Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 4Matic 2016 first drive

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Coupe and Shooting Brake have been the recipients of an update for the 2016 model-year.

Robert Barry
Robert Barry
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Coupe and Shooting Brake have been the recipients of an update for the 2016 model-year with a mild interior and exterior makeover, as well as engine and transmission enhancements.

Exterior full starfull starfull starfull starempty star

4

Drive full starfull starfull starfull starhalf star

4.5

Safety full starfull starfull starfull starfull star

5

Value full starfull starfull starhalf starempty star

3.5

Overall score 4.3 / 5

The good
  • High-specifications
  • Looks great
  • Responsive
The not-so-good
  • The price

Inside and out

The changes in appearance are so subtle you'd have to be an AMG trainspotter to notice the difference, but there is a new front grille, LED headlamps and a reprofiled lower front bumper with black highlights. The styling of the rear bumper has a new trim strip flush mounted between the tailpipes, and it also received new black highlights for a more aggressive stance.

In Mercedes-AMG parlance, this is the "Night Package" which includes a blackened beltline, tailpipes, exterior mirrors and side sill panel inserts. However, the body colour matching spoiler on the boot lid adds more maturity to the smallest AMG coupe, making it look a little less boy-racer than before.

Inside the cabin has also received an update, and we particularly liked the new look carbon fibre treatment of the dashboard, the new circular knob for the dynamic select system, and the cloth hand grips on the AMG sports steering wheel which adds a nice tactile feel. 

The AMG bucket seats for the driver and front passenger grip well during hard and fast motoring through corners. Both the front and rear seats are very comfortable over long distances.

When we first drove the test car Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Coupe in 2014, we discovered it could be an angry little critter similar to a buzzing wasp.

On the road

Thankfully, the recent makeover hasn't changed that character, nor the bark from its sports exhaust system.

Just like the late Mohammed Ali, the AMG CLA 45 can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. It has the capability to be both sublimely capable around a corner thanks to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, and ridiculously fast in a straight line thanks to the improved engine.

The hand-built 2-litre direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine has received another 15 kilowatts of power. It remains the most powerful 2.0-litre production engine in the world, producing 280 kW and maximum torque of 475 Nm, giving the car a 0 - 100 km/h time of 4.2 seconds for the Coupe.

As well as the power upgrade, the CLA 45 also received the addition of the AMG Dynamic Select system, offering driving modes such as comfort sport, sports plus, and race, depending on the driver's mood and preference.

It also received shorter gear ratios for the Speedshift dual-clutch transmission which has further improved the vehicle's response to the cloven hoof. Mercedes-AMG quotes fuel consumption of 7.4L/100km; we didn't get within an angry bull's roar of that figure.

Standard equipment for the CLA 45 coupe and shooting brake (wagon) includes 19-inch alloy wheels, driver’s package, performance exhaust, high-performance braking system, performance seats, online navigation and a Harmon Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system as standard.

There are nine airbags, active brake assist, blind-spot assist, attention assist and an active bonnet.

The Mercedes’ Pre-Safe system, which prepares occupants when the car senses a collision is imminent is also a standard feature of the AMG CLA 45 as is the Distronic active cruise control and lane detection system.

Overall

Owners of the previous model year CLA 45 AMG cars won't feel short-changed by the new models, as the fundamentals of the car feel unchanged, it was always a good thing; now it's just a little bit better.

Regardless of whether you prefer the style of the AMG CLA 45 Coupe or Shooting Brake, both retail at $115,500.

Note: this was reviewed as a new vehicle.

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Robert Barry
Robert Barry
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

I've been reviewing cars, vans, utes, trucks, and almost any other contraption with wheels and an engine since 2003. My dream car is a classic W123 series Mercedes-Benz 280CE.

Opinions are my own and not those of Trade Me.