2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG: Up Close

Few automakers succeed in mirroring characteristics of their high-end cars in entry-level offerings. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG is the exception and truly appears as a scaled-down version of the almost $100,000 CLS63 AMG four-door coupe it emulates. The 2014 CLA is Mercedes' newest and least- expensive offering.

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Mercedes' performance-oriented AMG models have subtle appearance add-ons inside and out, but pack a big punch on the road. The CLA is no different with brightly colored red stitching and seat belts, sport seats and functional performance vents and spoilers. Under the hood is the most-powerful production four-cylinder in a Mercedes-Benz, cranking out 355 horsepower.

As with other AMG versions, two of the CLA45's defining interior add-ons are highly bolstered front sports seats. Their grip is substantial with the bolsters giving little doubt about the seat's capability to keep drivers in place. There wasn't as much back support for my frame, however, so comfort may have been sacrificed for ultimate grip on the racetrack.

The CLA 45 AMG shown on the show floor of the 2013 New York International Auto Show came fully decked out with optional features including the carbon fiber packages with carbon fiber in expected places like the interior and unexpected places like the side-view mirrors, front splitter and rear diffuser.

Despite being the least-expensive AMG variant at $48,375 including destination, the CLA45 AMG's look is authentic. We can't wait to verify its performance authenticity when it goes on sale in November.

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