Some days this job has it perks, though if I’m honest sitting here at Red Star Raceway in Mpumalanga, listening to the sound of four-cylinder AMGs whizzing around the circuit, today is one of the better ones. We got a chance to see what the CLA, GLA and A45 AMG are all about in an environment that tests their very limits.
AMG with a DifferenceThis range of AMG cars is the start of a new era for the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz. To start with the engine is the first AMG to feature a four-cylinder layout and is simultaneously the most powerful 2-Litre series production engine in the world. It puts out 265 kW combined with 450 Nm and in pure AMG style carries the one-man, one-engine philosophy. That means if an engine builder is sick for a few days then that engine is not touched while he/she is away.
There is a lot to like about these 4-Matic (all-wheel drive) AMGs, the exhausts have been designed to bark angrily, especially on up and downshifts. It’s something we’ve come to love about AMG products and the typical exhaust sound definitely sets it apart. With AMG targeting younger people, the CLA, GLA and A45 AMG have adapted the design strategy a bit, offering ways to uniquely style or individualise your car. The Edition One is just one way of doing that, and adds some serious bite to the visual appeal both inside and out. You can add a rear wing, bumpers, bits of exterior trim, red brake callipers and 20-inch rims. The interior gains some serious race seats and a different level of trim with red stitching everywhere.
Track DrivingAt track pace the AMG feels more alive, it’s able to reach speeds it was born to go and with the dual clutch gearbox in manual mode you can start to wring its neck. You can feel the all-wheel drive system shifting power to the rear when trying to accelerate out of a corner, where a regular front wheel drive car would understeer wide here, the 4Matic system helps it hold a tighter line on exit. Under braking, despite the firm suspension setup, it tends to dive on the front end and the brakes don’t give much back in the way of feel. If you’re off the power mid corner, it can feel like a regular front wheel drive hatchback and you find yourself having to test the throttle to see if the front end is ready to deal with the extra workload.
As far as track cars go, the CLA, GLA and A45 AMG offer up loads of fun until you start to push the car’s limits, don’t expect to blow everyone away though as they aren’t as agile as you’d expect. Out on the road where these cars will spend almost all their existence though, and where they garner oodles of attention from onlookers (especially the Edition 1 models) you’re in for an experience and a half.
Pricing:GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC 'Edition 1' R740 100
A 45 AMG: R 629 900
CLA 45 AMG: R708 600