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Mercedes-AMG CLA review

2019 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 53.9
” Ballistic performance, excellent handling “

At a glance

Price new £48,530 - £66,610
Used prices £22,502 - £51,700
Road tax cost £600
Insurance group 37 - 44
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Fuel economy 31.4 - 34.9 mpg
Range 359 - 404 miles
Miles per pound 4.6 - 5.1
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types


Pros & cons

  • Fantastic acceleration
  • Excellent traction
  • All-weather usability
  • Uncomfortable ride
  • Doesn't sound very interesting
  • Infotainment tricky to control

Written by Keith Adams Published: 18 August 2022 Updated: 29 February 2024


The Mercedes-AMG CLA is another product from a carmaker absolutely committed to offering in a car for every single market niche. So, the CLA is a hot version of the similarly badged car from Mercedes-Benz, which is a four-door coupe version of the A-Class hatchback. It’s similar to the A-Class saloon (of which there is no AMG version), but not the same. Still with us?

The AMG CLAs use the same engines and running gear as the A35 and A45 hot hatchbacks. Clearly it’s aimed at those who want the class and discretion of a four-door, but in a compact and rapid package. If you do want more room, there’s also an estate version, called the Shooting Brake.

The CLA wears its AMG badges with conviction. It’s pretty much Golf-sized, but has a maximum power that spans 306hp in the CLA35 to 421hp for the CLA45S 4Matic+. Four-wheel drive is standard across the range, and it’s there to give it enough traction and grip to keep up with the fastest hot hatches on the market.

Rivals are few and far between, but the Audi S3 (challenging the CLA35) and RS3 (for the CLA45S) are obvious rivals. But more conventional quick saloons typified by the Volvo S60 T8 with similar power and in a larger package are also worth a look.

Mercedes-AMG CLA review (2022)
Mercedes-AMG CLA review (2022)

What’s it like inside?

The A-Class-based CLA shares the hatchback’s tech-laden interior. For its transformation into an AMG, you get sportier seats with contrasting stitching and highlights liberally splashed around the cabin to give it far more colour and character than the standard CLA. Alcantara trim is also available as well as leather.

All CLAs also get a multi-function sports steering wheel with metal gearchange paddles behind it and a rotary drive mode selector. All models also feature a selection of buttons for the exhaust and transmission modes which are aimed at the driver on the move – an advantage over the more usual selectors mounted on the centre consoles of its rivals. Sadly, they are fiddly to use and take time to get used to.

Centrepiece of the dashboard is its twin 10.25-inch screens. The main screen drives the excellent infotainment that is bright, clear and performs well. There’s a centrally-mounted sensor pad, rather like a laptop’s trackpad for driving the system if you don’t want to use the touchscreen. Then again, both are rendered largely irrelevant by the excellent voice control system that comes with it. Downsides? Only one really – despite some lovely materials, there are areas where the fit, finish and trims are lacking in the deep-seated quality you’d expect at this price.


Like the A-Class hatchback, the AMG CLA gets the latest safety kit, much of which is standard. It scored a maximum five star rating from Euro NCAP when tested in late 2018, performing well in all categories. 

Headline features of the A-Class’s Intelligent Drive systems include active emergency brake assist, active lane change assist, adaptive cruise control with active steering assist, active blindspot assist, autonomous emergency braking, and active speed limit assist.


This is a sporting car. So, the front seats are supremely supportive, especially in the CLA45 fitted with the Plus option pack. The driving position is nicely low-slung, and you’ll have no comfort issues from them on longer journeys. The rear is roomy enough for children and smaller adults once you’ve squeezed through the passenger door.

Remember that this is a small family car and keep your expectations low if you’re trying to cram a larger adult in. If you’re over about 5ft 9in, the low roofline really becomes an issue, limiting headroom. Consider it a 2+2 with additional access to the rear and you won’t be disappointed – but if you want more rear head and legroom, you can always plump for the A-Class hatchback or CLA Shooting Brake.

Mercedes-AMG CLA review (2022)
Mercedes-AMG CLA review (2022)

What’s it like to drive?

This is why you’re here, and the CLA delivers the goods in style. The CLA35 has 306hp and the CLA45S and has 421hp, which in the case of the latter means you get serious performance with a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds. These are astonishing numbers for what looks like a straight-laced family car.

The CLA45S’s engine revs cleanly and forcefully, while its eight-speed automatic transmission happily keeps up and is always there with the right gear at the right time. Despite all of this performance and response, it does settle down to a civilised cruise at motorway speeds, ticking over at a touch over 2,000rpm at the legal limit. You get some engine noise piped into the cabin, but it still doesn’t sound that interesting until you’re really pushing on at high revs.

Handling is responsive and great fun, as long as you don’t expect the last word in feedback. The CLA45S gains a trick 4Matic+ rear differential, which splits the drive up to 100% between the rear wheels. This is in addition to the variable torque split front to rear. What that means for you is more cornering prowess and the ability to use all the power at your disposal more of the time, especially in tighter corners. Great fun, only countered by the bone-hard ride quality on all but the smoothest roads.

Mercedes-AMG CLA review (2022)
Mercedes-AMG CLA review (2022)

What models and trims are available?

There are two models to choose from – the CLA35 4Matic and CLA45S 4Matic+. It comes in either four-door Coupe or five-door Shooting Brake forms, with the latter commanding a slight price premium. It gets more serious if you specify the Plus pack, which is available on the 45S and will cost you around £6,000.

For that money, you get a bodykit with more aggressive bumpers and side skirts, adaptive damping, different alloy wheels, sports seats and an upgraded stereo. You can option it further, and before you know it, you’re looking at a car that’s costing you more than £65,000…

Do we think it’s worth it? Read on for the Parkers verdict…

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