This is the new Mercedes-AMG CLA35 4Matic four-door coupe. Not to be confused with the Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic hatchback and saloon, the latter of which was unveiled only last week.
It’s easy to be confused, though. All three of these AMG 35s are powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine producing 306hp and 295lb/ft of torque. All three have a 7-speed, Speedshift dual-clutch gearbox. All three have 4Matic four-wheel-drive. And all three are based on Mercedes’ latest small car platform. In due course, there will also be a crossover that uses the same platform and powertrain.
But for now the CLA35 sits at the top of Mercedes’ small car tree. That it looks like the CLS’s little brother is no coincidence and no bad thing; it’s certainly a looker, all swoops and sweeps. The interior is suitably posh, too. Tick all the option boxes, including the brilliant dual-screen infotainment system, and the insides do a convincing impersonation of an S-Class. Helpfully, there’s a lot more space for people and things than in the last CLA, as well.
As the AMG badge suggests, though, the CLA35 is mostly about going fast. Which it is. Very. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 4.9 seconds and top speed is limited to 155mph. Most of the time, the power is sent to the front wheels only, but the four-wheel-drive system can send up to 50 per cent to the rear wheels.
AMG’s boffins have strengthened the CLA35’s bodyshell and went through the suspension with a fine-toothed comb, upgrading various components to make sure it doesn’t fall over in corners. Adaptive dampers are available as an option with the AMG Ride Control system.
This is isn’t a hardcore road racer, though. An AMG A45 is expected to be launched later this year, with a rumoured 400hp-plus, which will fill that role. The A45’s engine will eventually filter through to the other models in the small car range. The difference between AMG 35 and AMG 45 is the same as that between the Audi S3 and RS3.
Mercedes hasn’t yet announced prices for the AMG CLA35 4Matic. The CLA carries a premium of nearly £5,000 over the equivalent A-Class hatchback, so expect an entry-point of around £40,000.
By Graham King