Mercedes-AMG takes the fight to Audi Sport, again, with their CLA 45 taking jabs at the RS3 Saloon.
The powerplant under the hood of the new Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 offers 'the greatest specific output' of any production engine, ever. The upgraded 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit from the outgoing model now delivers 415bhp and 500Nm of torque and propels the car from 0-62mph in just four seconds.
These output figures are 20bhp up on the Audi RS3 Saloon and will see the Merc on to a top speed of 168mph. Upgrades to what is, essentially, half of the twin-turbo V8 used by the AMG GT, include low-friction bearings for the turbo, an improved two-stage fuel injector and larger exhaust valves in the cylinder head.
The most obvious change, however, is that the entire cylinder block has been turned 180-degrees. This has allowed Mercedes-AMG to breathe better as the intake manifold is closer to the front of the car. The turbo and exhaust manifold are now at the back of the engine bay, the latter sporting internal valves that make the CLA 45 louder when driven aggressively.
The twin-scroll turbo is designed to deliver peak torque between 5,000 and 5,200rpm to overcome turbo-lag. This helps give the engine a more naturally aspirated feeling, says Mercedes-AMG, peak revs sit at 7,2000rpm and cogs are swapped vial a new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
As before, power goes to all four wheels, but now there is a pair of clutches on the rear differential that allows power to be sent to whichever wheel can use it best. The obvious benefit is for better traction but, hit the 'Drift Mode' button in the cabin and boom, you're a tyre-shredding drifting king.
With extra power comes extra responsibility... for the chassis, that is. There are extra struts in the underfloor, a brace connecting the front suspension strut towers and a reinforced body shell too. The suspension has received many new components made from aluminium to keep the unsprung mass down.
Mercedes-AMG has put particular emphasis on increasing cornering speeds, so they've widened the front track and made adjustments to the ESP system to adjust the brakes independently for improved turn-in ability.
Design-wise, the CLA 45 has been given a revised front air dam and two 'power dome' bulges on the bonnet to separate it from the hatchback A 45.
There are other AMG specific changes too, such as the new 19-inch wheels sitting under the flared wheel arches, and red AMG 6-piston brake callipers. A pair of exhaust pipes sit on either side of the rear diffuser while a lip spoiler finishes of the look.
The cabin, obviously, also receives attention from AMG, with chunky sports seats, plenty of leather splattered around, and yellow stitching everywhere. Owners can choose between an all-Alcantara, or all-leather, or half Alcantara half leather flat bottomed steering wheel.
The excellent MBUX infotainment system also receives AMG attention, with software upgrades that focus on performance, such as the large rev counter in the middle of the screen, a lap timer, a G-meter and novel gear indicator visual.
It also includes pre-installed tracks from around the world which, if you have access to, will show the correct racing lines in real-time on an augmented navigation screen. Very fancy.
There are no prices on the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 yet, but a good ballpark figure for when it hits showrooms in the northern hemisphere's autumn is just over £50,000.