New Mercedes-Benz CLA packs some big power


But the biggest news for them is their smallest car -- the new compact four-door called the CLA.

"It's not just a small vehicle; it's really for people who want a really, really, really distinct vehicle," said Christian Bokich with Mercedes-Benz USA. "We call it a four-door coupe, but it's just basically a very modern design."

A small Mercedes isn't news, but the way this small one is configured really is. The CLA wears its engine sideways, driving the front wheels, just like most modern high-volume cars.

But say hello to the wolf in sheep's clothing submodel -- the AMG CLA 45. Another first. You have to look hard to spot the differences, but it has all the AMG hardware.

"If you think about a 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds, it'll do everything people expect of an AMG, and it's a very efficient vehicle," said Bokich.

To the tune of EPA fuel economy ratings of 23 to 31 mpg.

It wasn't all that long ago that any engine that could make 100 horsepower per liter of displacement was considered impressive. Well, the engine in the little AMG is a 2.0 liter and makes 355 horsepower.

While the standard CLA has front-wheel drive, the 45 needs all-wheel drive to get the power down. It is docile enough as an everyday car, though some may have to get used to hearing four cylinder sounds coming out of a Mercedes with the AMG badge.

And while it's the most affordable AMG model by far, it's still close to $50,000 before options. Big performance or not, that's a lot of money for a compact car. On the other hand, it's also an affordable, efficient car wearing the AMG badge.

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