Top 10 sport saloons 2020 – Autocar

7. Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4Matic

Smaller can quite often mean better when you’re comparing one driver’s car to another. Does it mean as much, then, in the case of Mercedes’ smaller, lower-order-AMG, four-door coupe: the CLA 35? Frankly, it depends what you’re comparing it with.

The CLA is, for starters, the smaller of two Mercedes four-door coupes, and does offer much more of the elegance and style of the bigger CLS for a cut-down price than the original CLA managed. Being part of Mercedes’ compact-car model family, however, the CLA is less practical, arguably, than even an A-Class hatchback. Meanwhile, being transverse-engined, it’s only ever four-wheel drive in fairly transient and qualified terms, and can’t compete with natively rear-driven 4WD options for throttle-on handling balance.

The ‘-35’ suffixed AMG version uses a 302bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine which has plenty to recommend it, as does the car’s meaty, tactile steering and its measured-yet-composed ride and handling. The car’s two-pedal, twin-clutch gearbox is less slick, though, and can disappoint with its roughness as well as its unpredictability. 

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8. Audi S3 Saloon

Audi’s four-door S3 didn’t become a part of the wider S3 model family until the third-generation car arrived in 2013, but quickly seemed to make itself at home in the model range thereafter. Nobody does fast, smart business saloons quite like Audi, after all; and this one had all the visual presence and the neat proportions of its bigger siblings, as well as quattro drive and a grown-up power output.

The current version delivers just under 300-horsepower to all four wheels from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, but has a longer wheelbase, a lower roofline and wider axles than other S3s. Our testers have identified it as a better-handling S3 on several occasions.

Trademark Audi design appeal comes together with plenty of material cabin quality here, in a car that feels composed and secure on the road. It’s a little reserved, perhaps, delivering its speed through a luxury filter which kills some – although far from all – of the fun factor.

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