AMG started life building discreet armored limousines for a few select clients, but it has evolved into Mercedes-Benz’ performance sub-brand with its distinctive attributes, such as its own subtle exhaust note, that has taken up a critical real estate inside the Benz product portfolio.
It also has taken over positions throughout the Mercedes-Benz line-up so vehicles of all sorts must submit to the AMG touch or treatment.
Overview: The Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupe seems to be a natural fit for an AMG upgrade and the result is the 2020 AMG CLA 35 4Matic. The result is a sleek, well-appointed passenger vehicle capable of delivering far more performance than is usually found in a midsized luxury car as well as an impressive array of the latest technology for connectivity and safety.
Exterior: The CLA 35 comes with one of the most elegant shapes Mercedes-Benz has brought into its showrooms in recent years. A clean, clear line runs from the tip of the car’s nose through the roofline to the tail, producing a long, low silhouette.
Under Mercedes-Benz nomenclature, the car – even though it has four doors for passengers – is called a coupe to emphasize its sporty lines.
The CLA 35’s sporty nature is emphasized by its handsome nose with air ducts and where the Mercedes star is artfully embedded so there can be no mistaking the rich heritage and regal bloodlines that are wrapped in the expensive-looking exterior sheet metal. Stylish 19-inch wheels and character lines across the doors complete the package.
Interior: The interior of the AMG CLA 35 is clean, sophisticated with a racing-style seat that can hold the driver in place while the vehicle accelerates or pushes out as the lateral forces bite during a tight turn. The steering wheel, which is loaded with controls, also has been sized for racing while the other features such as the heat and cooling controls have been put within easy reach of the driver.
The interior has been trimmed throughout with bright work right down to the metal-trimmed pedals, which are a fundamental part of the AMG personality.
But it also comes with special Mercedes touches, such as the seat controls built into the door and a blend of analog and digital gauges. In addition, the materials used throughout the interior are first rate.
Powertrain: A large part of the AMG mystique is derived from the fact that it builds or tweaks all the engines that go into vehicles carrying the AMG identification. The CL 35 is equipped with a 2.0-liter, inline, turbocharged 4 cylinder capable of producing 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
The AMG engine is matched up with an AMG speed-shift 7-speed automatic transmission and AMG’s 4Matic all-wheel drive to produce a sophisticated powertrain that also includes a stop-start system and produces relatively good fuel economy for a performance-oriented, passenger car – 25 mpg on the combined rating and 23 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway. The powertrain also operates in three different modes: normal, sport and eco.
Safety and Technology: The freestanding digital instrumentation anchors a wraparound cockpit with a central touchscreen and available reconfigurable gauges. The interior options include 64-color LED ambient lighting and heated and ventilated front seats. But there also features such active brake assistance.
The version we drove for a week was equipped with inductive wireless phone charging, plus driver assistance and parking assistance packages that included the Distronic cruise control, active lane keeping assistance, speed limit assistance to slow you down, active emergency stop assist and extend restart in stop-and-go traffic that will allow you to take your hands off the wheel and foot off the pedal even though you have to stay alert and a surround-view camera to help with parking a maneuvering in tight situations.
Drive Impressions: AMG also handles the tuning of the suspension in the cars that carry its designation and the suspension delivered a smooth clean ride in all kinds over all kinds of pavement, keeping the car flat through tight turns and around tight corners.
The lightweight engine delivered all the power you needed whether going from a standing stop – the 0 to 60 is 4.3 seconds – moving out to pass a vehicle or climbing towards triple digits on the open road. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 4Matic really did feel like a performance car.
Wrap Up: The prices of motor vehicles have been climbing during the past decade, and Mercedes isn’t viewed as a bargain brand by any means. However, in an era of $65,000 pickup trucks, $66,340, including the $995 delivery charge, for a car that is looks bold, handsome and impressive sitting at the curb and is also a whole lot of fun to drive, no longer seems outlandish — especially when paying a substantial premium for the prestige of driving an AMG.