Spied: 2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG

What It Is: The AMG version of Mercedes-Benz's upcoming A-class–based compact sedan, the CLA, which is touted as the little brother of the CLS four-door coupe. The AMG version will top the car's lineup with a powerful all-wheel-drive model. Visual differentiation will come in the form of aero flics around the lower front intakes, rectangular dual exhaust outlets, and a large rear spoiler, which is meant to enhance high-speed stability. The car will roll on 19-inch aluminum wheels shod with 235/35 rubber. Inside, the standard CLA's embarrassingly old-fashioned column-mounted shifter will be swapped for one on the center console; it will emulate those on the rear-wheel-drive AMG models. The dashboard will be graced by a woven-carbon-fiber structure.

Why It Matters: AMG chief Ola Källenius aims to make the AMG sub-brand more accessible to new customers with the CLA45 AMG and the A45 AMG, the latter of which won’t come to the U.S. Källenius wants to grow his business—and position AMG as a serious contender—especially at a time when BMW's M GmbH seems to be losing its purist edge.

Platform: The CLA will be based on Mercedes' new "CC" platform, which was ushered in by the B-class and encompasses the A-class hatchback, the CLA, a crossover SUV model, and at least one more body style, likely a CLA station wagon dubbed a "shooting brake" despite its four-door configuration. The platform is designed to share powertrain and electronic components with Benz's rear-wheel-drive sedans and thus offers a remarkable level of high-tech features. Its strengths include ultra-direct steering and top-notch handling characteristics.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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