New to the driving thing? If you can afford to buy yourself (or your partner, or your daughter) a performance model in the CLA range, does it mean that you should?
New drivers usually start their driving careers in small, inexpensive cars, but if the funds are available, why shouldn’t new drivers have performance cars like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 or 45 S?
Before we answer this question, let’s take a look at the lineup:
Mercedes-AMG CLA35 4MATIC
The more toned-down version in the performance CLA range looks slightly more demure than its more potent sibling, but in my opinion, it’s still a dashing vehicle from any angle. Chad Lückhoff sings its praises in this article, namely How AMG drove me insane, which we recommend you read if you’re considering this model.
The CLA35 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with 225kW and 400Nm of torque and sends the power to all four wheels via an AMG Speedshift DCT 7G gearbox. It will sprint to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.3l/100 km which sounds a bit ambitious, because why are you ever going to drive a performance model conservatively?
On the safety side, things are looking really good, and at R1 133 848, it should. Yet, safety spec such as adaptive cruise control is still an optional extra. The rest of the safety equipment includes 7 airbags with the option of having 9, and Merc’s MBUX AI system that makes everything in the cabin hands-free. Both models have a 5-star safety rating from EuroNCAP.
Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC
This faster, hotter, and pricier CLA 45 S 4MATIC (it retails for R1 426 637) completes the obligatory sprint to 100 km/h in only 4 seconds thanks to its 2.0-litre, turbocharged engine with 310kW and 500Nm. It’s fitted with an AMG Speedshift DCT 8G gearbox for imperceptible gear changes for spirited (or relaxed) driving. Safety features are the same as in the CLA35 4MATIC. It looks the business with its Panamericana grille and power bulges across the bonnet, and you’ll be the envy of all your friends when you roll into town in this bad boy.
Fuel consumption is rated at 8.3 litres per 100 km but in reality, it came to a lot more. We recommend you read Sean’s review of the CLA 45 S 4MATIC namely Four cylinders, 4WD and one massive turbocharger here.
The CLA model features seven airbags and achieved a 5-Star EuroNCAP safety rating in 2019, scoring 96% for adult occupant safety, 91% for child occupant safety, 91% for pedestrian safety and 75% for its safety assist systems. This makes the CLA range in general, one of the safest compact cars on sale today. – Sean Nurse
Apart from an array of electronic driving aids, both models have five AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programmes such as Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. Both models also have AMG DYNAMICS:
This integrated dynamic handling control system extends the stabilising functions of ESP® with agile interventions according to the driver’s wishes. During dynamic cornering, imperceptible braking intervention on the rear inside wheel creates a defined yawing moment about the vertical axis. The effect: the CLA 35 4MATIC steers responsively and very precisely. – Mercedes-AMG
This all sounds fantastic, but the issue is that the Sport+ button switches all the electronic driving aids off, and if you don’t know the correct manoeuvres to correct oversteer and understeer, and you’re also driving too fast, chances are you’ll cause an accident.
We don’t recommend performance models for drivers who haven’t spent many hours learning the ropes on the road or who haven’t taken an advanced driving course. Insurance will also be expensive if the driver is under 25, as young drivers are more likely to take chances because they feel invincible.
It’s worth noting, however, that brand new Mercedes-AMG models usually have an advanced driving course included in the price.
If you simply must have a CLA, we suggest looking into any of the non-performance models that have adequate power figures for drivers of all legal driving ages, but without going over the top. Pricing starts from R834 963 for the Mercedes-Benz CLA200 Progressive model.
The Mercedes-AMG CLA range is brilliant and is probably as safe as it is fast – but performance cars should rather be driven by folks who aren’t freshly graduated from driving school. It’s a different story if you grew up around the race track, of course.
Ané AlbertseAné was bitten by the motoring bug at a very young age. Her mom recalls her sitting in her stroller as a 3-year old, naming every car that came past. She was working as a freelance motoring journalist for publications such as Rapport and City Press, when AutoTrader nabbed her for good. She lives in the Western Cape with her two kids and two cats.View News & Reviews
Keyword: Is the Mercedes-AMG CLA range good for new drivers?