When Mercedes-Benz rolls one of their models into the AMG Skunkworks, you can put money on the resulting vehicle being a bit special.
I’m glad to say that the latest work of AMG madness doesn’t disappoint, as the highly anticipated A45 AMG is a snarling bundle of energy.
The Mercedes A-Class is a good looking car normally, a restrained but stylish premium hatch, but with a little more aggression in the styling, the A45 AMG now looks fantastic. Well-proportioned and with a subtle body-kit, the hot Merc quietly looks as though it means business – and crucially it has the performance to back up the styling.
Getting in to the cabin and you are faced with a slightly fussy dashboard in contradiction to the exterior design. I like the round vents and don’t even mind the sat-nav that sits proud of the centre console. The entertainment and phone controls are fiddly though and make the control panel look as though it has had technology crammed into it rather than a clean, stylish facia.
This is a shame because the gearstick is a nicely flat-topped stick to control the seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The rest of the interior is a lovely place to sit in and the front seats are ergonomic, supportive and comfortable. The rear space is impacted a little because of the bucket nature of the front seats though there is still plenty of room for all but the longest journeys. Largely, the A45 AMG keeps the practicality normally associated with the A-Class, which is not the most spacious hatch on the market but isn’t bad at all.
Climb into that supportive driver’s seat with its spot on driving position and you give very little heed for boot space and the like.
To give an idea of the driving potential offered by the little Mercedes, when I was handed the keys by the press officer, she instantly recommended that I put the A45 AMG into sport mode.
Next to the gear lever is a small button with ‘C’, ‘M’ and ‘S’ on it – prompting the A45 AMG into Comfort, Manual or Sport modes respectively. I didn’t need much encouragement to put the Mercedes into the latter setting as I almost always prefer driving a car with all of its performance potential available.
It feels stiff but well damped, making sure that the excellently set-up suspension keeps you flat through the corners but doesn’t shake you to your bones. It also grips phenomenally, to the extent that you can’t believe you just got round a corner at the speed you did.
Part of the reason for this is the well-rounded nature of the suspension, but the fact that the A45 AMG is four-wheel drive also helps.
Ordinarily the little Merc keeps the power going through the front wheels to keep everything efficient. For example, the A45 AMG will return 40.9mpg and emits 161g/km CO2 – excellent figures for such a sports-orientated car. As soon as any slip in the front tyres is detected though, a clutch in the rear axle kicks in and takes up to fifty per cent of the power. It’s a very smooth system that is undetectable and allows you to just get in and drive.
As previously suggested, you should get in and drive almost everywhere in ‘Sport’. The normal set-up is fine for pottering around town but get out on the open road and the A45 AMG gets into its stride.
The power from the 2.0 litre turbo charged petrol engine is mightily impressive and, considering this is AMG’s first attempt at playing about with a four-pot, a bhp per litre ratio of 180bhp is staggering.
The 360bhp on tap is almost outstripped by the 332 lb ft of torque – all of which makes for an extremely powerful and versatile little engine.
Put your foot hard into the carpet and everything comes together in the A45 AMG. The four wheel-drive kicks in, the twin-scroll turbo spools up, the suspension keeps the car as flat as it can and the Mercedes rockets off towards the horizon. It will do the 0-62mph sprint in just 4.6 seconds – which is the same time as a Porsche 911 – and will try and get around corners in the same flat-out vein.
As a machine for the real world, there are very few vehicles available that can get you from A-B so quickly and, as with all the best hot-hatches, there is the practicality that you can take your family and their luggage along with you.
Car Reviewed: The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy Combined 40.9mpg
Engine 4 cyls, 1991cc, petrol
Gearbox AMG Speedshift DCT 7-speed sports transmission
Power 360hp @ 6000rpm
Torque 450 Nm @ 2250rpm – 5000rpm
Insurance Group 43
Read More Mercedes-Benz News and Reviews at Drive.co.uk/Mercedes-Benz
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