Track Drive Review – 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG at Road America

Hmmm, despite my grand ambitions to film every car I had the chance to drive at the MAMA Spring Rally this year for auto journalists – the exterior videos are pretty dull.

Without the time and motivation to cut the interior and exterior videos together, the exteriors are best with the camera near th exhaust pipe — so there is at least some exhaust noise drama to make things watch-able.

The CLA45 AMG is certainly not short of exhaust noise drama! While it never quite sounds as good as you might think and AMG should, it does have character versus other turbo four-cylinder engines.

Track Drive Review – 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG at Road America


We drove the CLA45 AMG hard – harder than perhaps anything else on Road America’s challenging track layout. It helped to have done a few laps beforehand in various other cars, as this was my first day at the circuit.

The CLA45 AMG launches well, and corners with a nice balance even on full power. The only front-end scrubbing happens at very high speeds indeed, where the car can feel like it has much, much less bite than anything rear-drive, and any thing from BMW.

In this regard, the CLA45 AMG is let down by its front-drive roots. but everywhere else, the solid grip just gives you extra confidence to push even harder.

It likes to be chucked into corners without much grace, and needs the throttle floored before mid-corner to make any power on the way out. It definitely feels quickest in a straight line — which might be an engine-map strategy on AMG’s part. Many high-power front drive cars like the Mazdaspeed3 and even the Focus ST employ a torque limit with any steering lock, and in low gears.

This isn’t confirmed by AMG or Mercedes-Benz, of course, but that is how it felt at the helm.

Grip is plentiful but the brakes were not. They were making a loud and expensive-sounding graunching noise by the final big corners (about 2:50 in the video). This does not inspire confidence in their limited stopping power, but might have just been fading from so much track use all day long. Either way, they felt like the pads were worn-out, which is not good on a brand-new car.

Overall, the impression the CLA45 AMG left on me was of a fast AWD turbo – but not fast enough to overcome the unstick-able front-drive feel of the overall machine. Quick this might be in the sprints, but fun?

The BMW M235i is far, far more playful and felt quicker on the track overall, too.


2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.

He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.

Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)

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