The new entry-level AMG sparkles on the New York Auto Show floor.
Back in 2004, Mercedes-Benz debuted the original CLS, a curvy design that ushered in a new automotive segment - four-door coupes. The formula was so successful that in 2013 a miniaturized CLS arrived, dubbed the CLA, which acted as the brand's entry-level model in the United States while mirroring the elegant design of its big brother. Of course, AMG got involved, producing the CLA45, powered by a 355 horsepower (later upped to 375 hp) turbocharged four-cylinder.
Now in its second generation, the CLA will gain a range-topping CLA45 variant in due time. However, in the meantime Mercedes has decided to add a new AMG model at the 2019 New York Auto Show to plug the gap between the top dog CLA45 and the base CLA250: the CLA35.
The CLA35 will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, the same engine found in its sister car, the A35 sedan. While the next CLA45 looks set to break the 400 hp barrier in order to battle the Audi RS3, the CLA35 settles for a still solid 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Paired with all-wheel-drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the CLA35 dashes to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. This is one tenth quicker than the less aerodynamic A35 sedan, and while it can't match the old CLA45's 4.1 second sprint, its a massive improvement from the base car's 6.3 second time.
The improved performance from the four-pot engine necessitated upgrades elsewhere, such as grippier brakes, with 13.8-inch discs installed up front and 13-inch brakes at the rear. The CLA35 also gains a reinforced body shell, a reconfigured performance suspension, adaptive dampers, variable exhaust, and a recalibrated, speed-sensitive electro-mechanical steering rack.
AMG also tweaked the exterior-standard 18-inch alloys or optional 19-inch rims fill up swollen wheel arches. A revised grille and front bumper distinguish the CLA35 from the CLA250 up front, while a body-colored lip spoiler, dual exhaust tips, and a small diffuser give the CLA35 a sportier look out back. A pair of power domes on the hood hint at the extra power lurking beneath.
AMG didn't leave the interior untouched either, adding in a thicker flat-bottomed steering wheel, galvanized shift paddles, racy red-stitched upholstery, and a variable digital instrument display, while the MBUX infotainment system gains a Track Pace telemetry function. There will be five dynamic modes for drivers to chose from, and even the option to turn off the ESP completely. The CLA35 should hit dealership lots later this year.