AMG’s new supercar-fighting ‘45’ cars are here, with the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S taking the mantle as the stylish sibling to the A45 S hot hatch.
While it’s not quite as quick as the hatch, the CLA ‘liftback’ will be the option for those who want to mix pace with style, without stepping into the big, big leagues for price – though a figure is yet to be confirmed.
The engine which resides under the hood of the new CLA45 S is the same as in the hatch, AMG’s new M139 2.0-litre four, which produces an incredible 310kW – that’s atmo V8-fighting territory.
The M139 is a completely new engine, rather than just a tweak of its predecessor, with AMG even installing a new production line for its creation.
The 1991cc turbocharged four-pot also boasts a 500Nm torque peak, which tops between 5000rpm and 5250rpm, though AMG says plenty of that is still available off-peak thanks to a relatively flat torque curve.
The M139 also revs out to 7200rpm, with AMG’s engineers saying they wanted to give the new motor a ‘naturally-aspirated’ feel. That would be impressive with an engine running 30.5psi of boost.
In the new ‘45’ cars, the engine is mounted ‘back-to-front’ from its previous configuration, with the exhaust ports at the rear and the intake closer to the front. This has allowed engineers to not only require less plumbing for the aforementioned, but also designers to create a lower, more aerodynamically friendly bonnet.
Geek Speak: AMG's 310kW M139 explained
All the new engine tech, coupled with the 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system and AMG’s 8-speed Speedshift dual-clutch, allows the CLA45 S to reach 100km/h in just 4.0 seconds, a tenth slower than the hatch version of the A45 S.
Underneath the CLA45 S, AMG has “thoroughly revised” every component of the car’s suspension, with new frequency-selective shocks helping allow for higher lateral acceleration.
At the front, McPherson struts with single aluminium wishbones mounted below the wheel’s centre create a suspension geometry AMG says allows for more agile handling, while the 360mm brake callipers are radially mounted for more stability. At the rear, 4-link suspension is mounted via an axle carrier, with three transverse control arms and one trailing arm.
Related: AMG CLA45 Shooting Brake revealed
As well as tweaked suspension, AMG has reinforced the bodyshell with new aspects like an aluminium plate bolted under the engine as a shearing plate for more front-end rigidity, while various struts along the body (between the strut towers, under the body, and pistol-shaped side member connectors) reduce body torsion and roll.
AMG boss Tobias Moers says the new ‘45’s are rebuilt from the ground-up, and though they don’t look massively different from the last generation, even the interior and driving tech will benefit from the latest in Mercedes’ developments.
Six drive modes – Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, and Race – allow the CLA45 S to be whatever the driver needs in different situations, from comfy daily driver to track-thrashing terror. Everything from the powertrain and chassis to the exhaust sound is affected by these modes.
On top of this, AMG Dynamic Select changes with each drive mode, allowing more stability (as in Slippery and Comfort) or more dynamic driving (Race) thanks to adjustable ESP intervention.
In Race mode, another new feature of the 45s becomes available… Drift Mode. Thanks to two multidisc clutches in the rear diff which allow the AMG A45 S and CLA45 S to distribute torque between not only the front and rear axles, but also between each individual rear wheel. Drift Mode is only available with ESP off, and the transmission set to manual.
The sporting nature of the CLA45 S continues into the cabin, with firm, supportive sports seats upholstered in Artico faux leather and Dinamica microfibre, with red stitching and seatbelts to match the colour scheme.
AMG’s Track Pace data logger is also standard on S models, which are likely to be the only versions of A45 and CLA45 available in Australia.
When they arrive and how much they’ll cost is yet to be confirmed by Mercedes-Benz Australia, but we’ve got our expectations set for the end of 2019. Stay tuned.