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2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA35 Promises High Performance at Entry Level

Competes with: Audi S3, BMW 230i, Lexus IS 350

Looks like: A touched-up version of the standard CLA that will take a keen eye to tell apart from its near-twin

Powertrain: 302-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 295 pounds-feet of torque; seven-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Late 2019

Mercedes-Benz has announced the next member of its AMG high-performance lineup, the 2020 AMG CLA35, which will debut at the 2019 New York International Auto Show to become the sportiest variant of the CLA-Class. The CLA got a full redesign for 2020, which was a bit of a surprise — with the A-Class sedan coming to American shores for 2019, I thought that might be the end of the line for the four-door coupe.

Related: More New York Auto Show Coverage

Instead, Mercedes has doubled down, and the pair now form an entry point to the Mercedes lineup. The CLA35 follows the A35 — also set to debut as a 2020 model — and the two vehicles will share the same powertrain, interior features and technology, as well.

Exterior

Styling is pretty toned down for an AMG model. The CLA35 keeps the same swooping roofline and curvy aesthetic to its styling, especially when seen in profile. There is some additional detailing for the CLA35, especially up front where the lower bumper inlets have chrome detailing and the grille features two bars instead of one. The rear adds a small spoiler lip, diffuser and a pair of exhaust pipes.

Wheels come in 18-inch (standard) or 19-inch (optional) sizes.

Interior

The interior looks to be a standout on the CLA35, with standard 64-color ambient lighting and a few two-tone seat upholstery options that make the cabin feel more sporty. Up front, the dashboard is dominated by a pair of screens positioned right next to each other to form a single continuous display for the driver — one for the instrument gauges, while the other controls the car’s multimedia functions.

Mercedes-Benz’s latest MBUX infotainment system is optional, which allows many of the car’s functions to be controlled via voice commands. The car can then be treated as a digital assistant, cued by the phrase “Hey, Mercedes.” The CLA35 also offers an AMG Track Pace system that allows the driver to track lap times, vehicle telemetry and other data, all within the multimedia screen.

Under the Hood

Power comes from a 302-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 295 pounds-feet of torque. All-wheel drive comes standard, as does a seven-speed automatic transmission, which is the only available gearbox. This is a front-biased AWD system, but torque can be split 50/50 between the front and rear wheels when needed. Mercedes-Benz estimates a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.6 seconds, which is a tenth of a second better than the A35 (suck exhaust fumes, sedan!).

There are five drive modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual, with which drivers can tune the various systems to their liking. Slippery is a new addition, meant for low-grip, icy conditions. Mercedes will offer an adaptive suspension on the CLA35, which comes with three suspension settings for different conditions, as well.

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No pricing information has been released for the 2020 CLA35. Mercedes says the coupe will reach dealerships in late 2019. We’ll have our team of automotive journalists at the 2019 New York auto show where the CLA35 is set to debut, so be sure to check back in with us often for all our coverage straight from the show floor.

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