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Born NOT to be mild – Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

Aside from those in the ‘supercar’ area, on the whole, vehicle manufacturers create models to appeal to some sort of mass-market, especially when it comes to Hatchbacks. After all, in New Zealand, the ‘hatch’ segment itself is losing ground to all manner of SUVs so why wouldn’t they. Then, to make them ‘hotter’ they hand ‘normally docile’ vehicle over to their performance team who add on things like a heftier engine, uprated suspension, better brakes and go-faster decals, but still, the docile core remains. 

Not so with the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+. Oh no, from the moment the new A-class was conceived, AMG was there to meddle, but in a good way, which is why even the ‘lowly’ A180 has more of a spring to its step. But of course, this 45 S, top of the line super sports hatch offers so much more. 

Mercedes-AMG A 45 S review NZ

Firstly, the AMG developers extensively reinforced the bodyshell, as according to them, it provides the basis for its precise self-steering characteristics as well as track and camber stability when driving at high speed (for which you’ll do a lot).

There’s nothing ‘plain’ about the exterior either. My ‘edition 1’ review model came in Sun Yellow with black decals and even boasted a sun roof. The front apron is now a distinguishing feature, with a jet-wing design. There are horizontal fins in the outer air inlets and the stretched lower air inlet emphasise the compact car’s impression of width. 

Mercedes-AMG A 45 S review NZ

Its silhouette showcases wider AMG side skirts that visually lower hatch so it appears to hug the road more closely, but actually it DOES hug the road closely! The mirrors have been mounted on the door muscle to echo the look of Mercedes-AMG coupés and sportscars plus it improves aerodynamics and then there’s the 19-inch feet with Michelin Pilot rubber and large, red-painted 6-piston brake callipers with black AMG lettering.

The rear view offers up quad 90 mm exhaust tailpipes with internal fluting and AMG lettering, it has a wide rear apron and a diffuser with vertical twin fins to contribute to better aero-performance. Plus the impression of width is emphasised further by the slim two-piece rear light clusters. To top it all off, it has a roofline spoiler with another more garish spoiler on top – because everyone needs two spoilers. 

Mercedes-AMG A 45 S review NZ

The interior is awash with sportiness. Leather-clad bucket seats (firm but necessary), an Alcantara square-sided steering wheel, AMG decals and bright yellow contrast stitching throughout. MBUX and Infotainment comes via a huge interactive display screen and it’s all controlled by dials, touchscreen or voice. This is all well and good but the thing I most want to tell you about is the engine. 

Under the bonnet is a completely newly developed 2.0-litre engine that is the world’s most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder manufactured for series production. What’s more, it is produced on an innovative production line in Affalterbach, on the “One Man, One Engine” principle. 

Mercedes-AMG A 45 S review NZ

Mercedes-AMG has beaten the output of the preceding engine by 30kW (now 310kW) and the maximum torque has also increased from 475 to up to 500Nm. With an output per litre of up to 155kW, the new Mercedes-AMG high-performance turbo engine even ranks ahead of the McLaren Senna. What’s more, the AMG engineers have given it a power delivery akin to a naturally aspirated engine.

Wait, there’s more. With a maximum charge pressure of 2.1 bar, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine is also the leader in its segment. Furthermore, the turbo is air, water and oil-cooled and the shafts of the compressor and turbine have roller bearings for the first time (just like on the V8). To reduce friction between the pistons and cylinders, the linings are coated using patented NANOSLIDE technology. AND, for the first time, it has two-stage fuel injection. For the techies out there (the rest of you can zone out for a moment), in the first stage, the particularly fast and precisely operating piezo injectors supply fuel to the combustion chambers at a pressure of up to 200 bar while in the second stage there is additional intake manifold injection using solenoid valves. This is needed to achieve the engine”s high specific output. The electronically controlled fuel supply has an operating pressure of 6.7 bar – hello, are you still with me?

All that power is married to a very responsive AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8G dual-clutch transmission and gets it to the tarmac via the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive with AMG Torque control – phew.

The result of all the above is a very angry, super hot hatch that in Sports+ or Race mode wants to spar with any (and every) other vehicle on the road, what’s more, it will probably win the fight. Comfort mode isn’t that comfortable and there’s a fair amount of road noise that enters the cabin, but you’re not buying this hatch for comfort are you?

If you’ve got the Mercedes-AMG A45 S because you have a motorsport bent then you’ll be rewarded ten-fold. It’s nimble and agile and extremely rapid. The gear changing is super quick and the downshifting rev-matching works perfectly while the sports exhaust crackles and pops in harmony. It stops on the proverbial dime and offers shed loads of driving confidence. 

Mercedes-AMG A 45 S review NZ

Simply put, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S is an exhilarating ride and is a vehicle that’s born NOT to be mild.

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