On January 11th, our good friends at Shift-S3ctor held a track day at Streets of Willow to open their 2014 season of events. Since Targa Trophy is a regular collaborator with Shift-S3ctor we were on board to join this track day, but had one problem. We had just sold our STi DSC project car in December and were without a car to run at Streets. Thankfully, Targa Trophy sponsor HG Motorsports suggested we take the newly built HGMS Mercedes CLA 250 Track Spec for a test session so we could give our feedback on the set up of the car. As you can imagine, they didn't have to twist our arm to say yes.
The Mercedes CLA is the new entry level sedan from the German automaker and let's just say, it packs a lot of luxury for your buck given the car comes in standard at just under $30k. HG Motorsports is looking at the CLA platform as the new 3 series in the market and has extensively developed essential power parts that take this normally weak 2.0L - 200hp - 4 cylinder turbo and turn it into a sprite entry level sports car. The HGMS CLA Track Spec we tested is their development car and is currently fitted with some of the HGMS CLA power parts they are developing (exhaust + harness bar only currently) and a advanced suspension and braking package that makes this car one-of-a-kind. Here is the list of upgrades to be exact including the incoming power parts to be offered:
HG Motorsports developed parts on SOW test
HG seat brackets
HG roll bar
HG cat back exhaust with Ti tips
HGMS Partner components
KW V3 coilovers
Brembo 6p Front monobloc
APR front splitter and trunk wing
RECARO custom Sportster CS seats
Brabus shift paddles
HG Motorsports developed parts incoming
HG power module
HG engine dampener
Driving this car on the city streets/freeways was comfortable and fun to rip around as the KW suspension set up is supple. Combine this with the Brabus special edition steering wheel paddles to play around with while shifting the cars DCT manual transmission so you get that best possible exhaust note around town. Once we got to the track, it was time to test the real capabilities of the HGMS CLA Track Spec set up.
As you can imagine, the HGMS CLA Track Spec is not a horsepower king since during our test it was essentially a stock power set up, so after a few shakedown laps it was clear technique would be the name of the game in going around the Streets of Willow circuit quickly. Once on track the CLA Track Speck really exhibits advanced characteristics with properly set up KW V3's and camber dialed in the wheels/tires to enhance the suspension set up even further. Combine this with Brembo six piston front big brake calipers, the car was actually ready to run lap times with cars 100hp+ more than the CLA. After the first two sessions we were in tune with the front wheel drive CLA geometry combined with custom suspension set up, making us ready to push the car a bit more.
The cool part of this car, since it (at the time) was essentially running stock power, was the fact you could push the car hard during the whole lap and stay flat on the gas pedal through many sections where high horsepower cars need to lift or brake to maintain grip. This is the type of set up that rewards technique and consistency when the objective is to go fast, an element that will only make drivers better as technique is the ultimate factor when turing fast laps. Another great quality of the HG CLA Track Spec was the fact the car is 1000% reliable. No cooling issues and no set up issues meant we were able to focus on having fun session after session - which for many track spec car set ups - is something that is hard to come by.
Overall the HG Motorsports CLA Track Spec is a really fun car from top to bottom. Great performance set up combined with a unique aesthetic gives this car character most cars on the road don't exhibit. If you are in the market for a CLA, we highly recommend paying a visit to HG Motorsports and learning more about their CLA program so you get the most bang for your buck out of the car. It will be money well spent and turn your CLA into a 4 cylinder terror on street or on track.
For more info on HG Motorsports and their CLA program visit www.hgmotorsports.com
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