Mercedes-AMG extends its range of 4-cyl. performance models with the introduction of the new all-wheel-drive CLA35 4Matic.
The 4-door sedan-cum-coupe is the third of Mercedes-Benz’s latest generation of compact models to receive the AMG treatment, following the A35 4Matic hatchback and the A35 4Matic sedan.
The CLA35 4Matic will be positioned beneath the 6-cyl. C43 when U.S. deliveries begin in early 2020. It is designed to compete against the BMW M230i Gran Coupe, due for introduction in 2020, as well as the Audi S3 sedan.
Despite being close in conception to the recently unveiled 4-door A35 4Matic sedan, AMG is banking on the more expressive design of the CLA35 4Matic to find favor among particular customers.
“The CLA35 4Matic is an attractive offer for a young, active lifestyle target group. These customers define their requirements very clearly: They expect exciting design alongside superior performance and inspiring handling,” says Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers.
The new AMG model receives the same transversely mounted turbocharged 2.0L gasoline 4-cyl. as the A35 4Matic hatchback and A35 4Matic sedan. Based on the M254 designated unit used by the CLA250, it produces 302 hp at 5,800 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque (400 Nm) at 3,000 rpm.
Drive is sent to all four wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and multi-plate clutch all-wheel-drive system. Mercedes-AMG says this combination can vary the drive split from 100% to the front wheels to 50:50 front and rear depending on prevailing traction.
The German automaker quotes an official 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 4.9 seconds, or 0.1 second slower than the A35 4Matic sedan, as well as an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).
By comparison, the Audi S3 sedan features a turbocharged 2.0L gasoline 4-cyl. with 306 hp and 280 lb.-ft. (380 Nm) of torque. It is claimed to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 5.2 seconds and reach the same 155-mph top speed.
Underpinning the CLA35 4Matic sedan is a retuned version of the CLA250’s MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension, which can be optioned with adaptive dampers offering three levels of stiffness. It uses wider tracks than the A35 4Matic sedan in a move AMG claims provides the CLA35 4Matic with more dynamic handling characteristics.
It also uses a variable-ratio steering system and features a strengthened body shell with an additional aluminum member incorporated beneath the engine to increase torsional rigidity, according to AMG.
Mirroring the visual changes already incorporated on the A35 4Matic sedan, the AMG version receives a heavily restyled front bumper featuring a front splitter element, larger air ducts and a revised grille. Further back there are AMG door mirrors and more prominent sills. At the rear, it adopts a similarly sporting treatment with a new rear bumper with a multi-channel diffuser and twin chromed tailpipes as well as a small lip spoiler atop its short trunklid.
The CLA35 4Matic comes as standard with 18-in. wheels, though 19-in. rims will be available in North America as an option.
Inside (above, left), AMG’s latest model comes equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX operating system, which works in combination with standard digital instruments and an infotainment display within a common panel atop the dashboard. The instruments can be customized with different modes, including a so-called Supersport mode which introduces AMG-specific data.
Further upgrades over the CLA250 include front sport seats and AMG-specific trim. As with the first-generation CLA, AMG says it plans an even more potent version of its compact model in the form of a new 400-hp-plus CLA45 4Matic to be unveiled in early 2020.