2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35
Easy access to the AMG lifeby Jonathan Lopez, on LISTEN 15:48
Mercedes-Benz first offered the compact A-Class back in the late ’90s, launching the latest fourth-generation vehicle in 2018. Per tradition, Merc infused the A-Class lineup with a hearty dose of AMG-branded speed over the years, the latest iteration of which is dubbed the CLA 35. Following hot on the heels of the AMG A 35 sedan, the CLA 35 takes the same approach with regard to the powertrain spec, all while adding the sloping roofline of a four-door coupe. Standout characteristics include small dimensions, quick performance, and refined luxury inside the cabin. With fresh exterior styling bits, track-bred electronic aides, new interior gear, and all the underhood-trimmings of the A 35, the CLA 35 certainly makes a solid proposal, but is it really all that it’s cracked up to be?
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35
Horsepower @ RPM:302 @ 5800
Torque @ RPM:295 @ 4000
0-60 time:4.6 sec.
Top Speed:155 mph
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Exterior Styling
- Four-door coupe styling
- AMG-enhanced bumpers
- LED lighting
- 18-inch wheels standard
- 19-inch wheels optional
- Longer and wider
- Plenty of optional extras
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 starts life as a standard CLA 250 coupe, which means it arrives with the same four-door coupe body style, complete with a sloping roofline, short rear end, and squat, square proportions.
To this, AMG adds its characteristic DTM-inspired styling enhancements. As such, the CLA 35 looks menacing, with flared wheel arches and a low, wide stance, plus dual “power domes” on the hood.
Up front, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 is equipped with a new radiator grille branded with a large three-pointed star badge and twin-louver dividers.
The headlights are slim and pointed, drawing back into the front fenders and illuminating the road ahead with LED lighting elements. Lower in the fascia, the unique AMG-spec bumper comes with a quartet of air blades in the corners, while silver chrome trim adds a dash of premium feel.
Moving over to the sides, the corners come stuffed with large twin-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, but even-larger multi-spoke 19-inch wheels are an available optional. Under the alloys, you’ll find silver brake calipers with AMG lettering. Flared-out side skirts connect the nose and tail sections.
Finally, the rear end completes the picture with an AMG-style bumper and black lower diffuser element. Twin rounded exhaust pipes peek out from the diffuser with a polished chrome glint. Higher up, the two-piece taillights take on a similar shape as the headlight housings, while a subtle trunk spoiler lip adds further performance intentions.
If the standard AMG CLA 35 doesn’t do it for you, extra visual spice can be had with the optional styling upgrades, including the AMG Aerodynamics Package, the AMG Night Package, and carbon fiber mirror caps.
On balance, we think the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 is a good-looking car.
It’s got the right style for a sporty four-door, especially with that sloping roofline, and the AMG additions do well to enhance what’s already there without overpowering the original design. We think it mixes aggression and refinement in well-measured proportions, and that’s no simple task.
Dimensionally speaking, the CLA 35 is quite a bit bigger than the previous CLA 45, adding an inch in overall length and a full 5 inches in overall width. The CLA 35 is also 0.4 inches lower than the previous CLA 45.
|2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA||2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA||Difference|
|Length||4688 mm||4640 mm||48 mm|
|Width||1830 mm||1777 mm||53 mm|
|Width incl. exterior mirrors||1999 mm||2032 mm||-33 mm|
|Height||1439 mm||1441 mm||-2 mm|
|Wheelbase||2729 mm||2699 mm||30 mm|
|Front track||1612 mm||1549 mm||63 mm|
|Rear track||1602 mm||1547 mm||55 mm|
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Interior Design
- Same layout as the standard A-Class
- Polished metal trim
- Piano black surrounds
- Flat-bottom AMG steering wheel
- Multifunction controls Optional
- Optional full leather upholstery
- Twin 10.25-inch digital displays
- AMG Track Pace package adds race-spec data collection
Step inside the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35, and you’ll notice that the cabin layout is identical to that of the standard A-Class model. However, AMG still makes its presence known with a number of performance touches throughout.
The result will most likely divide buyers’ opinions, with some attracted to the glossy, futuristic style, and others turned off by how garish it is.
The CLA 35 is definitely not some stuffy luxury sedan - the aesthetic almost looks like it was inspired by the aftermarket, with a plethora of shiny surrounds, big screens, and polished metal trim added just about everywhere.
Frameless doors create a seamless transition between the interior and exterior, while standard 64-color interior ambient lighting provide some nightclub vibes.
Drivers get to grips with a flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel, which is covered in leather and punctuated by red stitching. Galvanized steering wheel-mounted gearshifts provide manual cog-swap inputs, while additional steering wheel controls are optional.
Sport seats are standard, but greater lateral support can be had with the the optional bucket seating. MB-Tex and microfiber Dinamica upholstery is also optional, and comes with a black finish and red contrast stitching.
Full leather is an available option.
Complementary spicy bits include red seat belts and red trim for the air vents. There’s also a more subdued color option with a black and digital grey combo. The center console gets a piano black finish.
Up top is a panoramic glass roof, while three-zone climate control keeps it comfy. Five USB ports provide power as needed.
Sitting high on the dash is a pair of 10.25-inch touchscreens mounted in a horizontal layout.
These are joined under a single piece of glass, making it appear as though they are a single screen. Merc calls it the Widescreen Cockpit, and we think it gives the cabin a nice wide look.
One of the display is used as a digital instrument cluster, while the other acts as an infotainment readout. The instrument cluster can be configured in three display styles depending on your preference. There’s also an optional heads-up display for even more high-tech goodness.
Running it all is the standard MBUX infotainment system, which replaces the old Comand system with new 3D graphics and enhanced capabilities, including the option for a digital MBUX interior assistant.
Acting much like Siri or Alexa, the MBUX interior assistant combines voice command and gesture control to run the various onboard systems.
Alternatively, there’s also a touchpad in the center tunnel if you prefer a more traditional approach.
However, we’re intrigued by the MBUX assistant, which Merc says comes with numerous smart functions for a more streamlined experience. For example, certain visual element on the touchscreen are enhanced when you move your hand towards the screen, making it easier to operate.
Moving on, the CLA 35 is also offered with the AMG Track Pace package, which is essentially a system for telemetry data collection, which should help to extract every last tenth of performance on the track.
Granted, we doubt you’ll be seeing too many CLA 35’s at your next track day, but the AMG Track Pace package is still a nice-to-have for those who love to play the part of weekend warrior from time to time.
In case you were wondering, the package works by recording over 80 data inputs, analyzing stuff like 0-to-60 mph time, braking performance, cornering g’s, and the like. The system also comes equipped with track maps for famous circuits like Spa Francorchamps and the Nürburgring, enabling you to view your sector times and lap times and improve your driving abilities. You can even record your own circuits if they aren’t already stored in the system.
Additionally, there’s an MBUX Augmented Reality system that will display the perfect racing line onto the multimedia display or heads-up display. We think this is very video game-esque, and liken it to a virtual racing instructor. Like the interior aesthetic itself, this feature is most likely something that some buyers will love, while others will think it’s just some cheap gimmick.
One thing all buyers will appreciate is the CLA 35’s variety of driver assists, which includes adaptive cruise control, steering assist, emergency braking, and lane change assist.
Finally, Merc has yet to provide exact figures on interior room, but it most likely mirrors those of the standard 2020 CLA. For your reference, we’ve listed those numbers below:
|2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA||2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA||Difference|
|Max. headroom, front||1023 mm||1006 mm||17 mm|
|Headroom, rear||908 mm||905 mm||3 mm|
|Legroom, front||1062 mm||1063 mm||-1 mm|
|Legroom, rear||861 mm||860 mm||1 mm|
|Elbow room, front||1457 mm||1422 mm||35 mm|
|Elbow room, rear||1454 mm||1410 mm||44 mm|
|Shoulder room, front||1400 mm||1391 mm||9 mm|
|Shoulder room, rear||1372 mm||1350 mm||22 mm|
|Load compartment width max.||1444 mm||1331 mm||113 mm|
|Load compartment depth max.||1054 mm||1030 mm||24 mm|
|Width of load compartment opening||891 mm||629 mm||262 mm|
|Boot capacity||460 L||470 L||-10 L|
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Drivetrain And Performance
- Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
- 302 horsepower
- 295 pound-feet of torque
- 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds
- 0.5-seconds slower to 60 compared to CLA 45
- Seven-speed DCT
- 4Matic all-wheel drive
- Multiple drive modes
- Race-Start function
- 13.8-inch front disc brakes
Lift the hood on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35, and you’ll find a setup that closely resembles the A 35 sedan. That includes the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (also known as the M260), which once again produces 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The crankcase is made from die-cast aluminum, while a twin-scroll turbo makes the boost and variable valve control balances power with efficiency.
The CLA 35’s 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque represents an 81-horse and 37-pound-feet boost compared to the standard CLA 250, which produces 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
However, the CLA 35 is still 73 horsepower and 55 pound-feet down compared to the old CLA 45.
At the same time, the CLA 35 can sprint to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, which is just half a second slower than the CLA 45. Not too shabby. Top speed is estimated to top out at 155 mph.
Routing the muscle is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, a unit we’re all quite familiar with at this point. Putting the power to the pavement is a 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which offers a torque split that varies between 50-50 front-to-back, or just the front wheels only. Making it possible is a multi-disc clutch with electro-mechanical operation.
Per usual, the CLA 35 offers multiple drive modes for refined driving characteristics, affecting everything from the engine response, to the exhaust note, to the transmission shift settings, to the electronic driver aides, to the suspension. It includes settings for comfort, a sportier experience, and a “Slippery” mode as well.
There’s also a standard Race-Start function for quick and easy launches, which is typically a pretty tricky thing to execute in an all-wheel drive sports car.
Under the flared wheel arches and bright paint, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 comes with rigid underpinnings for sharper handling characteristics. The front end was strengthened for improved turn-in and more aggressive toe and camber settings, and includes an aluminum shear panel that bolts directly underneath the engine, plus there are diagonal braces for the underbody.
As for the suspension duties, there are MacPherson struts up front paired to aluminum wishbones. An AMG-specific front steering knuckle with radially bolted brake caliper helps to alleviate torque steer, which is a setup Mercedes says comes from its experience on the track. In back is a four-link suspension setup.
Making the most of available grip is an AMG Ride Control system with adaptive dampers. These utilize fully automatic operation, adapting each individual corner to the road conditions and driver inputs. The added bonus is that the system strikes a balance between sportiness and comfort, a critical characteristic for a sporty luxury four-door.
Turning the thing is a speed-sensitive, electro-mechanical power steering system with a variable ratio.
Throwing the anchor are 13.8-inch discs in front, which are clamped by four-pot monoblock calipers. The rear gets 13.0-inch discs and single-piston calipers. Each of the four discs are ventilated and perforated for heavy-duty use, although we’ll have to test them before we can sign off on that claim.
|Engine||2.0L Inline-4 turbo|
|Max. output||302 hp at 5800 rpm|
|Peak torque||295 lb-ft at 3000-4000 rpm|
|Drive system||AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive|
|Transmission||AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-Speed Transmission|
|Acceleration 0-60 mph||4.6 s (est)|
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Prices
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 made its big debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. It will arrive in dealers later in 2019.
Official pricing info is not yet available, but with the 2019 CLA 25 4Matic Coupe priced at $35,100 and the AMG CLA 45 Coupe priced at $53,100, we think it’ll slot in at around $45,000. That figure also places it at the same level as its two direct competitors.
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Competition
The natural go-to competition for anything and everything Mercedes is BMW, but in this case, the matchup is a bit mismatched. While the AMG CLA 35 is a four-door coupe, the BMW 240i xDrive Coupe is a more traditional two-door. However, the rest of the spec looks to be on target - behind the kidney grille is a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, which is tuned to produce 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive system, it’s enough muscle to push the Bimmer to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Top speed without the limiter hits the traps at 149 mph. Pricing starts at $47,800. For now, the 240i is the best rival from the Bavarians, but that’ll change when BMW releases the up-and-coming 2 Series Gran Coupe in its M’d form.
Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 2 Series Coupe.
As goes Mercedes and BMW, so goes Audi. If it’s a compact sports sedan with Four Rings on the nose that you’re after, then the S3 is the right choice for you. The styling elements are big and bold, including a massive Singleframe grille up front and available 19-inch wheels in the corners. Providing the motivation is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which lays down 288 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and quattro all-wheel drive put it to good use, making for a Merc-matching 4.6-second 0-to-60 mph time. Pricing starts at $44,500.
Read our full review on the 2018 Audi S3 Sedan.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 has a lot going for it. Not only does it look great, but it comes stuffed with features. That interior is sure to be polarizing, but we like the fact AMG isn’t holding back when it comes to adding the flavor.
And with a 4.6-second 0-to-60 mph time, the CLA 35 is quick too. The track stuff is nice, but we think it’s inevitably useless on a car that’s almost certainly never gonna see the track. Besides, the CLA 45 is still the one to get if performance is on your mind - after all, how can you say no to 345 horsepower?
So where’s the CLA 35 slot in? For us, it seems like a mid-ranger solution, offering the same compact goodness you’d expect, but without the full-blown craziness that is the CLA 45. Still, for our money, we’d regret not going all the way to the 45. But hey, that’s just us.
Read our in-depth review of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA
Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan.
Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45.