2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 leaked

An image of the range-topping CLA popped up on AMG's configurator.

Mercedes-Benz inadvertently published an image of the second-generation CLA 45 on its German website. The shot gives us an official look at the high-performance, range-topping model well before its scheduled debut.

Buried in the mid-range CLA 35's configurator, the low-resolution photo was uncovered by German magazine Auto Bild. It clearly shows a meaner-looking CLA equipped with a bigger spoiler, a wider diffuser that incorporates four exhaust outlets, and five-spoke alloy wheels. The leak only revealed the 45's rear end; we'll need to wait to see what it looks like up front and inside.

While no specifications were revealed, Mercedes-AMG recently announced its next round of 45-badged pocket rockets will pack about 420 horsepower from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. That's a serious upgrade over the current cars, which all offer 375 horsepower. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission will come standard.

We expect Mercedes-Benz will introduce the second-generation CLA 45 before the end of the year; an unveiling at this fall's Frankfurt auto show seems likely. However, now that the cat is out of the bag, the company may choose to reveal the car sooner rather than later. Regardless, it will likely go on sale as a 2021 model.

The 420-horsepower engine will also find its way to the A45, which will launch as a hatchback but might travel to the United States as a sedan. The GLA 45 will offer the same turbo four, but its still a few years away from breaking cover because we haven't seen the standard version yet.

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