel consumption: 8.3l/100km (claimed), 14.1l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 189g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Stability control, ABS brakes, brake assist, seven airbags, auto on/off xenon lights, high-beam assist, daytime driving running lights, cruise control, folding exterior mirrors, keyless start, auxiliary input, USB, Bluetooth, rain sensor wipers, air conditioning, climate control, suede-cloth and artificial leather upholstery

OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Two years/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R1,269,480

Lease*: R27,067 a month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45S 4Matic+

WE LIKE: Looks, rowdy performance, handling

WE DISLIKE: Relatively low list of standard features

VERDICT: A stylish giant slayer

Motor News star rating

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Performance * * * * *

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Competition

BMW M2 CS, 331kW/550Nm — R1,615,744

Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0, 294kW/420Nm — R1,454,000

Mercedes-AMG A45S hatch 4Matic+, 310kW/500Nm — R1,156,840

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