Superb little Mercedes
THE best car from hallowed performance house AMG is its newest and cheapest.
The $75,000 A45 is nothing less than a historic event.
Benz and its tuning partner conspire to deliver not only the greatest hot hatch but also effectively future proof this line against the coming day when the V8 rear-drive autobahn stormer is, if not actually illegal, so socially abhorrent as to make no odds.
That this partly all-wheeldrive but mainly bum dragging five-door is the fastest car under $100,000 is to some extent only to be expected. AMG was hardly going to halve its cylinder count and swap its drive wheels in or- der to bring the world a superannuated Golf GTI.
This is a game changer, a paradigm buster, an accomplishment to make any thinking performance car buyer reconsider every perception and prejudice. VALUE The next rung up, the C63 AMG, starts at about $150K. The A45 not only opens AMG to punters who would never previously have considered this brand while sober but it also makes a powerful case for being the best value car on sale.
All right, $74,900 is a few grand over BMW’s comparable M135i auto but the latter is not a fully fledged M car. The A45 shows that the A-Class was in no little part conceived with an eventual AMG incarnation at top of mind, as marketing types say. It is the whole 10 metres, a literally fully blown AMG.
That ‘‘entry’’ sum buys the complete package. Only nice paint, sunroof and a few fancy fiddly bits are optional. You get Comand satnav, hugely grippy tyres on cool 19-inch alloys, enough body kit to satisfy all but the irredeemably kitsch, fireworks exhaust and seven-speed twin-clutch auto with an aggressive sport mode and necksnapping launch control.
Factor in the capability of smoking almost anything this side of a Porsche 911 S — but with suburban compatible passenger and load capacity — and you have a package that asks questions of everything fromWRXSTI to HSV.
Arriving soon at some $11K more is the decidedly more stylish twin-underthe-skin CLA 45 AMG. TECHNOLOGY I am not overjoyed to discover this version of 4Matic all-wheel-drive is not only part-time but also channels only 50 per cent of available torque rearward. However, it rapidly banishes visions of the dull-witted, insincere devices typically attached to compact SUVs.
You’ll need to dial off the stability program (and find a track) to test the Pirellis.
The world’s most powerful four-cylinder packs more kilowatts than BMW’s six-pot turbo 135i and equals its torque. DESIGN If the basic A-Class makes even those dismissive of hatches look twice, they won’t be able to take their eyes off this.
She’s pretty sick, mate, especially from the rear threequarters where the rising waistline is set off by haunches like an East German shotputter. It’s a great cabin, rich and dark, with performance accents that allude to its ability.
The entry sum buys the complete package with only nice paint, sunroof and a few fancy fiddly bits optional
Even those dismissive of hatches will look twice at this