Juicy details on AMG’s apex-hungry A45 and McLaren’s tech-laden Speedtail
EXCLUSIVE: Drift mode, 294kW & ‘next level’ handling
THE NEXT MERCEDES-AMG A45 is set to take the hot hatch benchmark to a new level with sub-4.0sec 0-100km/h launch control acceleration, F1-inspired mild hybrid tech and ‘next level’ handling including a tyre-frying drift mode. Expected to officially break cover at next year’s Frankfurt motor show in September, MOTOR can exclusively reveal the first details of AMG’s hottestever hatch, one that promises to send all-wheel drive rivals like the Audi RS3 and Ford Focus RS packing. Speaking exclusively about the new hyper hatch at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, recently, AMG chairman Tobias Moers said the 2019 A45 represented a new level of performance for a transverse engine Mercedes-Benz model, keenly describing the upcoming five-door as “an unbelievable car”. Set to follow the recently unveiled A35 4MATIC into Australian showrooms, Moers revealed the new A45 will pack more than 294kW, or over 14kW more than its predecessor, from a new turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder – a sufficient enough gain in power to push it ahead of the Audi RS3 for overall firepower. A final power figure is not planned to be disclosed until closer to the new model’s scheduled unveiling next year. Despite the power bump, the AMG chairman said there is more to the upcoming second-gen A45 than merely output alone, suggesting a largely new chassis, including a mostly bespoke MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension boasting variable damping, making it a “more engaging and more emotional car to drive”. “There’s no oversteer, it is better handling. You feel every corner at the Nordschleife (a reference to the Nurburgring circuit where a good deal of the new five-door hatchback’s development has taken place during the European summer). It is also better riding; we’re very focused on chassis stiffness,” said Moers. Like all new compact models from Mercedes-Benz, the 2019 A45 is based around a heavily re-engineered platform. Known internally as the MFA2 structure, it has been reworked in various areas by the team at AMG to provide the new car with a level of rigidity described as being beyond that of regular fourth-generation A-Class models. Further changes are aimed at the chassis, which receives its own unique track widths and a newly developed four-wheel drive system (4MATIC+) able to send the majority of drive to the rear wheels in certain driving modes. This is an advance on the old model, whose allwheel drive system could only apportion up to 50 per cent to the rear wheels. This critical change in the drivetrain has enabled AMG to provide the new A45 with a drift function similar to that originally brought to the E63 S. “It will go sideways,” enthused Moers, who previously headed up new vehicle development at AMG prior to being elevated to chairman in 2013, hinting it will go a long way to answering criticism
of the clinical driving characteristics of the initial A45. News of the adoption of the new fourwheel drive system and drift function comes after the unveiling of the new A35, a car the AMG boss said delivers a level of handling beyond “the A45 of today, if not more”. Moers confirmed the new A45 will pack a “totally new engine”. What he hasn’t yet revealed is the transversely mounted unit will feature a 48-volt electric system used to power an auxiliary compressor and integrated starter/alternator. This gives it mildhybrid properties, including a so-called boost function that liberates added power under acceleration and the ability to recuperate kinetic energy both under braking and on a trailing throttle. Based on the M260 engine used by the latest A250 and recently unveiled A35, the new four-cylinder boasts the same swept volume as the M133 that powered the first-gen A45, with bore and stroke of 83mm and 92mm giving an overall capacity of 1991cc. Key elements of the new engine, which will be produced at Mercedes-Benz’s Kolleda factory in Germany, include a newly designed aluminium block. It is manufactured from an aluminium alloy known as ‘AlSi7Mg’, features the same 90mm cylinder spacing as the M133 and uses Mercedes-Benz’s patented Nanoslide coating for the cylinder walls to reduce frictional losses. Additionally, the cylinder head has also been reworked. It is produced from an aluminium alloy known as ‘AlSi10MgZr’ that includes zirconium silicate to increase thermal conductivity. The new four-cylinder also receives the German car maker’s spray-guided direct-injection, chain-driven camshafts and a twin-scroll turbocharger that, like that of the old engine, is programmed to operate at a maximum 26psi of boost pressure. Engineering sources at AMG say the routing of air from the inlet manifold into the cylinders is similar to that of the old M133 at around 1200mm, suggesting it will boast similar levels of throttle response to its predecessor.
Details of the exact power output of the new A45 currently remain tightly under wraps, though Moers said AMG’s version of the M260 engine will outgun the M133. “It’s not yet certified, so we can’t talk about the output at the moment. But it will be over 400 metric horsepower,” said the AMG chairman. This points to an output of more than 294kW – which is the exact output of the current Audi RS3. By comparison, the first-generation A45 served up 280kW at 6000rpm along with 475Nm of torque on a band of revs between 2250 and 5000rpm. It is largely expected the “over 400 metric horsepower” figure divulged by Moers will be applied to a new range-
topping A45 S model, while a ‘base’ A45 will receive a version of the new M260 engine tuned to a similar level as today’s M133 power unit. Various reports quote the AMG head as saying the A45’s new engine will be mated with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, although this has yet to be 100 per cent confirmed. With the current model offering no manual transmission option, it’s almost certain the next A45 will follow suit. Assuming it hits the scales at a similar weight to today’s 1480kg firstgeneration A45 4MATIC, the new model may well be in line to become the first series production hatchback to deliver a 0-100km/h time under 4.0sec – some 0.2sec faster than its predecessor. Nothing is official just yet, but AMG officials have revealed the Audi RS3 and its 4.1sec 0-100km/h time is the clear acceleration benchmark, with a launch-control-assisted sub-4.0sec sprint likely for the 2019 A45. Stylistically, AMG’s new hyper hatch will be differentiated from the A35 by a more aggressive Panamerica grille set within a uniquely styled front bumper featuring larger air ducts. Further exterior elements include uniquely designed wheels up to 20 inches in diameter, wider sills underneath the doors, a more prominent rear hatch spoiler and larger rear diffuser. Inside, the second-generation A45 will feature its own unique digital instrument graphics and Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX operating system among a range of sporting touches, including an AMG multi-function steering wheel, front seats and trim elements. The 2019 A45 is unlikely to reach Australian shores by the end of next year, a 2020 on-sale date more likely. Pricing is currently the exclusive realm of speculation; the outgoing, heavily specified A45 is $78,240.
GEARBOX An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission a possibility
ENGINE Next-gen M260 utilises spray-guided direct injection, chaindriven camshafts and a twin-scroll turbo running 26psi
BELOW RIGHT Tech cutaway of the ‘first-gen’ A45 contains clues for the second SUSPENSION A largely bespoke setup includes MacPherson struts at the front, a multi-link rearend and variable damper control
FAR RIGHT Up to 20-inch wheels set to feature; ride height on test mules is remarkably low
MAIN Full-on Panamerica front grille mooted, but we’ve gone for something else with our comgens
Artist’s impression ABOVE Will the 2019 A45 nudge the $100K mark in Oz? We might not know until 2020
BELOW Expect steering wheel-mounted traction-control and exhaust-mode buttons (like C63)
Artist’s impression ABOVE A bigger wing and diffuser at the rear will add visual flair as well as aid aero. Expect quad pipes, too