Mercedes-Benz has taken its AMG portfolio to a new level. No, we're not talking about the upper echelon, ultra-insane Black Series vehicles. Instead, we're looking at the other end of the spectrum, which is where the CLA45 AMG slots into place.  It slots rather neatly, of course, if you ask our own Nelson Ireson as he selected the car as a top performance car to buy in 2014.

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Still, it's not the AMG experience to which some folks might be accustomed. The burbly exhaust is present, there's excellent steering feel, and the body lines are certainly dramatic. There are still some quibbles though, as the first gear is oddly annoying, we're not dealing with a V-8 growl, and power is sent out to all four wheels. Yes, the times are a changin' and there are several top-tier AMG products now running on all-wheel-drive setups.

Another issue some folks might see is in regards to the price. The base price starts out nice and low (relatively speaking) in the high $40,000 range, but quickly shoots up into the mid-to-high $50,000 range once you add in a few options. That doesn't seem crazy considering this Benz wears the AMG badge, but you have to examine what else is in this price point, and how well it performs.

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Are you spending $50,000+ for the badge, or is the CLA45 the real AMG deal?

Yes it is... and no it isn't. Watch the video to see what we mean.


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