Mercedes-Benz’s high-performance arm AMG says the new hot A-class it is producing is integral to its target of increasing sales by 50 per cent over the next five years.
AMG currently sells about 20,000 global units, but wants to build that figure to 30,000 by the time of its 50th anniversary in 2017.
The new 330bhp, four-wheel-drive flagship A-class, the A45 AMG, is seen as key to this plan. It is the first of an anticipated three compact AMG offerings that will be derived from Merc’s A-class and B-class models.
In total there will be eight or nine new offerings across the AMG range as part of a model strategy called AMG Performance 50.
At the moment the C-class AMG models account for about 20-25 per cent of AMG’s total sales, but the company expects the A45 mega-hatch and other two small cars to eventually be responsible for about 20 per cent.
The A45 AMG will go head-to-head with Audi’s RS3 and BMW’s M135i.
AMG officials claim that in dry-weather testing around the Nürburgring Nordschleife the A45 outperformed the RS3 and was equal to the M135i. When it rained, however, the new Merc’s four-wheel drive system made it superior to both.
Exact performance figures have not been issued for the A45 AMG, but expect between 325-330bhp and maximum torque above 295lb ft. Although peak torque will arrive at roughly 4300rpm, about 90 per cent will be available from 1500rpm.
The A45 AMG will get a new design of Recaro bucket front seat that will eventually be rolled across the AMG product line. A redesigned double-blade front grille will also feature, and set the styling tone for future cars.