Driven | Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+

We got treated to some skidpan time and track time in the hot new ‘baby’ AMG range a few weeks back and were very impressed but how does the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S package work on our roads as a daily.

On the styling front, they have hit it out of the park thanks to the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coupé similarities and the cabin is like no other in the class.

Under the bonnet you will find the M139 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit delivering 416 hp (310 kW) and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque. These figures are good for a 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) sprint time of as little as four seconds flat, and if you keep your foot flat, you will top out at 270 km/h (168 mph).

As the name suggests, the all-wheel-drive traction (4MATIC+) plays a huge part in how this car handles and the no-nonsense launch control will catch you by surprise over and over again. It rockets off the line with not an ounce of drama and before you know it, you are well above the legal limits of the road.

There is hardly any turbo lag and letting the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox do its work in Sport and Sport+ mode is rather rewarding and it’s not just the outright speed, it’s also the linear fashion in which it delivers the power that will keep you wanting more. As you hit the throttle, you can feel the superbly sharp throttle response and mid-range boost, and the way the eight-speed DCT bangs through the gears with an emphasis on double de-clutching on the downshifts will have you switching off the audio for good.

It’s not just the performance aspects of the car we like either, but perhaps even more surprising is the damper control and range of damping between the various drive modes. Yes, of course, it is still firm (it’s a full-blown AMG) but we were not expecting this level of ride comfort from an angry AMG.

There are no more jolts on uneven and badly maintained roads and it cruises over speed bumps too without pulling something off the front end. In our view, this is what hampered some of the previous AMG cars and it seems the ability to drive a new AMG as a comfortable daily is now here.

Overall, the CLA 45 S is a substantial improvement than its predecessor; quicker, better to look at, more pleasant inside, and with a more adjustable and involving chassis but that comes at a price.

A rather big one at that. At the time of writing, the base price sits at R1,211,000 (excl C02 tax) and a quick look on the market indicates a decent spec will set you back a cool R1,4 to R1.5 million. That puts this car in some serious territory and we are hearing whispers that the price could climb even more which will certainly hamper sales.

Along with its superior performance, the interior fit-out is just as spectacular and with cutting-edge infotainment and technology and daily driver status to boot, it makes for a compelling proposition for any enthusiast in this segment.

In this class, there is nothing that moves faster than the CLA 45 S (for now) but if there is one thing that moves faster than it, it seems to be the purchase price.

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