New York Auto Show: Mercedes debuts CLA45 AMG with stunning 355hp 4-cylinder power plant

When it goes on sale in September, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA will signify a bold move for the German automaker.

Not only will it  feature a front-wheel drive configuration — a departure from the more performance oriented rear-wheel and all-wheel drive cars that comprise most of Mercede’s lineup – but also a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four, pumping out 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Oh, and did we mention it would roll out with a sticker price just below $30,000?

While fans of the CLA250 are no doubt counting down the days until September with feverish anticipation, performance oriented buyers may want to wait two months instead, as the Three Pointed Star has just announced at the 2013 New York Auto Show that the 2014 CLA45 AMG will roll out in November.

So what does waiting a couple of months get you beside a heftier price tag of $47,450?

For starters, the go-fast gurus at AMG have boosted the standard CLA’s hp and lb-ft to 355 and 332 respectively. In fact, Mercedes is eager to point out that this will be the first 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for AMG.

As an added nod to the company’s craftsmanship, each engine will be built by hand.

Additionally, the AMG version will be available with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive only and sport such feature highlights as seven-speed dual clutch transmission, a 0-60 time of 4.5 second, and electro-mechanical power steering.

On the tech side, the CLA 45 AMG will come standard with mbrace2, Eco Start/Stop tech, and collision prevention assist. Drivers will also be able to option Mercedes-Benz’s excellent Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system, blind spot monitoring, and lane keeping assist.

The 2014 CLA250 might be a marked departure from Mercedes’ modus operandi, but it would appear with the CLA45 AMG, the company is trying to retain its penchant for performance, while trying to attract younger buyers to the brand.

As Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH said in the automaker’s press release, “In the CLA45 AMG,Mercedes-AMG presents a unique and absolutely desirable automobile with the characteristic AMG genes.”

“The high-tech package with the world’s most powerful four-cylinder production engine and performance-oriented AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive stands for ‘Driving Performance’ at its best,” he added.

Building the “the world’s most powerful four-cylinder” might seem like a lofty task, but when you’re Mercedes-Benz’s go-fast AMG division nothing is impossible – or too crazy.

Needless to say, September and November are looking like exciting months for Mercedes fans.