Merc’s entry-level performance sedan is getting some good camera time

A fresh batch of spy photos of the upcoming Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 has come to light. As expected, the new photos show very little of the model’s prototype. The sedan’s entire surface area is covered in wraps, though, so expect plenty of aesthetic changes to happen to the updated model. Mercedes-AMG has yet to pinpoint a specific debut for the for the upcoming CLA model, but all signs seem to indicate a 2019 launch timetable. As for the AMG CLA 45, that should happen a little later in the same year. Either way, the fact that the test mule has already made a few appearances indicates that development of the model is now in full swing.

Update 3/28/2019: It’s only been a week since we last saw it, but we’ve received new spy shots of the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and boy did it change since the last time we saw it. There’s a lot of changes to see, so check out the latest in our “Spy Shots” section below!

Spy Shots

March 28, 2019 – Dropped Camo and Ready for Production

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45
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2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45
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As you can see, everything about the CLA45 has changed over the last week. It’s not surprising considering the timely release of the standard CLA, but we didn’t expect this. To put things simply, the front end of the new CLA45 looks a lot like a smaller Mercedes-AMG GT 4 Door. And, that’s a good thing, don’t you think? Up front, the Panamericana grille is flanked by huge accented air intakes that are actually functional and, thanks to the design of the front fascia, there’s a bit of elegance here. The lower suspension is also more prevalent in the front as the lower lip of the bumper, and its position relative to the ground is a clear giveaway that this thing has dropped by nearly an inch compared to the standard CLA.

Around back, we see even more changes. It’s a little harder to spot what’s going on with the rear fascia thanks to the camo and white body finish, but there’s a lot of AMG GT 4-Door DNA here. You can’t make them out easily but the small, vertical vents in the fascia are there, and the car finally has the official quad exhaust layout. Of course, they don’t have the production finish yet, but this is still, technically, a prototype. Expect to see chrome exhaust outlets when the production model makes its official debut. Finally, the built-in rear diffuser is more aggressive than previously let on by the mule we saw last week, so that’s an added bonus as is the more prominent fin on the rear deck lid. All in all, the CLA45 is set to be a true looker, and you can expect its debut to happen in the very near future.

March 21, 2019 – 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 Testing in Cold Weather and Dropping Camo

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
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2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
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As you can see, Mercedes has slowly started peeling away camo across the parts of the body that run standard across the CLA lineup. However, all of the AMG goodness that we’re hoping to see is still hidden away somewhere behind that camo. As with the last spy shots, we can make out the two-slat corner intakes beyond the decoy screens, and we can tell that there’s going to be a pretty prominent lip below the front fascia. In the rear, we finally get to see the full taillights, and we can pretty much make out the rear fin. Take note, however, that the rear fit is enhanced with some trickery that makes it a little taller under the tape. In production form, that fin will be a little more subdued. The only thing to really note out of the pictures; the only thing that might be worth writing home about, is the appearance of the fenders. They do look a little wider here and, while the fascias and the rear fin are deliberately enlarged to throw us off, that doesn’t appear to be the case here. As you know, the reasoning behind wider fenders would be that Mercedes is making room for wider wheels. Don’t expect anything massively wide, but 0.5-inch wider wheels are well within the realm of reality.

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Exterior

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
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The overall shape of the car is hard to miss, and the front profile, while covered in wraps, doesn’t hide the identity of the sedan

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 is heavily disguised in these new batch of spy photos. There’s camouflage on every inch of the car’s surface, but it is easy to see that this is the AMG CLA 45. The overall shape of the car is hard to miss, and the front profile, while covered in wraps, doesn’t hide the identity of the sedan. Notice the mesh panel over the lower fascia on the passenger side of the sedan? It doesn’t have the wraps covering it because the turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s powering it still needs its shot of air to be able to function properly. Don’t worry, though, because that panel is unlikely to make it to the production model.

The other notable element of the front is the obtuse front grille. Again, that’s probably just a placeholder for the real thing. It looks ugly as it is now and I doubt Mercedes is going to use a similar design on the final production model. The headlights in the test mule look different, too, but there are similarities as well with the current AMG CLA 45, most notably the LEDs that remain on top of the lighting fixture. The configuration looks the same, but the overall shape of the headlamps are different. Maybe it’s Mercedes-AMG’s way of giving the CLA 45 a more menacing appearance. It doesn’t show as much with all the wraps, but I’m guessing the car is going to look different when all the swirly wraps are removed.

The rest of the body should follow a similar script. You’re going to have to look a little closer, but you will notice that some sculpting along the lower section was done to give the new AMG CLA 45 a sleeker look. Even the rear section hints at a subtle spoiler that’s incorporated into the trunk lid. The taillights look different, too, though that’s probably a byproduct of having some of its surface covered in wraps. We do see the quad exhaust outlets, so we know that this model is unmistakably AMG. There’s even a diffuser in there that separates the pipes.

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Interior

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG High Resolution Interior
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There are no shots of the interior, but don’t expect to see wholesale changes from the layout of the current AMG CLA 45

There are no shots of the interior, but don’t expect to see wholesale changes from the layout of the current AMG CLA 45. If anything, the changes should be kept at a minimum, largely because the current layout of the AMG CLA 45 is already one of its highlights. From the x-crossed air events to the bolstered sports seats, and the available color options for customers, there’s a lot to like about the AMG CLA 45’s interior.

The layout should be the same, too. The floating infotainment display should still sit on top of the vents. Expect some enhancements on the software side of things, though. That seems to be a common source of upgrades when updates happen to an existing model. The clean look of the center console should still stand, though it wouldn’t come as a surprise if AMG decided to switch things up a bit with material upgrades.

Speaking of which, AMG models have never lacked in premium materials. The new AMG CLA 45 isn’t going to change that. Even in standard form, we should expect plenty of quality materials in the sedan. Premium leather is a given, as are quality finishes like silver and matte in specific sections of the cabin. The model isn’t going to be shy in optional packages, either. AMG’s Dinamica Interior Package, which throws in Dinamica trim pieces and Dinamica wrapping for the steering wheel, is always a fan favorite. Expect that to still be available in the new CLA 45. A full leather package, a carbon fiber trim package, and a slew of AMG-branded goodies, from floor mats to bucket racing seats, should also be anticipated.

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Drivetrain

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
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The model will make use of an all-new, 2.0-liter, turbo-four that will have 400 horsepower at its disposal

We haven’t heard a great deal about the powertrain setup on the new AMG CLA 45. What we do know is that the model will make use of an all-new, 2.0-liter, turbo-four that will have 400 horsepower at its disposal. Should that be the case, the upcoming model will carry an increase of almost 20 horsepower increase from the current version that makes 381 horses and 350 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission should remain standard. This gearbox will be able to send power through Mercedes-AMG’s 4Matic AWD system, which, in turn, operates with 100 percent of the torque in the front with the ability to split that distribution with the back in certain situations. The performance sedan’s top speed should remain electronically limited to 155 mph, but expect the new AMG CLA 45 to cut its 0-to-60-mph acceleration time from 4.1 seconds in the current model to somewhere around 3.9 to 4.0 seconds in the upcoming version.

The new AMG CLA 45 could also receive more than one version. Nothing has been confirmed on the side of the CLA, but Mercedes Marketing Manager Dominik Gruel confirmed plans to develop a 45 S version for the new A-Class. Considering how closely related the A is to the CLA, it’s possible that the latter is also getting a similar hotter version down the road. If that happens, the CLA 45 S could be in line for its own power boost, possibly coming from either an electric drive motor or an electric turbocharger. At the very least, that’s something worth keeping our eyes on.

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Prices

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
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Obviously, this camouflaged Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 doesn’t have a price tag yet. We do know that the current AMG CLA 45 is priced from $53,100 in the U.S. That price tag obviously goes up as options are added, but those options are largely dependent on the buyer. What’s important is the base price, which is something that we expect will also increase in the new model. We can’t specifically pinpoint how much, but expect the new AMG CLA 45 to be priced conservatively from $55,000, perhaps even a little higher than that.

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Competition

BMW M2 Competition

2019 BMW M2 Competition Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Oh, yes. Every performance Mercedes model has a counterpart from BMW because that’s how the world works. In the case of the AMG CLA 45, it’s the M2 Competition, Bimmer’s smallest and latest mighty M car that also happens to be one of the most dynamic models in its lineup. There’s no going around the fact that the M2 Competition, which was launched just last April, is a ball of fun to drive. It arrived with a fresh design that included plenty of new aerodynamic goodies to help improve its performance and handling, two core attributes of any M car. In other words, the M2 Competition is the fully realized version of the M2.

One of the M2 Competition’s calling cards is its power, and it has it in bushels, all thanks to a 3.0-liter inline-six engine. That powertrain unit produces a staggering 405 horsepower and 409 pound-feet of torque, enough to make mincemeat of its rivals. Do the math and the M2 Competition’s output is a 39-horsepower and 62-pound-feet-of-torque improvement from the M2!

The engine mates to the company’s six-speed manual as standard, but the Competition model can also be ordered with the M-spec, dual-clutch seven-speed automatic for quicker shifts. As it’s usually the case, the latter is quicker from 0 to 62 mph, needing 4.2 seconds to hit the benchmark. When equipped with the manual, the M2 is slower, getting to 62 mph in 4.4 clicks. Either way, the M2 Competition’s power and performance capabilities manifest themselves in the coupe’s ability to spring from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with the standard six-speed manual and 4.2 seconds with the DCT unit. Top speed is rated at the usual 155 mph in standard spec, but the M Driver’s Package lifts the bar to 174 mph. Pricing for the M2 Competition starts at $58,900.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW M2 Competition.

Audi RS3

2018 Audi RS3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi RS3. If there is one performance model that best mirrors what the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 can do, it’s the Audi RS3. We don’t even have to point out the fact that both models are sedans while the M2 Competition is a coupe. The important thing about this model is that everything the AMG CLA 45 has, it can reciprocate in equal measure.

Take its looks, for example. Audi has always designed good-looking cars, and the latest RS3 Sedan is no different. It takes the automaker’s styling cues and wraps them around a stylistic package that resonates sportiness and aggressiveness. That kind of profile is backstopped by the fact that the RS3 also features potent power and performance credentials. It uses a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that Audi initially developed for the current TT-RS and make it its own to the tune of 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, just like in the TT-RS. That much power helps the RS3 sprint from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 3.9 seconds before topping out at 155 mph. There is an option, though, to raise that limit to 174 mph, provided you avail of the options that make it possible.

For everything that it can offer, the Audi RS3’s price tag starts at just $54,900. It’s still slightly more expensive than the AMG CLA 45, but that could change once the new version of the CLA 45 comes out. Either way, you’re still saving some money if you choose to buy the RS3 over the BMW M2 Competition.

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi RS3.


2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
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It’s always exciting times whenever we see Mercedes-AMG testing out a new model. It’s even more exciting knowing that it’s the AMG CLA 45, a model that most of us can actually afford. The four-door performance sedan has always been a crowd favorite, in large part because it brings out the best in AMG. Mercedes’ performance brand is known for developing some hardcore units, and manifesting its expertise on a model that’s within reach of our finances is one of the model’s most important attributes. Obviously, I’m looking forward to seeing the new AMG CLA 45 come to life because if it lives up to the hype, it could really give the BMW M2 Competition a serious run for its money. That would be a race I’d pay to see.

  • Leave it
    • No big price increase, please
    • How improved is it really?
    • Stiff competiiton from all corners

Further reading

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Spyshots Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the current 2014 Mercedes-AMG CLA45.

2014 - 2015 Mercedes CLA-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA.

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Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

Update History

Update 3/21/2019: The Mercedes-AMG CLA45 was caught doing some cold weather testing with a little less camo. Check out the new shots and learn a little more about it in our spy shots section below!

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