The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S is a riotous, absurdly powerful four-cylinder sport compact. And now, it’s coming to America.
The 2024 CLA 45 S will make 416 hp, up 34 hp from the outgoing, non-S model. That output makes it the most powerful four-cylinder production engine on sale, and eclipses even the five-cylinder Audi RS3’s 401-hp output. It’s less powerful than the new BMW M2’s 453-hp six-cylinder, but this is a four-door, transverse-engine platform designed for a different audience. Torque peaks at 369 lb-ft between 5000 and 5250 rpm, but power doesn’t peak until 6750 rpm. As we experienced in the last CLA 45, this is an engine that likes to be wrung out.
Besides the power bump, there are a few light upgrades to keep the car fresh. The styling has been slightly massaged, with a new front fascia, AMG grille, reworked headlights, and new wheel options. The MBUX system gets a bigger display and upgraded software. There’s a new steering wheel and new color choices inside, but not much else to notice. This is a minor refresh.
The update also applies to the CLA 250 and AMG CLA 35, which both get new 48-volt mild-hybrid systems to make the auto start-stop experience less jarring. The MBUX screen also grows to 10.25 inches and the Burmester audio system now supports Dolby Atmos surround audio, all welcome, if minor upgrades. The standard LED headlights are reworked, as is the front fascia, but the differences are subtle and hard to notice if the cars aren’t side by side.
Not that we’re complaining. The CLA design largely works, and the AMG model is something we’ve always enjoyed. The 2024 models will arrive in dealerships later in 2023, but pricing has not been announced. The current CLA 45 starts at $56,950, but expect the S model to come in above that mark.