Mercedes-AMG A45 review: a ‘marvellous’ answer to the Audi RS3
Critics get behind the wheel of the super hatch ahead of its release later this year
The Mercedes-AMG A45 made its public debut earlier this month - and now the critics have put the super hatch through its paces before it goes on sale later this year.
The German carmaker pulled the covers off the production-ready version of the A45 in front of thousands of fans at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Chichester a few weeks ago.
The A45 is based on the A-Class hatchback but it swaps out the regular model’s engine for a 382bhp four-cylinder turbo motor.
Mercedes is expected to announce pricing and an official on-sale date in the run-up to the Frankfurt Motor Show, running from 12 to 22 September, where the car is tipped to take centre stage at the German carmaker’s stand.
For now, here’s a run-down of all the latest news about the super hatch - and what the critics had to say:
Open the driver’s door and you’ll find a cabin that’s overloaded with technology, says Autocar. For instance, there’s a range of ways in which drivers can customise the digital instrument panel and there are “a lot of drive modes” to adjust the characteristics of the car.
The tech extends to the car’s chassis, too. The four-wheel-drive system distributes power differently across each wheel in a bid to maximise grip, meaning understeer is kept to a minimum so drivers can “get on the power”, the magazine notes.
“If there’s a weak link it’s perhaps the steering,” argues Auto Express. “It’s quite light and not brimming with feel,” meaning drivers have to rely on “invisible but vast amounts of grip served up by the four-wheel-drive system rather than the accuracy of the steering itself”.
When the A45 isn’t being thrashed around a circuit, it’s a “polished and civilised” hatchback that can be easily used for long motorway cruises, the motoring magazine says. “Fundamentally, the A 45 also remains an A-Class at its core so retains all of the standard model’s usability.”
Still, Car magazine concludes that the A45 is “somewhat marvellous”, thanks to its hi-tech four-wheel-drive system and the “relentless” performance from the engine.
Plus, the four-cylinder motor is “one of the best sounding” engines of its kind, the magazine says, which is sure to be a hit with customers.
The A45 is almost identical to the A35 that it’s based on, adopting the same boot spoiler and aggressive front-end design as the base-level hot-hatchback.
There are, however, a few differences that set the two cars apart.
For example, the A45 has a slightly different front bumper with a larger grille that takes inspiration from the company’s GT supercar. The design around the air inlets for the brakes is slightly more aggressive than the A35, too.
The A45 also sports an extra pair of exhausts over the A35’s dual-exit system and the rear diffuser is marginally larger on the top-spec car.
A45 S models come with an even sportier design, bringing with it matt black multi-spoke wheels. There’s also an optional wing that sits above the boot lid.
The cabin, meanwhile, is typical Mercedes A-Class. The vast infotainment panel that merges with the digital instrument cluster has been plucked from the entry-level hatchback, as has the trio of air vents at the top of the centre console.
The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, along with the deep sports seats and optional contrasting stitching on the seats and dashboard, gives the cabin a sportier feel over the base car.
Engine and performance
Prior to the car’s unveiling at Goodwood, Mercedes confirmed that the A45 would have the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine in production.
The A45 gets a tweaked version of the twin-turbo four-cylinder that powers the current A35, delivering around 382bhp as standard and 415bhp in A45 S form, notes Auto Express.
That makes the A45 S the most powerful hot-hatch on sale, beating the 394bhp Audi RS3, which formerly held the crown, while also surpassing the 376bhp engine found in the previous-generation A45 S.
Power is transmitted to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, helping the A45 S sprint from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds before reaching a top speed of 167mph.