SPECS AND VERDICT Model Engine
The swoopy roof doesn’t help the ergonomics, but it looks good. Besides, passengers will weigh you down and you certainly don’t want the extra kilos slowing your progress. Not when this car’s remit is to deliver exceptional performance.
And deliver it does. Featuring the same snappy seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as the A 45 AMG, the CLA feels just as dynamic as the bootless wonder in spite of it lugging an extra 30kg.
It tips the scales at 1,585kg (you’ll wonder where the extra mass is hiding as it doesn’t translate on the road) but the added weight is brought on by Affalterbach’s decision to utilise all-wheel drive (with a front-wheel bias) for this hard-core model. It’s a good job, as with the enormously powerful Honeywell turbocharger putting out a huge 26.1 psi of boost and 360bhp at your disposal, you need all four wheels digging in. But it’s hard to break the tail loose, meaning you can enter corners at a far greater pace. And when you do sense a bit of understeer you can correct it by flooring the throttle; the back end hunkers down, straightens up and you’re out of harm’s way.
The steering (speed-dependent, electrically assisted rack) is nicely weighted and offers just about enough feedback during turnin, while the brakes provide lots of stopping power. However, in stop-go traffic, they feel a little grabby.
It suffers from quite a bit of lag and the only way to get it to play is to drive it in Manual mode (Comfort and Sport are your other two) and this way, it’s far easier to exploit the seven-speed. Before you know it, you’ll be closing in on its 250kph limit – when that turbo eventually spools up and hits the torque band’s sweet spot.
On the move, you’ll be treated to a chorus of snap-crackle-pop sounds from the AMG exhaust, which add to the fun factor of driving this car – but soon become cumbersome. I mean, at 1,000rpm, it’s still making those “braap” sounds when you flick the paddles, which is just weird when you’re only going 30kph.
Regardless, this thing drives as tight as the hatch and has all the DNA of AMG thanks to that handbuilt V8. Oh, I beg your pardon, four-pot. Easy mistake to make.
Those in the rear better not be of the six-foot variety or they’ll have a neck ache to contend with