Mercedes reckons forthcoming second-generation A45 could beat the McLaren Senna for bhp per litre
8 March 2018

The next-generation Mercedes-AMG A45 looks set to have the highest specific output for a production engine in the world, eclipsing even the McLaren Senna and its 789bhp V8.

AMG boss Tobias Moers told Autocar at the Geneva motor show that the A45 will have "well over 400bhp" from its new engine, which is expected to be an extensively reengineered version of the current car's 2.0-litre lump.

That means it will have more than 200bhp per litre, ranking the car at least 12bhp/litre higher than the current A45 and beating the current specific output champion, the 197bhp per litre Senna.

The model, dubbed by insiders as 'The Predator' as a nod to its extreme performance, is expected to serve a slam dunk to Audi Sport and its archrival RS3 in the pairing's ongoing super hatch fight, while also ensuring the A45 offers stronger straight-line performance than the soon to arrive and likely more adjustable BMW M2 CSL.

Despite rumours to the contrary, the model will be pure petrol and will not require a hybrid set-up to produce its headline-grabbing numbers. "It's going to be the next step in every perspective, including driving dynamics," said Moers, who also confirmed that a softer AMG model, the A35, "will arrive ahead of the A45".

The A45 has been spotted testing several times in recent months, but the most recent sighting showed the car's production-spec exhausts for the first time - suggesting that powertrain development is now at an advanced stage. The latest development car's quad-exit system features oval exits in place of the current A45's more squared-off tips.

Also featured is Mercedes' Panamericana front grille, giving the 2019 car a design nod to the recently revealed AMG GT 4-door Coupé.

AMG's upcoming all-wheel-drive five-door mega-hatch will have its own unique chassis developments that could allow it to run in an ultra-low track mode like the development car pictured in our gallery appears to be doing.

The model can squat to bring its sump to little more than an inch from the ground. The current car is renowned for its stiff adjustable set-up, so this development car suggests AMG could be targeting even more body composure for track-day driving in its future model.

Today’s four-year-old 376bhp first-generation A45 is capable of 0-62mph in 4.2sec, but AMG is planning to ramp up straight-line performance further still. The basis for the changes to the M133 unit comes from Mercedes’ new M260 four-cylinder engine. This is derived from the older M270 motor used by today’s A-Class, but has a new crankcase and cylinder head.

Initially, the reworked M133 will feature a traditional exhaust gas-driven twin-scroll turbocharger. However, AMG is also developing a more advanced variant of its new engine that uses a 48V electrical system and runs both an electric-driven turbocharger and electric motor in a hybrid set-up that promises an even greater ramp-up in performance.

AMG is also looking to endow its new hatchback model with an extra 20lb ft — a move that, insiders have told Autocar, will provide it with at least 369lb ft and allow its 0-62mph sprint to crack the 4.0sec mark.

The changes to the A45’s driveline extend to its gearbox and multi-plate-clutch four-wheel-drive system. Both have been extensively redesigned to handle the higher torque loadings of the new model.

In line with developments further down the new A-Class line-up, AMG’s new flagship hatchback model is set to adopt a new nine-speed dual-clutch transmission, together with a faster-reacting four-wheel-drive system that offers greater variability in the drive split between the front and rear wheels, plus a torque vectoring function for added on-the-limit handling delicacy.

The new A45 won’t be the only AMG model in the line-up for the new A-Class, which is codenamed W177. AMG has confirmed plans for a second model to be positioned beneath today’s A45 successor in a move that will challenge the likes of the Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus RS, as well as BMW's next 1 Series hot hatch, which is set to adopt all-wheel drive.

The second performance hatchback model is set to adopt one of AMG’s traditional model designations — insiders talk of the prospect of either the A32 4Matic or A36 4Matic name being used — and it is expected to receive a fettled version of the M260 engine, developing more than 300bhp.

“We’ve identified a market for a milder AMG model positioned below the A45 4Matic,” AMG boss Tobias Moers told Autocar. “The strategy is going to be similar to that seen further up the line-up, where our various ‘43’ models support the ‘63’ models.”

The new A45 builds on the developments of the fourth-generation A-Class, which is due in 2018. The model is the first of up to eight new compact cars, which include replacements for today’s B-Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, as well as the GLA. There will also be an A-Class Saloon (and its own 400bhp A45 variant), a GLB and a possible new seven-seat version of the GLB.

The new A-Class will be 10mm longer than today’s car and adopt a new floorpan and body structure that are claimed to provide significant increases in rigidity. This, in turn, is claimed to provide the new rival to the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series with vastly improved refinement.

The new A45 will also get a significantly wider front track and receive its own unique wheel carriers in a bid to reduce unsprung mass. It will roll on standard 18in wheels, but 19in rims will be an option.

The A45’s styling takes a whole new direction with the adoption of Mercedes’ so-called ‘predator face’ — as revealed on the Concept A Saloon at the 2017 Shanghai motor show. Insiders at AMG’s Affalterbach headquarters say customer feedback has encouraged them to provide the new model with a more extreme look.

Additional reporting by Sam Sheehan and Andrew Frankel

Matt Saunders comment - Will power corrupt the AMG A45?

I’d change very little about the current Mercedes-AMG A45. The reports of even greater power and performance are to be expected: AMG needs the car to remain well clear of its cheaper hot hatchback opposition. I just hope the extra poke doesn’t come at the cost of the current car’s cleverly honed ride and handling compromise, which is very nicely judged for UK B-roads. A bit more Ford Focus RS-style balance and throttle-on handling adjustability out of that four-wheel-drive system isn’t a bad idea, mind.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG features a 355bhp turbocharged engine

AMG pops its hatchback cherry in singular, inimitable fashion

Join the debate


29 June 2017
Absolute bonkers! That's faster than many a sport cars.

29 June 2017
Power is cheap. Every generation becomes more powerful - and bigger.
Increase in engine power is no more interesting than increase in computing power.
Meanwhile visibility gets worse, packaging and ride comfort make no meaningful improvements ...
Car manufacturers nolonger care about the car as a complete consumer product. Handling and performance are prioritised so the car gets more stars in a motoring magazine and sells more.

29 June 2017
the new Fiesta than this. The Mercedes will have power and grip far beyond that which you can exploit on the public road. A Fiesta ecoboost will give you lightness, sweet exploitable handling, a punchy little engine and affordability. Any car that democratises fun will be something I look forward to over a testosterone trophy car.

29 June 2017
Whatever is the point in these absurd pictures?

I agree completely with the points being made about fun being removed from the equation. I again blame the wretched and pointless pursuit of Nurburgring lap times for this.

Fun and lap times are nearly 100% incompatible. I so wish Autocar would grasp hold of this cause, as it so eloquently used to.

29 June 2017
The problem with the way hot hatches are heading these days is what is going to happen to them when they grow old. If there were only one or two of these super hatches, there'd be a chance of them finding homes with collectors who would want them as something special. However, it seems to be becoming almost the norm to have three hundred plus horsepower and four second to sixty performance, so due to being relatively commonplace they will be of less interest to classic collectors and also unaffordable to the banger market due to running costs.

There is an established pattern for even standard family cars to frequently have tyres which would cost more for a set than the value of a banger, so a change of rubber for these ever-hotter hatches would be a total no-no for budget motorists. And that is just one example of a typical cost which banger drivers would not normally consider a terminal expense for a car which would make scrapping it the necessary option. The same goes for other consumables such as brakes or exhaust.

We are stocking up an entirely unsustainable number of cars which will be redundant long before their useful life is finished. Not clever when longevity is the greatest requirement for environmental sustainability.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


29 June 2017
I was given an AMG 45 service care for the day, while they serviced my Mercedes messed about A200 and i preferred my A200 i could feel the weight of the 4 wheel drive, it turned a day of messing about with an AMG 45 into a wasted of time, i drove home and got on with paying work. Yes i know mercedes tweaked my A200 turbo and 7 speed gearbox pattern, which they still deign they was just a software upgrade no one else gets unless u complain. so adding power i don't see the point in everyday driving.

29 June 2017
I was given an AMG 45 service care for the day, while they serviced my Mercedes messed about A200 and i preferred my A200 i could feel the weight of the 4 wheel drive, it turned a day of messing about with an AMG 45 into a wasted of time, i drove home and got on with paying work. Yes i know mercedes tweaked my A200 turbo and 7 speed gearbox pattern, which they still deign they was just a software upgrade no one else gets unless u complain. so adding power i don't see the point in everyday driving.

29 June 2017
...that cars are getting stupid, and less desirable with almost each new release.

29 June 2017
I remember driving my 998cc Mini around empty roads, absolutely on the limit at fairly sensible speeds. The fun part was being on the limit. That's where modern cars leave me so cold as they are just too good, and too clinical. You would have to be going an obscene speed to get this anywhere near the limit and that to me makes it pointless.

And if you take it on track I have little doubt you will just wear it out the consumable and break it in less than an hour.

Cars like this are just automotive jewellery for recruitment consultants and small time drug dealers.

29 November 2017

Coming soon to do doughnuts in an Asda car park near you… 

You've just describe James Hunt's approach beautifully - he drove an Austin A35 van on the public road for exactly those reasons. 

These new-generation hatches are deeply unsubtle: yes, their performance puts them in the same ball park as a 911, but the latter at least has a sublime chassis, even if they could do with less power, not more, to make them more relevant for fun on the public road.


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