Here we go again. Audi have just announced their 297hp S3 Sportback but on the very same day Mercedes-Benz announce their new ace card in the Hot Hatch Top Trumps pack – the 360hp A45 AMG. The power wars are back on again.
What Is It?
The Mercedes-Benz A45 is an AMG but not as we know it. Normally they’re big saloons and estates with stonking great V8s packed under the bonnet but this is a mid-size hatchback with a 2.0-litre engine and just four cylinders.
What it has got is a very effective twin-scroll turbocharger that raises power output to 360bhp – that’s an impressive 181hp per litre. Thanks to an AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive system that power is channelled into the tarmac through all four wheels and the result is an organ-crushing 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds. It makes the fastest current model, the A250, look a bit impotent.
The 7-speed DCT dual-clutch transmission helps with the acceleration but it’s standard fit only. If you’re pining for a manual it’s not an option, so get over it. At least AMG have reprogrammed it for quicker shifts and have added a Race Start launch control system.
What’s Special About It?
Apart from the devastating performance and the title of Fastest Hot Hatch the A45 AMG can even claim to be an environmentally friendly model. Officially it’ll do 40.9mpg and will even pass the strict Euro6 emissions regulations when they come into force. It’s even got start/stop too.
There’s a plethora of new technology with enough computing power to rival NASA. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive constantly monitors traction to make sure you’re accelerating as quickly as possible. A three-stage ESP system can give you room to play with the power, and Curve Dynamic Assist takes it a step further by lightly dabbing individual brakes mid-corner to keep the A45 tucked into the apex.
As you’d expect the A45’s suspension has been retuned to cope with the power and cornering speeds. Whether or not the ride quality is any better than the ‘Engineered By AMG’ version I drove last year remains to be seen.
Of course, on the inside the cabin is just as good as you’d expect from the A-Class. It’s very much like the A250 Sport but with lots of extra buttons to control the various electronic systems that have been added.
How Much Is It?
There’s no official word on prices yet but don’t be surprised if the price is close £40,000. If you’ve got really deep pockets you’ll be able to customise your A45 with a long list of optional parts from the AMG catalogue. Things like an aero package, carbon-fibre bits, spoilers, wheels, exhaust systems and seats are all available to spend your money on.
We’ll know more about the A45 AMG when it appears at the Geneva Motor Show.