The CLA 45 AMG is no sheep in wolf’s clothing – it’s very much a wolf in wolf’s clothing, strutting its junior AMG car status with style. Check out the squared-off quad exhausts, the multi-spoke polished alloy wheels, beefy bumpers and huge air intakes puncturing the nose. Open any of the four (frameless) doors and you’re greeted by a restrained but distinctly sporting cabin, with a simply gorgeous suede and leather steering wheel, bespoke instruments and slender sports seats. The latter hint at the need to hold everyone in place snugly.
And one glance at the specifications reveals why. Sure, it’s only a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine under the bonnet, but it puts out a massive 360hp and 332lb.ft of torque too. Thankfully this CLA doesn’t attempt to put all its grunt to the street via the front wheels and all ’45 AMG’ cars come with four-wheel drive as standard. It helps the CLA get to 62mph from a standstill in a scintillating 4.6 seconds, but, somewhat disappointingly from a keener driver’s perspective, the split of drive favors the front axle, and no matter what the conditions, at least 50 per cent of the engine output goes to the front. That means little in the way of skidding around pretending to be Ken Block at your local circuit.
Nonetheless, the CLA 45 is still a hoot on the road, with lightning sharp reflexes, iron-fisted body control and a sports exhaust that is summed up in one word: loud. This is not a car for shrinking violets. Or those that plan to bring grandma for Sunday lunch for that matter. Rear seat space is at a premium – and it’s tricky to get in and out through the small rear doors, while the ride comfort is best described as ‘firm’. But hey, as we said at the start, this is no soft and woolly sheep.