The Citizen (KZN)

New Merc-AMGs rock


- Mark Jones

World’s most powerful turbocharg­ed engine for series production.

Mercedes-AMG were, and still are to a large extent, known for producing monster V8 performanc­e cars.

They were also known for producing cars that only really go fast in a straight line. But you would be in complete denial if you did not acknowledg­e that those days are long, long gone.

Mercedes-AMG cars can go around corners with the best of them now, and their compact offerings are one of the most popular choices today.

We were invited to the Zwartkops Raceway to sample Mercedes’ new A 35 and 45 S AMG models at full tilt around the track. We got play on the skidpan in Drift Mode on the A 45 S too.

I will start with the entry point into the Mercedes-AMG brand now, the A 35. Offered in Hatch, Sedan and Four-door Coupe formats, this dynamic trio are all powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant that produces 225kW and 400Nm.

This power and torque are channeled through an AMG SpeedShift DCT 7G dual-clutch transmissi­on to the wheels via variable AMG Performanc­e 4Matic all-wheel drive running on an AMG suspension. The claimed 0 to 100km/h numbers come in at a rather quick 4.7sec for the hatch, 4.8sec for the sedan, and 4.9sec for the CLA.

But as much as this is the entry into the brand, it is the two AMG A 45 S models, the Hatch and the CLA that stole the show at the launch event, and will probably do so on the streets of South Africa too.

Ironically, I need to add that for me, the biggest improvemen­t to the A 45 is in the dynamics department, and these cars will do more damage to their competitor­s in the twisties and on the track than in a straight-line.

Make no mistake, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant under the bonnet is not said to be the world’s most powerful turbocharg­ed engine manufactur­ed for series production for nothing. Running a single turbo that is boosting a heady 2.1 bar, the 45 S produces 310kW of power and 500Nm of torque.

This is said to get the hatch to a supercar-like 0 to 100km/h sprint time of just 3.9sec, and 4.0sec for the CLA when making use of the Race Start function of the AMG SpeedShift DCT 8G dual-clutch transmissi­on. Top speed is electronic­ally limited to 270km/h Just like the A 35, the A 45 comes with all-wheel drive, but on this top-of-the-range version you get the likes of AMG Torque Control meaning drive power can not only be completely variably distribute­d between the front and rear wheels, but also selectivel­y between left and right rear wheel.

And this not only makes for a very composed and easy car to drive really fast, it also allows you to have fun when you want via the standard Drift mode function.

The work of driving slow, safe or fast is further taken care of by six AMG Dynamic Select driving modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Race. Pick the one that suits the conditions best and the electronic­s will allow you to extract the best out of the car for that situation.

You can take this a step further by going for the optional AMG Ride Control system that offers adaptive damping and the choice of three different suspension control modes, from comfort focused to sporty.

Braking is taken care of by high-performanc­e 350mm front and 330mm rear brake discs, and if you want more, you can delve into the options bin and tick the AMG Dynamic Plus package and get six-piston fixed calipers up front on 360mm discs.

The standard AMG exhaust gives you the bark to match the bite on the A 45, and if you are into piping the sound into the car, then the AMG Real Performanc­e Sound option is for you. At the press of a button, you can adjust what you hear on the inside between subtle, to sporty to a powerful motorsport-type sound.

Backing up my claim that the A 45’s are fast in the corners, the AMG Track Pace, a standard fitment virtual race engineer, is there to continuous­ly monitor more than 80 vehicle-specific data points, including lap and sector times, and after a track session you can use this data to improve your track skills.

Buying into the AMG brand is not cheap, but man, what they have on offer sure can put a smile on your face. Watch this space as we put the A 35 and A 45 S to the test at Gerotek.

Top speed electronic­ally limited to 270km/h

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