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It’s said March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It may be late in 2013’s third month but that hasn’t stopped the weather from being cool in New York City. Cranking up the thermostat in the NY Auto Show the folks at Mercedes-Benz just revealed a 355-horsepower compact, the CLA 45 AMG.

This scalding-hot luxury sedan features a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that puts out a V8-rivaling 332 lb-ft of torque. Those figures make it the most powerful production four-banger in the world. It’s matched exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which should provide instantaneous gear changes. The company’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive manages the engine’s prodigious output and sends it to both axles for maximum grip in all conditions.

With ample power and tenacious traction the vehicle should rocket from zero to 60 miles an hour in about 4.5 seconds. Top speed is governed to 155 miles an hour. Despite its muscle-car-like performance the car should deliver some pretty impressive fuel economy, clocking in at roughly 34 miles per gallon on the European test cycle. Start/stop technology bolsters efficiency while 13.8-inch front brake rotors reign in all that power.

In a bantamweight vehicle with this much grunt all-wheel drive is essentially mandatory, but the CLA 45 AMG, like the A-Class on which it’s based, still features a transversely mounted engine meaning it’s front-wheel biased. To offset this handicap Mercedes engineers have allegedly worked some chassis magic with the car, setting it up to send more torque to the rear. Under normal driving situations the car only routes power to the front wheels for maximum efficiency but up to 50 percent can be sent rearward.

In the design department this AMG-tuned beast features some zesty upgrades including carbon-fiber trim and aluminum accents in the cabin. Sporty bucket seats and special AMG instruments along with a unique steering wheel and floor mats help make this very special small car even more impressive.

Look for the exciting new 2014 CLA 45 AMG at Mercedes-Benz dealers in November. Base price for this compact ballistic missile is $48,375 including shipping and handling charges.
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