First Drive Review: Mercedes-AMG CLA

Independent review by Maxine Ashford

5-minute read

Mercedes-AMG CLA Rear Side

First Drive: Mercedes-AMG CLA

Explore the key features of the Mercedes-AMG CLA in our expert first drive review

New Mercedes-AMG CLA


The Mercedes-AMG CLA is a driver-focused model, delivering remarkable performance.


  • Incredible performance
  • Engaging to drive
  • Top-level technology
  • Luxurious
New Mercedes-AMG CLA


Rarely does a car come along with aggressive, dynamic styling and the thrilling performance to back it up – the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus is one of the exceptions.

With its gorgeous coupé streamlining, plus an engine and exhaust soundtrack guaranteed to raise eyebrows, this car seemingly has it all. And sitting in the AMG range, the CLA packs punchy performance that will see you take the roads by storm.

Design and Practicality

Eye-catching design cues on this racing-inspired model include the AMG-specific radiator grille, AMG rear apron with diffuser look and AMG spoiler, an AMG aerodynamics package. Plus, an AMG Night package adds lots of high gloss black trimmings, a panoramic roof, multibeam LED headlights, four exhaust pipes and 19-inch AMG alloys with red brake calipers.

That AMG theme is just as apparent within the cabin with plenty of badging throughout, along with performance seats with fixed head restraints, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, 64-colour ambient lighting, the finest leather upholstery and soft touch materials.

Powered seats mean it is easy to find the perfect driving position, and they can be heated to fend off the winter chill. There is space in the back for a couple of passengers, although legroom becomes a tad limited if the front seats are pushed well back.

The boot can hold 460 litres of kit and there are convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including door bins with drinks holder, a cubby box beneath the armrest, glovebox, cupholders and a covered tray with a wireless charging pad. Back seat passengers get pull-out cupholders in the fold-down armrest, along with a small compartment where two extra Type C USB ports are located.

Equipment and Technology

On-board technology is plentiful with two 10.25-inch touchscreens, a Burmester sound system, full smartphone connectivity, the impressive MBUX multimedia system with navigation, and a media display with lots of extra AMG-specific content which is excellent for analysing track data.

But, for ‘normal’ day-to-day driving, the information on the screens can be tailored to your needs via steering wheel controls and the graphics are really sharp. The touchscreen is easily accessed via a touchpad with additional quick keys for certain functions.

Engine and Performance

So this car has the looks and all the bells and whistles to accompany them, but what about that performance? The answer is simple – the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus Coupé is a driving purist’s dream car. The acceleration is blisteringly quick as it fires through the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, achieving the 0 to 62mph sprint in just 4.0 seconds.

Powering the AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus is a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine delivering 415bhp and a whopping 369lb ft of torque.

The top speed is limited to 155mph, but you just know without the restrictions, the car would go much faster. In regard to the running costs, the Mercedes can deliver a combined 33.6mpg with carbon emissions of 189g/km.

The power is relentless and there are even various drive modes to sharpen up the responses even further. These are called Slippery, Individual, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and RACE. Accessing these modes is a simple process via a dial on the steering wheel – that means your focus remains on the road instead of searching through fiddly touchscreen menus.

The car boasts Mercedes 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, with, for the first time, a Drift mode.

The road holding is ultra-grippy and bends can be attacked with confidence with pin sharp reactions and steering wheel mounted paddles for extra driver engagement.
Maxine Ashford

The steering is perfectly weighted with all the feedback necessary and, despite its firepower, the car maintains a sense of invincibility.

And then when a moment of calm is called for, switch across to Comfort and the world seems to spin at a slower pace. The ride is more controlled and this is the ideal mode for trundling through congested city centres – unless, of course, you want the attention the enhanced exhaust sound attracts.

Comfort levels within this 4-door coupe are high, and the adaptive suspension means that some smaller dips and bumps in the road are well cushioned. You will feel quite a lot of jolts from our dreadful roads, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for such a brilliant all-round performance.


All in all, this new Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus is quite the complete package for anyone who wants a car that drives as beautifully as it looks without stepping into supercar expenses along the way.

No matter what you throw at it, this Mercedes-AMG model comes out the other side with a swagger in its step, thanks to the wealth of technology, safety kit, and power the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus delivers.