• Top AMG version of the redesigned CLA 4-door coupe
  • 382 horsepower, 354 lb-ft of torque
  • 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 8-speed DCT
  • 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, 168-mph top speed
  • Arrives in dealerships in late 2019
  • Current models sells for just over $53,000


The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 has been unveiled, reclaiming its position at the apex of the model range, joining the 2020 CLA250 and the AMG-enhanced CLA35. The CLA45 combines the rakish, low-roof 4-door “coupe” design with the most potent powertrain on offer, surpassing not only its siblings but the outgoing CLA45 as well.

Sportier Styling

Separating itself from the lesser CLA models—including the CLA35 AMG—the CLA45 adopts the grille design of the big-boy AMG models. Twelve vertical bars and a central 3-pointed star fill the aperture, which widens toward the bottom. The prominent lower fascia features both a central air intake and large intakes at each edge. Re-contoured fenders accommodate the wider front track, and twin bulges adorn the hood. Lower body sill extensions are edged in gloss black or chrome. At the rear, a lip spoiler sits at the trailing edge of the trunk, and the lower rear bumper incorporates a diffuser with quad exhaust outlets. The AMG-specific wheels are 19 x 8.0 inches, behind which peek gray-painted calipers—or red with the higher-performance brakes included in the AMG Dynamic Plus Package. The optional AMG Aerodynamic package introduces additional aero elements to the front splitter and a larger rear spoiler in gloss black.

New CLA45 engine: A most powerful four

The new M139 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is hand built by a single mechanic at the AMG production facility in Affalterbach, Germany, and each engine bears a plaque with the name of its builder. Output climbs from 375 horsepower previously to 382 ponies, which AMG claims makes it the most powerful 4-cylinder engine available. That is, excepting the for-now Europe-only CLA45 S Model, which gets 416 horsepower from the same engine—no word on whether we’ll get that one.

Peak torque for the CLA45 engine is 354 lb-ft, and it arrives a bit higher in the rev range than is typical for a turbo four—from 4,750 to 5,000 rpm—in order to better mimic the character of a naturally aspirated engine.

Those output figures put the CLA45 comfortably ahead of the now-midlevel CLA35, which gets 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft from its 2.0-liter four. And whereas the CLA35 engine is paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, the CLA45 gets an 8-speed dual-clutch unit. Shift paddles, naturally, are standard, and the gearbox incorporates AMG’s Race Start function as well.

Mercedes estimates that the CLA45 will sprint to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat, which snips 0.1 second off the previous model’s time and out-hustles the CLA35 by 0.6 second. Order the optional AMG Dynamic Plus Package, and Mercedes will raise the top speed limiter to 168 mph from 155.

4MATIC+ with Drift mode

All-wheel drive is standard once again on the CLA45, and the latest AMG Performance 4MATIC+ includes a new trick: Drift mode. To access it, select Race mode, switch off stability control, and put the transmission in Manual mode. With Drift mode engaged, power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, enabling the all-wheel-drive CLA45 to power slide like a rear-drive car. (Both Race mode and the Drift function are included with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus Package.) Under normal circumstances, the system optimizes for traction, apportioning torque between the front and rear axles (with a rearward bias), and to the left or right rear wheels in order to enhance agility.

Class of 2020: The New and Redesigned Cars, Trucks and SUVs

Compared to the stiff-riding outgoing model, the 2020 CLA45 features retuned springs and new dampers, which are claimed to improve ride quality while also providing enhanced cornering. Adaptive damping (AMG Ride Control) is optional and offers driver-selectable modes. Like the CLA35, the CLA45 features additional bracing under the engine and in the frontal area to improve body rigidity over the standard car.

CLA45 new tech

Mercedes’s dual 10.25-inch screens, one housing the virtual instrument cluster and a second for the infotainment system, are standard here. The virtual cluster offers multiple display configurations, including one with a large tachometer at the center. Like all A-class models, the CLA45 has the 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. The AMG Track Pace app is standard here, and can record acceleration times, g-force figures, and braking distances. 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 navigation screen or in the available head-up display.

CLA45 arrival and pricing

The CLA45 arrives in dealerships in late 2019, about the same time as the CLA35 and CLA250. When it does, it will be the most potent version of the A-class family available—at least and until the CLA45 S Model reaches our shores. Pricing has not yet been announced, but for reference, the current 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 starts at just over $53,000.

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