Hot-hatch power war
ELBOWING Audi aside, Mercedes-AMG has reclaimed its place at the front of the hot hatchback pack.
It’s only two months since the four-ring brand unveiled its new Audi RS3 Sportback in Europe, well ahead of its scheduled October arrival in Australia.
Audi boasted of the top-ofthe-class 270kW of its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo — now the three-pointed star has revealed an updated version of the A45, due in Australia in December or early next year.
AMG’s 2.0-litre fourcylinder turbo will deliver 280kW and an epic 475Nm, up 15kW and 25Nm on the outgoing engine.
Changes to the A45’s sevenspeed double-clutch gearbox, along with the power hike, make the little all-wheel-drive five-door from Mercedes-AMG even faster than before, and quicker than Audi’s RS3 Sportback.
With the ratios for third to seventh gears stacked more tightly than before, Mercedes- AMG claims 4.2 seconds for the A45’s sprint from 0-100km/h, or 0.1 sec swifter than the RS3 Sportback.
The go-faster alterations to the A45 are the highlights of a package of changes affecting the entire A-Class line-up.
Some other models also get power boosts. The 2.0-litre turbo four of the updated A250 Sport will produce 160kW, an increase of 5kW.
More importantly, Benz’s update will bring a solution for the A-Class’s stiff and sometimes uncomfortable suspension.
Engineers set up a demonstration on the company’s ride simulation rig in Stuttgart for a foretaste of what an A-Class with its Dynamic Select adaptive shock absorbers will feel like. Compared to competitors “A” and “B” (obviously an Audi and a BMW), the simulated A-Class was more comfortable in “Comfort” than one and much better in “Sport” than the other.
Dynamic Select, if it’s not priced too high, is likely to be an option worth having in Australia. In Europe it will cost the equivalent of about $1500.
The updated A-Class will also be the first Mercedes-Benz with Apple’s clever Car Play technology. Via an iPhone connected by cable to the car, compatible apps will appear on the screen in the centre of the dashboard.
Even more importantly, Car Play will enable use of the iPhone’s phone’s Siri voice control technology, making it possible to listen to and answer SMS messages without taking the eyes off the road.
Car Play will be an option and will work with all current and recent iPhone models.
Some Android, but not all, smartphones will have similar ability via Mirrorlink software.
The launch of the updated A-Class will also be marked by the introduction of a new bright-green metallic paint and, for Australia, a Motorsport Edition package of sporty add-ons using the same green scheme as Mercedes-Benz’s dominant Formula One cars.
Front of the pack: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG