Highlight: The 4-cylinder turbo pushes out 355 horses from underneath the hood. This type of power rivals many 6-cylinder engines.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $63,815 (Base Model starts at $48,375)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: air bags (front, side, knee and front windows); a tire pressure monitoring system; ABS; an electronic parking brake; brake assist system; and stability control

Standard Equipment: 3-position memory front power seats; pseudo-leather; a manually operated tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel; automatic headlights; a stop-and-start economy fuel saver; automatic turn-on headlamps; and an AMG performance package

Suspension System:

Front- Three link, coil springs, McPherson gas-filled struts

Rear- Four link, coil springs, gas-filled struts

Standard Audio:

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty:

4 years or 50,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes

USB and iPod Compatibility: Yes

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo/355-horsepower

0 to 60mph (sec): 4.5 estimated

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 23-city/31-hwy

Other Trim Levels:

CLA 250 (non AMG model)

What’s New: The CLA45 AMG is the high-performance version of the brand’s newest entry level sedan, the CLA.

Pros: There is so much to like about this sedan, which is truly a geared toward driving enthusiasts who love performance vehicles. While there are some dramatic effects with the exterior, and particularly with the 19-inch black wheels and the quad exhaust pipes, the real art work is with the interior. The sculpted Recaro leather form-fitting front seats, the AMG performance suede-and-leather steering wheel and the red-stitching, which surrounds every nook and cranny of the cabin, turns the CLA45 AMG to a rolling art gallery.

Underneath the hood, this vivacious compact is driven by a fuel-efficient, but seemingly powerful 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo, which whines-up as it pumps out 355 horses.

Our vehicle was outfitted with over $12,000 in factory installed options. Some of the features included one of the best crystal clear audio systems we’ve experienced, a 450-watt Harman/Kardon satellite radio with a 6-disc cd changer. The option list was also packed in a rear view camera, heated front seats, a dual climate control system, an oversized sunroof and an advanced parallel parking assist system.

Furthermore, our high-performance sedan was outfitted with a Driver’s Package, which consisted of electronic blind spot mirrors, a lane changing keep assist system and a radar-activated cruise control system.

Cons: While the styling of the vehicle popped both inside and out, as a result of the AMG detailing, many found the price to be a little high, even for a Mercedes. When Mercedes owners encounter the vehicle on the street and inquired about the price, even they took a double take.

And, since there is currently no super-performance luxury competitor in this segment, Mercedes-Benz can capitalize on this niche segment for now, until the Cadillac’s ATS, which is slated to add-on a V-Performance Series that will push out over 400 horses arrives on the scene later this year.

In fact, the ATS Premium, which is currently available with an all-wheel drive system powered by a 6-cylinder, pushes out 321 horses for approximately $52,000. The ATS has 34 less horses and is thousands less than the CLA45 AMG. So, the question we’re all asking is the CLA45 AMG a little too pricey?

Furthermore, when the audio system is turned off, we found that the system 6-inch iPad-like fixed pop-up infotainment screen can’t display the rear camera. In the eyes of most drivers, shouldn’t the rear camera work regardless of if the audio system is on-or-off? We were also disappointed that this well-equipped vehicle lacked both a push-button ignition starter and a keyless entry access system for both the doors and the trunk.

Lastly, as it relates to the fun factor, why isn’t there a manual transmission available in the CLA45 AMG? Yes, there is a segment of the population who prefers a true manual and not the automatic controlled shifters.

The Verdict: We can’t deny that the CLA has been a home run for Mercedes-Benz. The vehicle is truly brining in a new buyer to the brand’s showroom. While the basic CLA is popular, the CLA45 AMG just enhances the fun factor, with its performance-oriented entry-level sedan. To us, it’s truly a work of art on wheels, especially when seated behind the wheel. Although pricing is an issue for us, we believe Mercedes-Benz will manage to overcome the price premium with this vehicle. We believe Mercedes-Benz has a winner on its hands!

Competition: Cadillac ATS with the 3.6L-6-cylinder


Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to Follow him @ Twitter/JeffCars.



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