It’s easy to understand why the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 is attractive. It’s a 302 hp machine with all-wheel drive as standard. Plus, the AMG treatment takes the handsome sedan lines and gives them a sinister amount of flair. It has well-done performance car attitude that makes it desirable today, and many of these aspects are exactly what will keep it sought-after in the future.
The 2.0-liter turbo motor is shared across the Mercedes-Benz line, but just like an old-school muscle car, this version is massaged for the most power and placed in one of the lightest vehicles available. The exhaust is also tuned to be something special. It won’t rumble the neighbors out of bed, but it has that unmistakable hint of explosion that feels like a 1960s GT car… and so it’s an instant classic.
While there are some of us who will hold onto a car like this for decades, others are going to want to catch up to it later in life. That’s where a premium car with premium pricing can have some advantage. A classic Mercedes-Benz is always preferable with a good service history, but on a vehicle like the CLS 35, there’s the confident foundation in knowing the first owner didn’t race in-between stoplights while delivering pizzas.
The base price is $44,950 (without destination.) That’s $12,150 more than a base A220 sedan. Most of that extra cash goes towards the motor, upgraded suspension, and a body kit. Keen eyes might also pick up on a few more standard interior features, like the larger dual 10.25-inch screens for instruments and infotainment. Plus, the AMG offers a black interior with red stitching and red seat belts at no additional cost, and that just seems like the right kind of attitude for a sports sedan like this.
The $800 optional 19-inch black alloys are the priciest wheels, but they are worth every penny. The AMG body kit adds more black trim and larger dark air intakes on the front. So adding the black wheels gives this speedy AMG a proper full dark side.
Another worthwhile option is the AMG Drive Unit with mandatory performance steering wheel upgrade ($1,000 total). It adds two color displays right on the steering wheel. These are programmable for a variety of driving dynamics, and quite frankly, they make it more fun and interactive than a video game controller.
The performance options are reasonable, and they go nicely with this nimble all-wheel drive car. However, be mindful about any add-ons, especially with the technology ones. The price can quickly get close to the new AMG CLA 45 that’s on its way soon. Yes, the CLA 35 is a middleman.
Mercedes actually gave us a pretty good blueprint of how we’re going to view this lineup a few decades from now. As the CLA 35 is the hot version of the A-Class sedan, the 190E model of the 1980s had the speedy 16v Cosworth form. In this situation, the CLA 35 is the 2.3-liter 16-V, and the CLA 45 is the 2.5-liter 16-V.
Extra power and rarity are often what drive the classic market. So the 190E 2.5-16v is scarcer (it was never officially sold in the USA), and it commands a significantly higher price. The CLA 45 will likely follow suit because it’s hefty price tag will keep the production low.
Still, that doesn’t take away respect for the CLA 35 as it matures into a true classic. Its staying power will be that it’s sought-after by people who enjoy driving. This Baby Blitzen Benz balances the power and dynamics to be a respected sports car, but it’s not so rare that a journey out in public is a nervous one.
The CLA 35 isn’t the million-dollar future classic, but it has a charisma that will give it enduring significance. It’s the kind of vehicle that you’ll buy in your late 20s. Put it aside as the family’s third car in your 30s. Hide the keys from your teenagers in your 40s. Sell your daily drivers, and the two of you enjoy your retirement in the 60s. And then you finally hand it down to the kids in your 70s (or take its sustained value and buy yourself a nice golf membership.)