What is it?
If you fancy the idea of owning one of Mercedes-AMG’s new junior 35-badged performance models but think the A35 hatch and saloon look a bit, well, normal, let me introduce you to the new CLA 35 'Coupé'.
Quite a striking thing, isn’t it? Even in standard guise, the CLA’s swept-back roof and sharp lines mark it out as a bit of a looker. But with the subtle performance paraphernalia added by the crew at Affalterbach, the CLA 35’s additional level of visual assertion makes it all the more alluring. Mercedes is banking on this car’s appearance to be the driving reason why someone might buy one over its more workaday A 35 cousins and, as far as my eyes are concerned, I can see why someone might.
Beyond its rather pretty exterior, however, there isn’t much that differentiates the CLA 35 from the hatch or the saloon - not that that’s in any way a bad thing. Its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot, codenamed M260, is carried over directly and produces the same 302bhp and 295lb ft as in its siblings. A seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox sends power to the front wheels under normal driving conditions, but an electromechanically controlled multi-disc clutch housed at the rear can send as much as 50% of the engine’s grunt rearwards.
Suspension is by way of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, while Mercedes-AMG’s adaptive damping system comes as standard on our Premium Plus-spec test car. Given that the passively damped A35 Saloon we drove recently suffered from a shortage of low-speed compliance, it’ll be interesting to see whether this CLA is any more liveable with.