The current CLA’s design looks like an actual Mercedes-Benz product both inside and out.
When Mercedes-Benz released the CLA several years ago to compete in the entry level luxury compact sedan arena, it certainly did its job winning consumers over that could have otherwise gone with a loaded mainstream vehicle. In order to compete, Mercedes-Benz went with a front-drive platform to cut costs, but also brought an AMG variant into the mix. There are now two levels of performance available, and we have here the 2022 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4MATIC.
Compared to the original CLA that felt like it was thrown together by committee, the current design looks like an actual Mercedes-Benz product both inside and out. The lines and curves blend well from front to back. The fascia on our CLA 35 invokes its aggressive demeanor, and the LED lights look fantastic and elevate the overall look. The coupe-like raked roofline is handsome and definitely stands out in a sea of beige, silver and grey, especially in the sharp yellow of our test vehicle.
The interior is a decent place to spend time for the daily commute, however it is a bit snug, especially for rear seat occupants, as the roofline cuts into usable headroom. Those looking at this price point but who require more headroom will want to sway towards the A-Class sedan. Front passengers won’t have this issue, and at six-foot-three I was comfortable.
My only real gripe is liberal use of hard plastic bits and piano black throughout the cabin, which is prone to scratching and fingerprints. The rest of the interior is made up of soft quality materials that work well with the overall design and fall in line with its sporty nature. The interior ambient lighting is customizable and a snap to change to go along with your mood. Touches such as the turbine-like vents, sport seats and aluminum pedals are nice to look at as well.
Two 10.25 inch high definition digital screens sit up front to highlight the technology in the CLA 35, housing the MBUX interface. Note that if you want Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you’ll need to opt for the Premium Package at $3700. MBUX does have a significant learning curve and lacks shortcuts for some frequent functions, but it has aged fairly well in the last two or three years that it has been on the market. It allows for plenty of customization.
For those who desire more performance than the standard CLA 250’s 220-horsepower, Mercedes has two AMG units offered, both the CLA 45 and this milder CLA 35. This model has a de-tuned version of the 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder, offering 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. It’s matched to a snappy seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system that allows for a 4.9-second sprint from 0-100km/h.
Built on a front-drive platform, the 4MATIC system can shift 50 percent of its power towards the rear wheels. This is where the AMG CLA 35 pulls off its best Audi S3 impersonation. For long standing Mercedes-Benz owners raised on rear-drive layouts, this may be a huge turnoff but new-age customers to the brand will be more than happy with its overall drivability and performance.
The ride is composed as expected with any product carrying the Mercedes-Benz name. It takes the worst potholes and roads to disturb those inside when in comfort mode. Turn the steering wheel mounted dial up to Sport or Sport+ for a substantially stiffer ride. A double wishbone front and multi link rear AMG suspension layout can be found underneath, and our tester is equipped with the available AMG Ride Control option for adaptive damping.
Considering the level of performance and how hard the car was driven over the week, I was impressed with overall fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km. Mercedes-Benz Canada prices the AMG CLA 35 at $52,100 to start, but adding on options such as the Premium Package, AMG Driver’s Package, Advanced Drivers Assistance, Technology package and AMG Aerodynamics package bring this tester to nearly $70,000.
When compared to cars like the Audi S3 or BMW M235i Gran Coupe, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA35 is leagues ahead in overall design and technology. It checks off all the boxes in terms of design, technology, performance and comfort with a balanced demeanour for those who want a sedate commuter with some adrenaline on-demand.