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Auto Show:  2013 New York Auto Show

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG: New York Auto Show

author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2013

What is it:

The CLA-Class is Mercedes' all-new, entry-level model. Base-level versions are start around $30,000 and come standard with front-wheel drive. The 2014 Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG is the model's high-performance version. Its 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder makes 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It includes standard 4Matic all-wheel drive and uses a lightning-fast dual-clutch automatic. And it boasts styling touches like a bold front fascia, larger wheels and a lowered ride height.

How much:

The CLA45 AMG will start at $47,450.

When can you get it?

Spring 2013

Add it to your shopping list because...

Until now, the least-expensive high-performance Mercedes has been the C63 AMG. That model, which uses a 451-hp V8, starts over $60,000. By comparison, the 2014 Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG is a great value - especially given its standard all-wheel drive and a 0-to-60 time of around 4.7 seconds. While enthusiasts may bemoan the lack of a manual, the CLA45's dual-clutch automatic will likely be quicker than any stick shift available. It should return better fuel economy, too, though Mercedes hasn't announced projected numbers.

Other cars to consider:

Audi S3: an all-new S3 sedan was also released in New York. With just 300 horsepower, it's not quite at the CLA45's level. But with prices expected to start in the low-$40,000 range, it may be a better value - especially since it also has standard all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automatic.

BMW 135i: the coupe-only 135i starts around $41,000 and offers 300 horsepower. That makes puts it just below the CLA45 on the high-performance totem pole. But, it offers rear-wheel drive and an enthusiast-friendly six-speed manual.

Used BMW M3: today's M3 is available in sedan, coupe and convertible variants. It also offers a larger interior than the CLA45 and, at 414hp, more power. Lightly used models are priced in the low-$50,000 range, which is what many CLA45 models will likely cost after options.

Used Mercedes C63 AMG: shoppers who just have to have a V8 rumble can always get a lightly-used C63 AMG. While new prices are into the $60,000 range and beyond, used models are priced much closer to the CLA45. The only drawback is gas mileage: the C63 returns just 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2014 Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG: New York Auto Show - Autotrader