Juicy de­tails on AMG’s apex-hun­gry A45 and McLaren’s tech-laden Speed­tail

EXCLUSIVE: Drift mode, 294kW & ‘next level’ han­dling

Motor (Australia) - - POWER. PERFORMANCE. PASSION. -

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

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