A few weeks ago my editor, Sean Nurse, road-tested the updated Mercedes-Benz A220d; he went on to report that he really enjoyed the ride quality and the fuel economy levels. I, on the other hand, got the chance to road test the more savage AMG derivative of the A-Class, the A45 AMG.
You see, a performance car needs to look the part and the A45 definitely looks the part of boy racer, especially when you take into account the huge rear wing that was fitted to my test car. The changes made to the overall design have not been drastic but more a sharpening-up of the design features. The front-end of the car might not look all that different but on closer inspection you will notice a new lower bumper with large air intakes for cooling. The design is similar to that found on other, newer AMG models.
At the rear, there’s that large spoiler that tells everyone in a Golf GTI or Focus ST that you mean business! In addition, there’s the new rear taillight design and lower bumper. All in all, the changes are subtle but effective.
There isn’t much to tell you about the inside. Unlike other AMG models, there were no AMG badges littering the interior. The only way you would know that this was not an A220d was the fact that the speedometer dialled it up to 320km/h and the gear lever is a short, stubby little thing with a little dial just below it, which gives you the option of selecting between different driving modes.
Is the interior of the car a nice place to be? Yes, it’s not the best layout in my opinion but the quality has been improved compared to the previous model and the infotainment system is one of the nicest on the market. The sporty seats are also comfortable and space inside is decent.
Now, the A45 AMG is the world’s most powerful 2.0-litre production hatch back, which means it should be great to drive, so is it? Top up the tank with 95 Octane and it most definitely is quick. For instance, 0-100km/h is dispatched in around 4.3 seconds. The A45 turbocharged 2.0-litre motor now develops 280kW and 475Nm. Power is put down via a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The engineers have also tweaked the first three gear rations and made them shorter. This means that the car is able to get the best use of its power off the line.
They have also improved on the ride quality. Select Comfort mode and the car really composes itself over our uneven road surfaces. However, select Sport+ mode and it gets all excited. The suspension firms up and the throttle becomes super sensitive. The active exhaust also, turns up the volume to 11. Now it’s a proper hyper hatch; the car is relentless in its forward momentum, pushing you further back into the seat while every gear change is executed with a loud shotgun-like bang. Approach a corner and the car grips to the road, as if it knows your life depended on it.
After spending much time with the new A45 AMG I can confirm that the changes made by Mercedes-Benz have been good ones; much needed ones at that. The car feels more Mercedes-Benz now, and that’s a good thing. As for the competition, well there is the Audi RS3 which is still one of my top drives of this year so far. I think it looks better than the A45 both inside and out and even though the 7-GTronic gearbox in the Mercedes is quick, it’s not Audi S-Tronic quick.
That said though, the Audi is R775 500 in standard form and the Mercedes-AMG A45 is R737 314 in its standard attire. It’s a close match and both cars are exceptionally impressive, the way in which they deliver the thrill that you desire from a hyper hatch. The A45 blends sports car-like performance with everyday practicality.