Sport Auto magazine test Mercedes CLA 45 AMG facelift up against the new BMW M2: the turbo with big displacement and the high-tech chassis of the new BMW M2 up against the most powerful 4 cylinder in the world with 381 HP from the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG. A change of power is in the air.
There are many newcomers in the compact hothatch liga. But the new Audi RS3 is not available due to a facelift of the A3 range and the new Ford Focus RS will have a later own premiere. So, the facelifted Mercedes CLA 45 AMG remains the only representant of the 4×4 bastion against the rear wheel drive BMW M2.
With 30 kg heavier than the A45 AMG because of its “coupe costume”, CLA 45 AMG benefit of a comprehensive sport package which include lockable front differential, cup tires, forged wheels and adaptive suspension an updated 2.0 liter turbo engine with 381 HP.
BMW comes with 11 HP less and with more civil Michelin tires which looks more like a rumoured GTS version. With a more discrete look than the CLA 45 AMG, BMW M2 shows its power everywhere with low front apron with large air intakes, muscular flanks and 19 inch aluminium wheels in familiar M double spoke design. Compared with the former 1 Series M, the new M2 looks more mature and the weight is only marginal higher.
BMW M2 borrows the chassis from the M43/M4: the same suspension, the same manual and automatic M-DCT gearbox and the same brakes. Similar to Mercedes, the BMW turbo operates according to twin-scroll principle but the results are completely different.
To obtain the high power of 381 HP and the high torque of 475 Nm, relatively small Mercedes turbo engine operates with a big turbo which delivers a maximum pressure of 1.8 bar. But a big turbo means a high inertia and a big turbo lag which you feel at full throttle.
While the chassis in M2 is the same with M3/M4, the engine is completely different because M2 uses only one turbo compared with two turbos in M3/M4.
With only 1.1 bar pressure, the smaller turbo in M2 has a lower inertia and even you feel also the turbo lag, the inertia is much smaller. And the results is almost the same with 370 HP and 465 Nm (500 Nm with overboost).
The high-pressure Mercedes engine against high-revs BMW engine: BMW engine is more emotional and the maximum revs is higher with 1,000 rpm. But Mercedes is not overrun here because the four wheel drive offers a better transmission of the power to the road than the rear wheel drive in case of BMW. The longitudinal dynamics is almost the same.
If you switch on the Launch Control in CLA 45 AMG, the standard double clutch gearbox engage the next gear much quicker and you do not feel too much the turbo lag, which is a nice thing.
Compared with the predecessor, the interior, the character and road are not so brittle like the prefacelifted model. The new adaptive chassis offers a better response and the possibility to choose between five programs including an Individual mode in which you can combine different settings.
With three driving modes, BMW chassis is not quite as varied but spreads similar distance from one to another and in Sport+ is more directly than the Mercedes.
The BMW test car has a seven speed double clutch gearbox but of course, in case of BMW there is an alternative of a six speed manual gearbox which save 3,900 euros and 25 kg and the relationship between man and machine is more intimate but is is just not quite self evident that we recommend.
With a lockable rear differential electronically controlled like in M4, the M2 feels like a compact M4 and the 61 HP less power than in M3/M4 is not really a handicap. The active M differential and the better weight distribution (52.2/47.8% vs 60.8/39.2%) makes the M2 a far better balanced car than the CLA 45 AMG.
BMW M2 is more accurate, more spirited, much faster in lateral dynamics and super neutral than the vast sporting frosted Mercedes-AMG.
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