Hot-hatch power war

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - JOHN CAREY

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

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