MERCEDES-BENZ A45 AMG
The world’s fastest all-wheel-drive hot hatches have Porsche-beating performance for a fraction of the price, says Joshua Dowling
The price of the A45 AMG crept up with the arrival of the justreleased Series II model (new front bumper, more power, improved suspension) from $75,800 to $77,900 but it is loaded with more standard equipment, most notably the adjustable Ride Control suspension.
With its bold front and rear bumpers and big wheels and brakes, the A45 looks like a race car straight off the showroom floor. Inside, there is a faux carbon-fibre weave on the dash, race-car-style seats and steering wheel with massive grips. It’s a class act inside and out, although not as roomy as the Audi.
The A45 has the most powerful mass production 2.0-litre turbo engine in the world (now with 280kW/475Nm, increases of 15kW and 25Nm). Matched to a seven-speed twin-clutch auto with new ratios, it can now do the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.2 seconds — a claim we were able to match in launch mode. In sport mode it does 4.9 seconds.
It’s hard to see how Mercedes can squeeze nine airbags into such a small car but it has done so, with two front, two curtains, one for the driver’s knee and then side airbags in each front seat and the left and right rear seats. Before they go to work, though, there is a collision warning and auto emergency braking In fact, it lacks nothing.
New suspension has transformed the A45 from being bone-jarring to pampering. It’s now usable as a daily-driver. The new transmission ratios and engine tune help it get off the line quicker but there is still a noticeable lack of torque at low revs in normal driving. To get the most out of the performance you have to go through four time-consuming sequences before you can take off, which kind of defeats the purpose.