2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA35 First Look
- AMG-performance version of the redesigned CLA 4-door coupe
- 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 7-speed DCT
- 302 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque
- Accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds
- Arrives in dealerships in late 2019
To make the jump from Mercedes-Benz CLA250 to Mercedes-AMG CLA35, this CLA hews closely to the blueprint set out by the A35 sedan. Changes from the standard CLA include a revised powertrain with increased engine output, upgrades to the suspension, additional standard equipment, and specific design elements inside and out.
The CLA35 adopts the A35’s 302-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, which also makes 295 lb-ft of torque—versus 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft in the CLA’s base 2.0-liter. As in the A35, the higher-horsepower engine pairs with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (Mercedes’ Speedshift DCT) and the AMG-specific 4Matic all-wheel drive. That all-wheel-drive system can send up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels and can also apportion torque from side-to-side across the rear axle. AMG’s Race Start launch-control feature is standard, and Mercedes estimates the CLA35’s 0-to-60-mph time at 4.6 seconds.
The standard AMG Dynamic Select offers the following drive modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. They alter the throttle and transmission mapping, the steering, and the stability control system. Sport and Sport+ also activate a more robust exhaust note and cancel the auto stop-start function.
The CLA35’s firmer suspension includes AMG-specific steering knuckles and aluminum control arms, while additional bracing under the engine and in the front underbody make for a stiffer platform for the suspension. An optional adaptive damping system (AMG Ride Control) can adjust damping automatically and also offers three selectable levels of compliance.
Compared to the standard CLA, the CLA35 has special styling touches that set it apart. The grille has twin louvers flanking the 3-pointed star, there’s a revised lower front fascia, and the hood has twin power bulges. AMG-specific 18-inch wheels are standard. A lip spoiler at the trailing edge of the deck lid, a restyled rear bumper that incorporates a diffuser, and quad exhaust outlets dress up the rear. An available AMG Aerodynamics Packages can further turn up the visual wattage, and an AMG Night Package, and carbon-fiber mirror caps also are available.
Inside, the 2020 CLA35 shares the regular CLA’s MBUX Interior Assistant, which offers voice control of features via the command, “Hey, Mercedes,” similar to Amazon’s Alexa, as well as gesture-control capabilities. Twin 10.25-inch screens, one housing the virtual instrument cluster and a second for the infotainment system, are standard on the CLA35. The virtual cluster offers three different display configurations, including one with a large tachometer at the center.
AMG cabin touches
Interior color schemes include black with red accents or black and gray, in manmade leather and microsuede. Dual power seats have integrated headrests, and multi-contour AMG Performance Seats are optional. The standard AMG-style flat-bottomed steering wheel includes a perforated leather wrap and red contrast stitching, and includes touch-sensitive nubs on the left and right spokes to control various functions. An upgraded steering wheel adds a knob beneath the right spoke to select the drive mode and two buttons under the left spoke that can be programmed as shortcuts to other AMG-specific features (similar to BMW’s “M” buttons).
We’re not sure how many owners are going to track their CLA35, but should they want to, the available AMG Track Pace app would seem to be a must-have. Not only can it record acceleration times, g-force figures, and braking distances, among other performance metrics, it also has major racetracks stored within its memory (and new ones can be recorded), for which it can display the racing line on the nav screen or in the available head-up display.
Other tech features on the options list include Mercedes’ Driver Assistance Package (which includes adaptive cruise control, active steering assist with automated lane changing, active lane-keep assist, and active blind-spot assist); a surround-view camera; and inductive wireless charging and NFC pairing.
The Ultimate CLA—For Now
Note that the CLA35 does not directly replace the current CLA45 four-door coupe, which as its higher model number suggests boast an even more powerful engine—a 375-hp turbo four. To date, the CLA35 is the most potent version of the new generation of Mercedes’ compact 4-door coupe. But we expect that, ultimately, the CLA35 will be an intermediate step between the standard CLA-Class and an eventual, even more powerful range-topping AMG version. Like we said, the A- and CLA-Class families are expanding.