MAINSTREAM MERC DIVES DEEP INTO SPORTING PRESTIGE

Middle-of-the-road, according to the Macquarie dictionary, can mean ‘between extremes’ or ‘moderate’. The latter certainly does not apply to the Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 AMG 4Matic Coupe.

The road travelled by the new four-door coupe may be in the middle of the CLA range but it is far from ordinary. How about a sprint to 100 km/h from a standing start in 4.7 seconds on the way to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h?

The source of such performance is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine putting out 225 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque, mated with a seven-speed dual clutch sports transmission and AMG 4Matic all-wheel drive.

AMG, the sporting arm of Mercedes-Benz, has also come to the cutting-edge party, putting drive system control at the driver’s fingertips via a steering wheel with access to driving programs on one side and a couple of key functions, such as Dynamic Select, chosen by the driver on the other. No major shift of attention here.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 AMG 4Matic is on the market at $85,600, plus on-road costs, slotting in the model range between the Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic ($70,600) and premium Mercedes CLA 45 2.0 AMG 4Matic+ ($111,300).

The test CLA 35 AMG 4Matic came with a vision package, adding LED headlights with adaptive high beams, a panoramic glass sunroof and surround-view monitor, for a very reasonable $990.

There’s a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with similar-time roadside assistance package.

STYLING
While the CLA 35 AMG 4Matic Coupe takes advantage of AMG Line exterior styling, the look in profile, for a performance vehicle is smooth, yet quite soft.

Front on, things toughen up with spaced out LED headlamps flanking a radiator grille and large vents with black inserts emphasising a solid stance. The roof swoops stylishly to a laid-back boot lid spoiler.

Nineteen-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels carry the stamp of AMG distinction, as do cozying-up brake calipers.

INTERIOR
Two-tone Lugano leather with red inserts wrap the upholstery, which includes electrically-adjustable and heated front seats.

The surroundings are designed to energise occupants with a comfort control feature that tailors cabin ambience to match passenger moods.

INFOTAINMENT
As with many Mercedes-Benz models, the company’s 10.25-inch wide MBUX multimedia interface incorporates two customisable digital screens, with ambient lighting featuring 64 colours, gives access to DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto integration with wireless smartphone charging.

The innovative ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice activation system is on hand to deliver myriad occupants wishes, within reason.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The CLA 35 AMG 4Matic comes with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharger punching out 225 kW of peak power and up to 400 Nm of torque. This is pushed through an AMG Speedshift double-clutch automatic transmission and onto an AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

Running on premium unleaded petrol the test vehicle clocked fuel consumption of 12-plus litres per 100 kilometres in city and suburbs and 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway.

SAFETY
Standard across the CLA range are nine airbags, active brake assist with semi-autonomous function, adaptive high-beam assist, blind spot assist with exit warning, active lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and pre-safe accident anticipation.

Added to this are active parking assist, which includes reversing camera with dynamic guidelines and 180-degree wide angle sweep, plus automatic headlights and rain sensing windscreen wipers.

DRIVING
Keyless entry and start open up the CLA 35 AMG 4Matic to a driving experience far outweighing the ‘pretty’ looks of the four-door coupe.

A standard race-start function dials up maximum acceleration from rest, while an AMG exhaust system chimes in with a sonorous note, courtesy of an automatically controlled exhaust flap.

One-hundred kilometres an hour can come up in 4.7 seconds and onto a 250 km/h top speed; enough ‘food’ for a totally satisfying smile factor. The car returns to an assuredly stressless fade-resistant standstill thanks to AMG high performance brakes featuring four-piston calipers up front.

Precision is the word with steering, with strengthening around the front of the bodyshell forms the basis for precise turn-in, especially at speed, while a lightweight aluminium plate underneath the engine increases torsional stiffness. Hence, the driver receives well-defined feedback.

AMG Ride Control adaptive damping is standard, allowing the driver to pick from suspension modes varying from comfort to sporty. This is where one of the steering wheel-mounted buttons comes into play, allowing the fully automatic system to adapt damping, within milliseconds, to driving style and road conditions.

Also accessed via the steering wheel is AMG Dynamic Select, a program designed to tune engine, transmission, sound and suspension to one of five modes, from slippery, to comfort, sport, sport+, or individual, and AMG Dynamics extending to the electronic stability program during rapid steering movements.

Cabin comfort can be compromised in the back with the swoopy roof leaving little headroom, while leg space is also at a premium with the front seats set back for taller occupants.

Boot space is a generous 460 litres. However, the narrow aperture caused some consternation on test when loading or unloading a family drinks cooler. With hands full, the lid was easily opened with a gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper.

SUMMARY
Middle-of-the-road? The Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 AMG 4Matic is the exception that proves the rule. On first glance the four-door coupe may appear short on premium sports chops but slip behind the wheel and all that changes.

AT A GLANCE
Mercedes CLA 200 1.3 $62,600
Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic $70,600
Mercedes CLA 35 2.0 AMG 4Matic $85,600
Mercedes CLA 45 2.0 AMG 4Matic+ $111,300
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol, seven-speed automatic, AWD, four-door coupe)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.991 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 225 kW @ 5800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 400 Nm @ 1200 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 169 g / km

DRIVELINE: AMG Speedshift seven-speed dual clutch automatic, 4Matic AWD

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4695 mm
Wheelbase: 2729 mm
Width: 1834 mm
Height: 1399 mm
Turning Circle: 11.1 metres
Kerb Mass: 1603 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 51 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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