New 355bhp Mercedes A45 AMG is the world’s most powerful production hot hatch, offering 0-62mph in 4.6sec and priced from about £36k
5 March 2013

This is the new Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, the firm’s first hot hatch and, with 355bhp, the most powerful production hot hatch ever built. It will enable AMG and Mercedes to enter a new market as both firms attempt to attract younger buyers.  

The A45 AMG will provide Mercedes with a rival for the likes of the BMW M135i and the next-gen Audi RS3, a sector in which the firm has never traditionally competed. It makes its debut at the Geneva motor show.

Based on the new A-class, the A45 marks the first time that AMG has produced anything smaller than the C-class, previously always its entry-level model and the vehicle that AMG boss Ola Kallenius describes as the firm’s “bread and butter car”. 

The A45 will be significantly cheaper than the £58,000 C63. It will be priced at around £36,000, pitching it slightly above the M135i but below the next Audi RS3.

The A45 uses a four-cylinder engine, a first for an AMG-built car. It is a 1991cc turbocharged petrol with the highest specific output of any 2.0-litre engine yet fitted to a production car, developing 355bhp at 6000rpm and 332lb ft from 2750rpm to 5000rpm. Achieving the highest specific output was one of the goals of the A45 AMG project. 

The A45 AMG is very much a bespoke car, unlike previous AMG-badged A-classes, which were essentially just trim and suspension upgrades. The all-aluminium engine, which uses a unique sand-cast block and a large twin-scroll turbo, is a new unit developed by AMG that will also be used in the forthcoming CLA 45. Each engine is handbuilt at AMG’s Affalterbach plant by a single technician, in keeping with AMG’s “one man, one engine” philosophy. 

The high specific output is made possible by high cylinder pressures and advanced spray direct injection, which also helps to make the engine more efficient. Mercedes claims 34mpg and 161g/km of CO2, helped by the standard stop-start and alternator disconnect. It will reach 62mph in 4.6sec while top speed is limited to 155mph. 

AMG decided early in the car’s development that the A45 had to be four-wheel drive. The car uses an AMG-tweaked 4Matic drivetrain, with Mercedes’ new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, reworked to handle the power and torque outputs and capable of splitting drive equally between the axles. This is the first time the gearbox has been combined with four-wheel drive. 

The transmission has three modes — Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Manual — and the ESP stability system can be turned off altogether or switched to Sport. 

A new braking system has been fitted, with drilled 350mm by 32mm discs at the front and 330mm by 22mm at the back. The steering has also been retuned, while the suspension components have been heavily upgraded with lower, tauter springs and dampers and firmer bushings. The engine’s cooling system uses technology developed for the SLS supercar. 

The car’s exterior receives plenty of AMG upgrades. A deep front splitter and an AMG-specific radiator grille come finished in matt grey, while the air intakes and sill skirts are finished in gloss black, as are the door mirrors. 

The A45 rides on grey 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with 235/40 tyres. 

Inside, the standard Mercedes front seats have been replaced by a set of thin-shell AMG seats, which will be standard kit on UK cars, and the instrument cluster has been swapped for AMG’s own design. The A-class’s ‘eyeball’ air vents have red bezels and the seatbelts are also red. 

Optional upgrades include a carbonfibre package, which replaces the front splitter, sill inserts and rear bumper trim with carbonfibre items. Red brake calipers and 19-inch wheels are also optional. 

Performance upgrades include a new exhaust system, lower and stiffer springs and dampers, and various aerodynamic extras, including a rear wing and a larger front splitter that, the firm claims, improve downforce. 

According to Kallenius, the A45 AMG is aimed at buyers in their 30s and 40s who are after a car that combines “performance and technology” and are “successful early in their careers”. He also said that it could appeal to AMG’s more traditional, older customers who were looking for a small, fun car. During its development the A45 was shown to S63 owners, at the opposite end of the AMG ownership scale to potential A45 buyers, to gauge their opinion. Their reaction, Kallenius said, was favourable. 

The A45 AMG received its first public outing at the Geneva motor show and it will go on sale in the UK in July. 

Dan Stevens

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Can the latest Mercedes A-Class's slick conformity outweigh the old model's originality?

Join the debate

Comments
38

13 February 2013

Hard to imagine someone keeping this car past its warranty.

13 February 2013

I mean the last Auris, not the new one. Can't quite figure out why, but as soon as I saw the rear shot I thought 'Auris'

Aside from that, I can't see why anyone would buy this over a BMW M135i

 

13 February 2013

Surely the Ferrari FF is the world's most powerful production hatchback?

 

13 February 2013

I'm not sure the FF can reasonably be described as a "hot hatch" - that'd be like describing a Rolls Royce Phantom as a "family saloon".

 

As for the BMW M135, the appeal of the A45 is that Angel it's four wheel drive, which some will prefer, (b) it's quite a bit less ugly, (c) it'll likely be faster and (d) it's not a BMW. All of these matter to some people and not to others.

13 February 2013

Sporky McGuffin wrote:

I'm not sure the FF can reasonably be described as a "hot hatch" - that'd be like describing a Rolls Royce Phantom as a "family saloon".

 

Good point, do Rolls fit Isofix mounting points?

 

13 February 2013

Leslie Brook wrote:

Good point, do Rolls fit Isofix mounting points?

Yes, they do!


13 February 2013

bomb wrote:

Leslie Brook wrote:

Good point, do Rolls fit Isofix mounting points?

Yes, they do!

Then I think it does qualify as a family saloon.

 

13 February 2013

Leslie Brook wrote:

do Rolls fit Isofix mounting points?

I think Rolls would fit solid gold isofix points with rhino horn release buttons if you paid them enough.

13 February 2013

Sporky McGuffin wrote:

As for the BMW M135, the appeal of the A45 is that Angel it's four wheel drive, which some will prefer, (b) it's quite a bit less ugly, (c) it'll likely be faster and (d) it's not a BMW. All of these matter to some people and not to others.

I completely agree. Give me this over the fuck-ugly 1-Series any day of the week.

13 February 2013

I can see the appeal of this car (it's kerbside appeal is certainly compelling) but in some respects it is a little too much.

In some ways it leaves me hankering for a warm version (think of the way the Focus ST to the Focus RS), which has 95% of the ability in a less complex, two wheel drive package.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again
  • Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
    First Drive
    13 October 2017
    Off-road estate is now bigger, more spacious and available with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, but is it enough to make its German rivals anxious?