2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35

MSRP $47,850

Ranked #17 in Compact Sedan

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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: October 8, 2021

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


In 2013, the CLA-Class first arrived in the U.S. market as a step above the A-Class, which had a front-wheel-drive configuration and a fastback design. With the launch of the second-generation model and the AMG tuned CLA 45 and 35 last year, the car gained improvements on all fronts and set a new benchmark for the segment. Both the AMG and standard models are aimed at buyers looking for their first luxury car experience, and both are priced competitively.

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Pros

Aggressive and handsome styling

Loaded with technology

Athletic handling and dynamics

High-quality cabin

Cons

Limited passenger space at the rear

Can get expensive with some options

Clunky infotainment system

Not as practical as the A-Class

What's New?

As a carryover model, there have been no significant changes


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$47850

bodystyle

dr Sedan

warranty

roadside assistance

No


Pictures & Videos


Trims

Base$47,850 onwards

Colors and Styles

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 in Cosmos Black Metallic color
Cosmos Black Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide


The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 is also the second cheapest AMG on the market, offering plenty of performance and standard all-wheel-drive. Since the second-generation CLA is still a new product, there are no major updates for 2021 except for some new driver assistance features. With its rivalry with the BMW 2 Series, Audi S3 and Alfa Romeo Guilia, CLA remains the most competitive subcompact luxury option.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Features

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 35, launched last year, is the first model in the AMG CLA lineup and features an engine retune, an all-wheel-drive system, and a quick-shifting DCT transmission. The 35 also gets a comprehensive feature list including 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front sport seats with memory function, dual-zone climate control, customizable ambient lighting, a 10.25-inch MBUX infotainment system, and more.

You also get plenty of standard driver assistance features like forward-collision warning and blind-spot monitoring. Mercedes also offers plenty of optional packages to spruce up the CLA including the multimedia package, premium package, driver assistance package, and more.

Trim

AMG CLA 35

MSRP (AWD)

$47,850

Key Features

18-inch AMG wheels

 

Sport-tuned suspension

 

10.25-inch infotainment and gauge cluster

 

Dual-zone automatic climate control

 

Panoramic sunroof

 

Simulated leather upholstery

 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration

Optional Packages

  • Exterior Lighting Package ($900) - Includes active LED headlamps and adaptive high-beam assist
  • AMG Performance Seat Package ($3,270) - Includes AMG performance front seats with heating and multi-contour padding.
  • Premium Package ($800) - Includes power-folding side mirrors, keyless go, hands-free access, an auto-dimming driver-side, and inside rearview mirrors.
  • Multimedia Package ($1,295) - Includes built-in navigation, augmented video for navigation, and speed limit assist.
  • Driver Assistance Package ($1,700) - Includes several driver assistance features like active distance assist, active steering assist, evasive steering assist, active brake assist with emergency braking, speed limit assist, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot assist, lane-change assist, route-based speed adaptation, and more.
  • Parking Assistance Package ($1,090) - Includes a surround-view camera system and active parking assistance.

Which trim should you buy?

Since the CLA 35 AMG is only available in one trim level, you're not spoilt for choice. But it does include a long list of standard features like 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front sport seats, dual-zone climate control, and more. Adding optional packages like the multimedia package, premium package, and driver assistance package can raise prices considerably, but they add a lot of additional features to the CLA.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Engine and Performance

With the high-performance AMG models, the base 2.0L turbocharged Inline-4 engine is retuned to produce 302 hp and 295 lb-ft which is an 80 hp bump over the standard model. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is also carried over from the base models. Mercedes' 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system is also included as standard to put the power down efficiently. The system is also capable of sending all the power to the rear wheels.

The 60 MPH mark comes up in just 4.4 seconds, and the 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 goes on to hit a top speed of 155 MPH. The quarter-mile time is also impressive at 13 seconds. On the move, performance is impressive despite the smaller engine, and the quick dual-clutch gearbox complements the plucky engine with well-spaced ratios. Although the CLA misses out on some mild-hybrid features, it does include start/stop technology that shuts off the engine to improve efficiency.

Models

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

2021 BMW M235i Gran Coupe

2021 Audi S3 Premium

2021 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti AWD

MSRP

$47,850

$45,500

$43,000

$45,200

Engine

2.0-liter Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0-liter Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0-liter Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0-liter Turbocharged Inline-4

Drivetrain

AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD

Transmission

7-speed DCT automatic

8-speed automatic

7-speed DCT automatic

8-speed automatic

Power (hp @ rpm)

302 @ 5,800

301 @ 5,000

288 @ 5,400

280 @ 5,200

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

295 @ 3,000

332 @ 1,750

280 @ 1,900

306 @ 2,000

0-60 MPH (seconds)

4.6

4.6

4.9

5.1

Quarter-Mile (seconds)

13

13.5

13.3

13.6

Top-Speed (MPH)

155

130

155

149

With 2.0L turbocharged engines across the board, you’d expect performance to be similar across all competitors. But, both the Mercedes-AMG CLA Class and BMW M235i run a higher state of tune, resulting in better performance and over 300 hp of power. Both the Audi S3 and Alfa Romeo Guilia are slightly slower in comparison because of the lower power output.

How well does the 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 handle?

Standard CLAs have historically been handled well, and the upgraded AMG models receive sport-tuned suspensions for better handling. The CLA handles corners with ease and remains flat even when pushed hard. Like its handling, the steering is also direct with plenty of feedback. But, all this focus on performance has hampered ride quality to a certain extent, making the ride firm and uncomfortable on rough terrain. The CLA 35 also gets all-wheel-drive as standard for improved grip and performance. Mercedes also offers adaptive suspension as an option to switch between different modes.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Braking Performance

Being an AMG, Mercedes has provided bigger brakes on the CLA 35 to handle the extra performance. Braking performance is impressive and the CLA sheds speed efficiently with good pedal feel and feedback. The curb weight is also on the lower side, further improving the overall braking performance.

Models

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

2021 BMW M235i Gran Coupe

2021 Audi S3 Premium

2021 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti AWD

Brake Rotors: Front (inches)

13.8

N/A

13.4

13

Brake Rotors: Rear (inches)

13

N/A

12.2

12.5

Curb Weight (lbs)

3505

3605

3461

3632

60-0 MPH (feet)

112

117

107

115

Since all four sedans are performance versions of the standard models, the brakes are also upgraded to handle the extra performance. In this respect, the Audi S3 stands out with the best braking performance followed by the Mercedes-AMG GLA Class. Both the BMW M235i and Alfa Romeo Gulia offer average braking performance in comparison.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Fuel Economy

Despite the power bump over the standard 250 models, the CLA 35 AMG is surprisingly efficient, returning an impressive 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. However, the smaller fuel tank size of just 13.5 gallons limits the highway range to just under 400 miles. To improve efficiency, the CLA 35 also gets an automatic start/stop system that shuts off the engine at stoplights and restarts as soon as the brakes are disengaged.

Models

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

2021 BMW M235i Gran Coupe

2021 Audi S3 Premium

2021 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti AWD

MPG (City)

22

23

22

23

MPG (Highway)

29

32

29

31

MPG (Combined)

25

26

25

26

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

13.5

13.2

14.5

15.3

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

297/391/337

304/422/343

319/420/362

352/474/398

One of the biggest advantages of using a smaller 2.0L engine is the excellent fuel economy figures. Among the four, the BMW M235i is the most efficient, followed by the Alfa Romeo Guilia. The latter also offers the highest range thanks to its large fuel tank.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Interior

As a subcompact sedan, the CLA was never necessarily the most practical choice within its class. Despite the smaller footprint, Mercedes has provided plenty of space, and the CLA can seat five comfortably. With the AMG models, the standard front seats are swapped out for supportive power-adjustable sports seats with memory functions to keep you in place through a set of twisties. However, the rear seats will feel cramped for adults because of the sloping roofline and limited legroom.

The dashboard looks similar to the latest models from Mercedes with dual high definition displays taking center stage above the unique climate control center. The dashboard is finished in black with silver accents around the switchgear and vents, and the quality of materials is very impressive for the price. Mercedes has also provided tasteful ambient lighting throughout the cabin that comes alive at night. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 also gets dual-zone climate control, simulated leather upholstery, and smart keyless entry as standard. Like the rear seat space, cargo capacity is also limited at 11.6 cubic feet which can be further expanded by folding the rear seats in a 40/20/40 split configuration.

Models

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

2021 BMW M235i Gran Coupe

2021 Audi S3 Premium

2021 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti AWD

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

38.5/55.1/41.8

38.2/55.5/41.4

36.5/54.8/41.2

38.6/56.1/42.4

Rear Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

35.7/54/33.9

35.6/53.1/34.4

36.1/53/35.1

37.6/53.6/35.1

Trunk Capacity (cubic feet)

11.6

12

10

13

Because of its sloping roofline, the Mercedes-AMG CLA Class continues to be the least practical option in its class, offering just 33.9-inches of legroom at the rear. The Alfa Romeo Guilia offers the most interior and cargo space, followed by the BMW 2 Series and Audi S3. However, the Mercedes-AMG CLA Class still has the upper hand in terms of interior quality and design, making it feel more premium compared to rivals. Some notable interior features include:

  • Power-adjustable sport front seats with 3-position memory function
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Proximity key with remote start
  • 64-color LED ambient lighting
  • 40/20/40 split rear seats with center armrest

What’s there to keep you entertained?

Unlike the standard models, the CLA 35 gets a bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard along with a similar-sized instrument cluster that shows a wealth of information. The usual MBUX interface also makes an appearance with the latest updates and includes all the modern features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, satellite and HD radio, multiple USB-C ports, and more. The system can also be controlled using a touchpad controller for easier access.

Opting for the multimedia package will also include built-in navigation with enhanced video overlay, speed limit alerts, and more. Customers can also opt for a premium Burmester surround sound system and wireless charging. Some notable infotainment features include:

  • 10.25-inch MBUX infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration
  • Touchpad controls
  • Bluetooth and multiple USB-C port connectivity
  • Satellite and HD radio
  • Voice control with natural language understanding

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Exterior

The CLA has always been one of the better-looking models in the lineup, and with the recent generational update, the design is further improved. The aggressive yet classy fastback design makes the CLA look a lot more expensive than it actually is, and it will certainly attract more buyers. From the roof to the flared wheel arches, everything gets a curved design that flows to the rear, ending at the stubby rear end with a subtle spoiler. 

Because of its arc-shaped roof, the rear windshield is smaller than usual, hampering visibility. Both the AMG models add a bit of aggression with a unique front grille and domed hood. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 gets unique 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels that complement the whole look. Mercedes also offers a body kit, black alloy wheels, and gloss black trims as options to spruce up the design.

Models

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

2021 BMW M235i Gran Coupe

2021 Audi S3 Premium

2021 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti AWD

Curb Weight (lbs)

3505

3605

3461

3632

Length (inches)

184.8

178.5

175.8

182.5

Width (inches)

72.2

70.9

70.7

73.7

Height (inches)

55.3

55.9

54.8

57.1

Ground Clearance (inches)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Wheelbase (inches)

107.4

105.1

103.6

111

The Mercedes-AMG CLA continues to be one of the bigger options on the market, overshadowing all of its competitors in terms of dimensions. The Alfa Romeo Guilia comes next, while both the BMW 2 Series and Audi S3 are relatively compact in comparison. Some notable exterior features include:

  • 18-inch AMG twin 5-spoke alloy wheels
  • Dual outlet exhausts
  • Automatic LED headlights
  • Trunk lip spoiler
  • Panoramic glass roof

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Safety

Although the NHTSA and IIHS haven't crash-tested the latest CLA Class yet, Mercedes does offer plenty of safety features as standard including driver assistance features. The CLA Iis now based on the Mercedes-Benz MFA2 platform, which underpins several other models including the new A-Class, B-Class, and crossovers like the GLA-Class and GLB-Class.

The GLA 35 gets driver assistance features like forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assistance, and more as standard. Opting for the driver assistance package also includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, evasive steering assist, and more. A surround-view camera system and automatic parking are also available as options. Some standard safety features include:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Active brake assist
  • MB emergency call assist
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Crosswind assist
  • Advanced tire pressure monitoring system
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Competition

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 vs 2021 BMW M235i

Being compact sedans, both the Mercedes CLA and BMW 2-Series are made for the urban streets with a unique coupe-like design. Being performance versions of the standard models, both also get a similar 2.0L turbocharged engine sending power to all four wheels. But, the BMW continues to be the better handling option of the two. The BMW is also available in different body styles including a convertible. Because of their compact dimensions, both offer limited rear-seat space for adults to sit comfortably.

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 vs 2021 Audi S3

Pitting it against one of the most popular options in the segment, the GLA 35 does have the upper hand in terms of performance and interior space. But, the Audi S3 manages to offer a balanced driving experience, and also gets a more capable all-wheel-drive system as standard. Along with its performance, the S3 also gets better braking hardware than the CLA Class, making it a more accomplished driver’s car. But, the S3 is starting to feel outdated after being in sale for several years, and the CLA-Class feels a lot more modern with better features and a futuristic interior. Overall, the CLA class is the better pick of the two despite the higher price tag.

2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 vs 2021 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of the more oddball choices in this segment for good reason. Unlike its competitors, the Alfa focuses on looks and driving experience above all else. The Gulia is also surprisingly practical, offering more interior and cargo space than its rivals. But, the lower power output makes the Alfa slower in comparison, taking more than 5 seconds to reach 60 MPH. But, the Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti’s lower performance figures do result in higher MPG figures, lowering ownership costs in the long run. Overall, if you want something unique for the price, the Guilia is a better choice. However, the Mercedes-AMG CLA Class is a better all-rounder.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 Final Verdict

After all the recent updates and a thorough redesign, the Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35 has become one of the best subcompact luxury sedans on the market. In addition to its superior appearance, this model also stands out from the competition due to its fastback design. The AMG tuned models are also very capable around corners with upgraded suspension and more than 300 hp on tap from a returned engine. While there are shortcomings like higher prices and limited rear-seat space, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 is still the best option if you're in the market for a compact luxury car that can handle city streets with ease.