2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA35

All the AMG insanity in a smaller and more accessible package…

The CLA35 is the entry to the world of AMG sedans that are known and fabled for their brute, powerful and scary performance and insanity, and the best way to not scare yourself to death in that world is to get yourself accustomed to the more humble CLA and you’ll find yourself going up the ranks easier than otherwise. The Mercedes-AMG CLA35 is often referred to as the ‘marijuana’ of the AMG pack because of its much more accessible and easier dynamics as a car. Now its true that this is the least powerful AMG out there but that doesn’t mean its slow by any means. It sits in the same territory as the Audi S3 and BMW M235i GranCoupe which is some serious competition, and to make things even harder for the CLA, its also the most expensive of the lot, and by some margin.

For 2020, the CLA35 AMG comes with a brand new design. The car is even more aggressive than before and falls in line with the AMG GT63 inspired styling cues that have started to become common in some way or the other in lesser AMG sedans. The CLA still retains its signature grille from before but gets new headlamps, which have a nuance of styling from the AMG GT63 here. It also gets a new set of taillights, chromed out twin exhaust setup, a bodied rear spoiler and a new diffuser. The car also comes with a healthy choice of options ranging from panoramic sunroof to 19inch rims. The car is now bigger in every aspect from the previous gen CLA but sits lower than before. The main concern however for any performance oriented car is the weight, and while the new CLA is bigger, it still is lighter than the BMW which gives it an edge but sits right on with the Audi.

The real talk about the new Mercedes-AMG CLA35 is the engine underneath it. For 2020, it gets a brand new one at that. Its a bi-turbo 2.0L 4 cylinder engine and cranks out a respectable 302 horses and a peak torque of 500.2Nm. This engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox that comes with paddle shifters and pushes power to all 4 wheels since the CLA35 AMG comes with Mercedes 4MATIC technology as standard. This makes the car quick of the line and while that gives it a very slight edge over the Audi S3 in terms of sheer power, they are roughly the same weight which makes it neck to neck, and while the BMW M2 is the heaviest of the trio, its also the most powerful and by some and also comes equipped with BMW xDrive making the competition cut-throat for the CLA35AMG. The gearbox on the car is excellent and responsive, however the car disappoints in the exhaust note department as it just doesn’t stand on the pedestal that AMG cars have built for themselves as far as the sound is concerned.

The CLA35 AMG is a nice car to drive though it doesn’t seem as upmarket as the price it comes at makes it appear to be. The cabin isn’t a very isolated one and there’s always a lot of road noise coming in which is a negative. And to make matters a little tacky, the CLA35 AMG makes fake engine noises from its speakers to give an impression to the driver that the engine really is as violent as bigger AMG cars offer and is as special in that regard, but push the car too hard and you’ll instantly know that there’s a lot more ruckus than the car actually does which makes it slightly immature. The car handles well and the suspension is just stiff enough to keep you engaged and in the feel which does give it a hint of the real AMG DNA but is just right to not make it uncomfortable for the passengers either.

On the inside, the car is a pleasant surprise as it doesn’t disappoint. Mercedes-AMG have made sure that the fit and finish of the interior is top notch and everything feels premium to the touch and its really hard to find anything odd that might remind you that you’re in an entry level AMG car. The car gets MBUX — Mercedes-Benz User Experience software on the infotainment system as standard which is the new suite that Mercedes have come up with which features an in-built virtual assistant making the car quite smart. Multimedia duties are handled by a 10.25inch display which is the home to the MBUX and is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. There’s another 10.25inch display right next to it that acts as the driver clusters and MID which puts it in line with what the bigger AMG sedans offer.

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Seats are comfortable and there’s an option to get sport seats that are bolstered which add even more drama to the cockpit of the car. The CLA35 AMG offers ample space for the driver and front passenger as there’s a lot legroom and good headroom too, however the rear seats are a little clamped, which might make it slightly uncomfortable for taller people on long journeys. The car gets aluminum trim as standard or you can opt for the AMG trim which also uses aluminum albeit is more dramatic in character. There’s also wood finish options available for the dashboard trim and the leather seating comes in a host of options too which makes the CLA35 AMG quite a personalized choice. The car gets average boot storage which is no surprise for cars in the segment and is manageable, but since its bigger than the Audi, its only relief, however the Beamer ousts the 2 again in this department too.

All in all, the Mercedes-AMG CLA35 is a great looking car, has great interiors which are all in line with the AMG lineup of cars, however it falls short in terms of sheer brutality and force which puts it behind its main rivals which is something bigger AMG’s don’t succumb to. While the car is all great in its individual regards, its hard to overlook the fact that its also quite pricey and for lesser money, the Audi S3 is a much sensible option and also the fact that the more powerful and accommodating BMW M235i is also out there, it gets hard to justify the CLA35 AMG’s price and bang for buck. If a great interior and feature loaded experience with great looks is what you’re looking for, this is the car for you, but when it comes to sheer performance and competition, there’s other options out there.