There are many cars on the market these days, appealing to all the different customers all over the world. Not all of these cars excite us, some are just practical, good value runabouts. Others should come with raunchy parental rating. Many of these cars are adorned with a selection of letters that make the most afflicted of us weak at the knees. Letters like M, RS and AMG. To the car-mad customer, these letters mean there is about to be some car porn going on. So when Mercedes-Benz New Zealand said there is a new CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake heading your way, the entire world melted away, leaving faint memories of all the AMG’s I had heard in the past, racing through my head.
Upon first looking at the CLA Shooting brake, you know this car is going to be fast. Taking a lot of its overall styling from the CLS, it has that fast while standing still design, while not being too garish, or over the top. All of the Mercs today are sporting or seemed to be optioned with the AMG body kit, so they are all starting to look very similar, but there are a few indicators to those in the know, marking it as a true AMG. The main one is the exhausts – one of AMG’s signature flourishes – the look and sound that comes from it will stop any car mad person in their tracks, turning their heads in search of whatever is creating this glorious noise. The only other small signs this is a true AMG are the small badges on the rear side and front grill.
The shooting brake’s body is an odd one when you stand back and look at it. There are bits I found I like and bits I found just not right. The section above the rear side window, up to the roof, seemed to be far too big and just broke the proportion from some angles, but then it was okay in others. Overall I like its look; front, side, but not so much the back. The lines didn’t seem to work and the lights were too big for my liking. But I guess to each their own.
A bit of history before we go on. The shooting-brake originated as an early 19th century British term for a vehicle used to carry shooting parties with their equipment and game. The term brake was initially a chassis used to break in horses — and was subsequently used to describe a motorised vehicle. The term was later applied to custom-built wagons by high-end coachbuilders and subsequently became synonymous with station wagon or estate. In contemporary usage, the term shooting-brake has broadened to include a range of vehicles from five-door station wagons — to three-door models combining features of a wagon and a coupé.
Before we get in, I must remind you that this is not a huge car, it sits in between the A and C class, which to those who may not be aware of the Mercedes range is somewhere in between and Audi A3 and A4 or BMW 2 and 3 Series. I would describe this as a compact sport wagon. However it feels bigger than expected once inside, very roomy and not cramped feeling at all.
Not long after setting off, I started to find the seats very uncomfortable, they were a lot harder than your typical european high performance car, which usually have a fine mix of firm yet comfy. The seats seemed to be ever so slightly too small for my frame. I am no skinny stick, but I fit in most seats quite well, the side bolsters were very hard and just pressed into me instead of holding me into the seat from both sides.
Apart from the seats, overall the interior was very nice. Clean and well put together, but compared to the new C-Class you might find it ages very quickly. I wanted to forgo the normal rant about the screen slapped onto the dash, as I have yet to meet someone who like it, so all I can say is that I hope they change it soon. But this one rattled, which would drive me up the wall, as the car has less than 10,000km on the clock.
One thing I did find surprising was the button to go from comfort to sport than manual mode and back again. This button to me, symbolises the Go Baby Go button from Gone in 60 Seconds. It should say “LOOK AT ME”, “PRESS ME”, and if it laughed it would be an evil laugh “MuaHaHaHaHa”. Basically this button should visibly indicate that if you press it, your’e going from meh mode to pants wetting mode, and the little clear button hidden away at the bottom of the shift column just dulled the entire experience of putting and AMG into its Go Baby Go mode.
The performance specs are the real eye watering aspect of this car. It runs a 2.0L inline 4 cylinder, with the biggest turbo I have ever seen in a stock car. This gives it 265kw, and 450 Nm of torque, which also makes it a rocketship, allowing it to do 0-100km in 4.7seconds. To put this in perspective, my daily is a 2009 Audi RS6, which runs a 5.0L Twin Turbo V10, with 415 kw and 600 Nm of torque, and Audi’s official figures when it was launched for 0-100 are 4.6 seconds. So the CLA is 0.1 of a second slower than a V10 superwagon. No matter what you think about this car, you have to tip your hat to the engineers at AMG, for getting all that from a 2.0L 4-pot. Even though the stated figure is only 0.1s slower, it did not feel as fast as the RS6 did when you floored it. There is a greater feeling of thrust and speed from the RS6, when it should have barely felt like there was any difference at all. These figures did make me wonder about the life span of the engine, that turbo and the small size means it goes under more strain than your average engine all the time. But enough stats, what’s it like to drive?
It’s an AMG – of course it drives well, hard to fault it in terms of handling and weight distribution. Once you take this car out of the comfort zone of housing estates and inner city driving and hit some country roads, it becomes a very different car. And by very different I mean rally car; this car’s character changes so much more than any other I have driven. When in sports mode and on the windy country roads, you could very easily forget you were driving a wagon, as it sounds just like a small hot hatch group B turbo rally car. High revving small engine, big straight pipe and massive sports exhaust that popped crackled and gurgled on every up or down shift. It just left you wanting more and more and more. I imagined that this car would be amazingly good fun on the track, as it sounds so good and goes like the clappers. Later that week I found the downside of this mode, which was the fuel useage. Mercedes official figures are 7.2L per 100km, but I never got it lower than 10.5L per 100km, which I don’t need to tell you is high for a 2.0L.
This car was a true Jekyll and Hyde, and I found Hyde a lot of fun to hang out with, Jekyll not so much. You know those younger guys who modify their car, the ones with the real droney exhausts. Well that what Jekyll sounds like. This is the other side of what you have to live with to get the amazing sounds and experience in sports mode from a 2.0L engine. The daily comfort mode, was very loud and droney, and to me felt like it was a cheap sound for an expensive AMG. When I left for work in the morning, I was very conscious about how loud the car was, my neighbours probably did not appreciate it either. To me this was not what an AMG should sound like. It should have that bonkers demonic side to its personality, the one that sometimes scares you. But it should also have that refined quiet mode, the one that says you’re in a premium luxury vehicle and you’re just popping down to the store for the shopping. I had not expected this car to be like this, and would somewhat expect others to think the same from this prestigious German brand.
What it’s up against.
There is not a lot out there to really compare this to, BMW don’t have any high performance wagons and it’s in between the Audi RS3 and RS4 in size, which makes it look pretty good value considering the extra space and performance specs you get.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||Luggage Capacity||Price High to Low|
|Audi RS4 Avant||4L V8 FSI||331 kw / 430 Nm||10.7L / 100km||490 Litres||$158,500|
|Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG||2.0 L Turbo I4||265 kw / 450 Nm||7.2L / 100km||470 Litres||$109,900|
|Audi RS3 Sportback||2.5 L V5 TFSi||270 kw / 465 Nm||8.1L /100km||280 Litres||$99,900|
The good and the bad.
What do we think ?
For me this car was not at all what I had hoped it would be. The stats stand and speak for themselves – this car is a very impressive bit of kit. However some aspects were very AMG, but others were modified boyracer. This car is has a true split personality, from its sound to how it looks. But would I be able to live with it? People I asked about its looks, seem to either love it or hate it. The low to mid range drone from this car, was its biggest downfall. It may appeal to some, but it did not do it for me. It was almost embarrassing that hear such a loud drone when you’re trying to just potter around town. This gave the CLA an immature and unprofessional sound, much like your typical slap-on big-bore exhaust. The high end was completely the opposite, it sounded amazing, like a full on group B rally spec car, with gurgles and pops from the exhaust too. Mix all this with the running cost and I just don’t think I would be happy with this car on daily basis.
Rating – Chevron rating 3 out of 5
2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake
|Vehicle Type||Front Engine, AWD Compact Sport Wagon|
|Starting Price||$ 109,900 NZD|
|Tested Price||$ N/A|
|Engine||Turbo I4 2.0L, 265 Kw , 450 Nm|
|Transmission||7G-DCT 7 Speed Automatic|
|0 – 100 kph||4.7 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||1555 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4630 x 2032 x 1436 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||470 Litres|
|Fuel Tank||56 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Combined – 7.2 L/100km, 158 g/km CO2|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|