Driven: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
Here we have the Mercedes A45 AMG. Mercedes have decided to show everyone else how a hot hatch should be made and have really pushed the performance boundaries in regards to the capabilities of a hatchback sized car.
What is it about?
The A45 AMG is Mercedes’ answer to the, ram packed, hot hatch market and it could be the hottest of all. It is a relatively small sized AMG tuned performance power house. To briefly summarise what we are working with, it has a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, producing 360bhp, and get this; somehow that 2.0-litre, almost as if by magic, makes 450Nm of torque. All of this power works in harmony with the AMG SpeedShift DCT 7 speed dual clutch gearbox, then put to the ground using a 4 wheel drive system. This set up should cater for even the most hardcore speed fans.
Mercedes took a bold move with the A Class range by radically changing the design. Most people don’t even realise that the new and old A Class models are related. This bold step by Mercedes certainly took most people by surprise, and has definitely paid off.
Head to toe the car looks great, and it is in a very different league compared to other hot hatches on the market. The blue A45 AMG that we have here really stands out on the road. The front of the A45 looks typically very Mercedes, the feature point is that huge front grill carrying that beloved well known enlarged badge. There are also some nice optional extra touches on this model including the race car like carbon fibre splitter at the front of the car, carbon fibre side sills, and rear apron, all of which help give the car the ultimate sporty look, but still keeps its premium quality look at the same time.
This is possibly one of the best looking 5 doors cars that has ever been made. Somehow Mercedes have managed to not let the additional doors ruin any of the lines on this car, so it oozes both practicality and beauty.
How does it drive?
It’s hard to sum it up in a short sentence, I think the A45 AMG might just have redefined the performance hatchback arena. In the A45 you get what is now known as the most powerful series production four-cylinder engine in the world. That engine block should come with a warning sticker on it, as it is very quick! It puts out 360bhp, and the car only weighs 1,555kg. This combination means that the car will do 0 – 60mph in 4.3 seconds and will run up to 168mph if you opt for the AMG driver package which removes the 155mph electronic limit. This isn’t your standard hot hatch by any means.
Taking the car out on the first spin in the pouring rain was interesting to say the least, I knew it was going to be quick, but I had no idea what I was in for. Once I had the car on my first clear straight, I knocked the DCT gearbox down into second and planted my foot, needless to say, hell broke loss, the car gripped at all 4 corners and launched like I had never anticipated, hitting the redline and shifting up, I was surprisingly treated to an engineered exhaust pop. Now that is the kind of engineering that sells cars! At full throttle the car sounds amazing, but with the added banging and popping, it will get you curling your toes.
So we know in a straight line the car goes well, you could tell that from the figures really. But how does it work in the corners. This I can summarise, it simply defies science! The levels of grip even in the wet are way higher than you would ever have dreamed of.
I did my testing with understandable caution, but after a while that testing turned into curiosity, even in the wet it was fairly difficult to upset. You could arrive late into a corner, turn in hard and pretty much plant your foot out of the corner, and between the huge amount of mechanical grip and the computers balancing the central differential, the AMG tuned car does the hard work for you, vectors the torque around to the correct wheels then guides you through the corner to the next straight, then gives a nice exhaust pop as a treat for braving some harsh cornering.
It is a very satisfying feeling and the feedback from the car makes you feel that you are in control at all times which feels really rewarding on the road. However, deep down you know this is some very clever AMG trickery keeping you alive. But either way I leave the car feeling smug every time.
As you would expect, you can adjust the setup of the A45 dual clutch gearbox from C (Controlled Efficiency), to M (Manual), to S (Sport). Obviously, I had the car in sport for 99% of the time, you wouldn’t expect any less of me, right? It was impressive to see how much the setup changed the behaviour of the car, and once in Sport mode, it really contributed to a brilliant performance car experience.
What’s like inside?
You know you are sitting in something special in the A45. Just look at the interior. You sit in a contoured sport leather seat with very fancy stitching top to bottom. The driving position is perfect it simply feels right; you sit at an ideal height off the road, towards the centre of the car. The peddles and aptly designed steering wheel are perfectly positioned to get the ultimate connection with the car.
Everything you touch has a quality and premium feel to it and I love the touches of carbon fibre and red throughout the interior. You don’t see many supercars with interiors as nice as this, let alone hatchbacks!
The A45 AMG is without a doubt the best hot hatch that I ever driven. There is a demand for high quality, super-fast hatchbacks, with style, and taste and Mercedes have hit the nail on the head with the A45.
The A45 AMG is impressive to look at, and is undoubtedly brilliant when pushing it to the limits on the road. For me sitting inside this car I couldn’t stop smiling with the excitement of driving it. I felt instantly connected to the road and the driving experience of the car was enjoyable and rewarding. You wouldn’t believe it was possible to build a hot hatch this good!
- Price: £51,590
- Engine: 2.0-Litre Turbo
- Power: 360bhp
- Torque: 450Nm
- Transmission: AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed automatic
- 0-62mph: 4.6 Seconds
- Top speed: 168mph
- Weight: 1555kg
- Economy combined: 40mpg
- CO2: 161g/km
Author: Paul Hadley