As a turbocharged Honda Civic Type-R prepares to rocket America’s way, a 345-horsepower all-wheel drive Ford Focus RS begins to spool up for our shores in anticipation. Meanwhile, over in Germany, a modern day Volkswagen Rabbit sits on its 400-horsepower haunches, ready to spring into action. To say that we may be on the cusp of the ultimate four-cylinder showdown would be a grave understatement indeed, as more and more manufacturers release high horsepower cars that sport tiny turbocharged engines.
Mercedes-Benz has been well ahead of the curve in certain regards, releasing a duo of 355-horsepower demons into the fold well before the previously listed automakers received approval to hit our market with their high-performance hatchbacks. This is all happening for a reason, as more Americans are buying performance cars than ever before. So as the “ain’t no replacement for displacement” mantras swiftly fade from naysayer’s tongues, a new breed of power gains youthful vitality, and from the looks of things these little upstarts are just getting warmed-up.
In an ongoing battle to best one another, Mercedes-Benz has announced that the 2016 AMG versions of both the CLA and the GLA will have even more power and performance. Acting as if 355 ponies were not enough, the German automaker says that upcoming models are slated for seeing a 20-horsepower gain over the current chassis and that it will tack-on 18 extra helpings of torque just because it can.
Car and Driver may have said it best by claiming this decision could “make the dive-plane-equipped GLA even more fantastically ludicrous than it already is,” which is strikingly accurate on a multitude of levels. Once it lands, the new CLA will be as quick as a V8–powered SL63 when gunning for 60 miles-per-hour, and that alone is a huge argument for the widespread use of compact, turbocharged powerplants. But power isn’t going to be the only update this gruesome twosome will be seeing for the 2016 year, as Mercedes has promised to make the AMG edition a cut above the rest.
But before we get to all of the fresh add-ons, let’s look at a few of the features that are slated for removal on these two vehicles. The AMG “Driver’s Package” will no longer be available on either model, and the AMG “Performance Studio Package” will now be a CLA-exclusive option. But those two changes are the only big deduction on these boosted Benzes, and if the new models retain those beastly brakes and youthful vibe, then these cars are going to kick a lot of ass on and off the track.
New add-ons are going to be primarily performance in nature, with the AMG “Dynamic Plus Package” leading the way with a limited-slip front differential, fully adaptive suspension, a performance steering wheel, and a top speed that has been governed to 167 miles per hour. There also will be a “race mode,” where everything firms up on the car and the engine becomes even more reactive; and since the five top-end gears have been reworked to be more responsive, this mode should be a lot of fun to experience when behind the wheel. There will be some small touches here and there as well, as a dual-zone climate control system and a keyless start ignition finally become standard equipment.
While Mercedes-Benz remains hushed on how much these two will cost when they launch, don’t be too surprised if both AMG editions are a good bit over $50,000 a piece when the company announces pricing this October. While some may wince over this price-point it is important to note that getting 375-horsepower in an unmolested four-cylinder car is not always an easy task, and that 50 grand for a brand-new AMG-edition Benz is not that bad if you think about it.
So the only question now is, will this bump in boost sell more cars for the German giant? There was no mention of a redesigned interior on either of these cars, which both critics and members of the Cheat Sheet agree is a hair cramped for taller individuals. Even though performance cars are undoubtedly on the rise, the people who are looking to buy a performance Mercedes are not always looking for a smaller offering. There also is the issue with its price tag, because even though both of these cars will have more power than the Civic Type-R and the Focus RS, a considerably lower price-point will oftentimes overpower any desire one might have for additional oomph.