2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA-Class Review, Pricing, and Specs

Overview

Although they live at the small end of the Mercedes-AMG lineup, the 2021 CLA-class models come by their performance-car street cred honestly. Offered in two flavors—medium spicy CLA35 and extra-caliente CLA45—they pair an expertly-tuned chassis with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes either 302- or 382-horsepower. Whether you want to call it a coupe (Mercedes does) or a sedan (as we do), the CLA’s dramatically sloped roofline adds a visual reminder of the car’s performance capabilities. Likewise, the cabin blends traditional Mercedes luxury amenities with a sporty design theme, heavily-bolstered sport seats, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

What’s New for 2021?

Blind-spot monitoring is newly standard for 2021, otherwise the CLA-class models carry over unchanged from last year.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

    The CLA45 is the most intense member of the CLA family, but its high base price pushes it into competition with larger, better sports sedans, so we’d stick with the CLA35 and try to have a light hand with the extra-cost options. Heated and ventilated front seats are a bargain at $950 and the $800 Premium package adds keyless passive entry and ignition as well as power-folding exterior mirrors with an auto-dimming function.

    Engine, Transmission, and Performance

    While both models boast the company’s latest turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the CLA35 makes 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and the CLA45 develops 382 ponies and 354 lb-ft. The CLA35 drives through a seven-speed automatic transmission while the CLA45 has an eight-speed automatic. They both have standard 4Matic+ all-wheel drive, which can send all of the power to the rear wheels. The 45 can even be equipped with a tail-sliding Drift drive mode. A set of optional adaptive dampers provide adjustable ride quality. At our test track, the 302-hp CLA35 managed a quick 4.4-second zero-to-60-mph time but the 382-hp CLA45 did the deed in 3.7 seconds.

    Michael SimariCar and Driver

    Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

    The CLA35 and CLA45 both come standard with all-wheel drive. Mercedes hasn’t released fuel economy estimates for the 45 yet, but the 35 is rated at 23 mph city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. That represents a 4 mpg penalty on the highway compared to the less-powerful Mercedes-Benz CLA250 with all-wheel drive. The CLA35’s fuel economy, however, is similar to those of competitors such as the Audi S3 and BMW M235i Gran Coupe.

    Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

    The 2021 CLA45 stands out on the street from the 2021 CLA35 with a flashier grille, wider front fenders, extra aerodynamic bits, and more. However, the two have similar aesthetics on the inside. Both can be outfitted with black faux-suede accents as well as red seatbelts and contrast-stitching. They also have customizable ambient interior lighting that includes illuminated circular air vents in the instrument panel. The front seats are pleasantly spacious, but there’s limited headroom in the second row due to the car’s sloping roofline. This sedan provides 11.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s less than in the outgoing model, but it’s still enough to house a couple of overnight bags or an average grocery haul.

    Michael SimariCar and Driver

    Infotainment and Connectivity

    The CLA35 and CLA45 are equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX infotainment system, which features tiny touchpads on the steering wheel and a console-mounted control pad. Overall, the setup is easy to use and configure. The digital instrument-cluster screen and the standard 7.0-inch infotainment display live under one large horizontal piece of glass that stretches across much of the dashboard. Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system are standard, and all models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The options list includes an upgraded Burmester audio system and SiriusXM satellite radio. Upgraded versions of the infotainment system include Mercedes’ Siri-like personal assistant and augmented reality displays to enhance the navigation system.

    Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

    The 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA35 and CLA45 haven’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, these cars are available with driver-assistance features that can help keep you out of harm’s way during your travels. Key safety features include:

    • Standard automated emergency braking
    • Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
    • Available adaptive cruise control

      Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

      Mercedes’ warranty coverage doesn’t include complimentary maintenance, which puts it behind some of its luxury competitors. Otherwise, Mercedes’ warranty coverage is largely in line with the coverage offered by comparable brands.

      • Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
      • Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
      • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

        Specifications

        Specifications

        2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA35

        VEHICLE TYPE

        front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

        PRICE AS TESTED

        $66,340 (base price: $47,895)

        ENGINE TYPE

        turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
        Displacement

        122 in3, 1991 cm3
        Power

        302 hp @ 5800 rpm
        Torque

        295 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

        TRANSMISSION

        7-speed dual-clutch automatic

        DIMENSIONS

        Wheelbase: 107.4 in

        Length: 184.8 in

        Width: 72.2 in

        Height: 55.3 in

        Passenger volume: 89 ft3

        Trunk volume: 12 ft3

        Curb weight (C/D est): 3626 lb

        PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)

        60 mph: 4.6 sec

        100 mph: 10.1 sec

        ¼-mile: 13.0 sec

        Top speed: 155 mph

        EPA FUEL ECONOMY

        Combined/city/highway: 25/23/29 mpg

        More Features and Specs

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