Mercedes’ take on a hot hatch gets four-wheel drive and a punchy turbocharged motor, but is it as engaging as its bigger rear-drive brethren?
AMG, purveyors of wonderfully potent big cars, has made a wonderfully potent small one in the form of the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.
To be precise, it delivers 355bhp from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with a mammoth specific power output of 178bhp per litre. And the technical changes to this car run deep, which is why the A45 AMG costs near enough £40,000.
Over and above the A-class hatch on which it’s based, the A45 gets a new bumper and grille at the front, which wouldn’t be significant were they not backed by an intercooler for the turbo, while there’s a secondary radiator inside a front wheelarch.
The steering knuckles are different as well, as are the anti-roll bars, springs and dampers. The electric steering’s constant-ratio rack is bespoke to the AMG too, further differentiating it from the A-class.
The gearbox is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and here’s where the effort has really gone into making this more than just a fast A-class. It drives through Mercedes’ 4Matic system, making the A45 AMG four-wheel-drive. To that end, the multi-link rear suspension is new, while to improve weight distribution, the clutch that enables drive to the rear is mounted at the rear differential.
‘Enables’ drive to the rear? Er, yeah. The A45 is four-wheel drive, but only when slip occurs does it push power to the rear. The 4Matic system is designed to aid traction, rather than providie rally-replica-style permanent all-wheel drive. Does that matter? It might.
Meantime, inside, this A-class feels like an AMG ought to. The black headlining, diddy gear selector and carbonfibre-like fabric weave are neat; the red seatbelts and vent highlights we could live without. The terrific front seats are heavily adjustable and clenching yet comfortable, while the rest of the A-class package is as-you-were: respectable rear head and legroom and a big boot.
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