Mercedes A45 AMG review
The Mercedes A45 AMG is a scorching-hot version of the Mercedes A-Class that has the BMW M135i in its sights
Mercedes’ first hot hatch the A45 AMG sees the classy looking A-Class get all the ingredients needed to battle cars like the BMW M135i and Audi S3 in the premium hot hatch sector. Powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-charged engine that produces 355bhp and 450Nm of torque, the A45 is the fastest A-Class yet. To cope with all this power it gets four-wheel drive, revised suspension and upgraded brakes, while AMG body kit treatment ensures it looks the part. There’s no manual gearbox option but the A45 is equipped with Mercedes’ eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. With a near £40k price tag the A45 AMG isn’t cheap and options can easily rack up the bill, but it offers serious performance in a practical hatch body.
Our choice: A45 AMG
With its rakish lines and head-turning looks the Mercedes A-Class is an attractive and upmarket hatchback. The A45 takes things a step further by adding a muscular bodykit, bigger 18-inch wheels and lowered suspension. Deep bumpers, an AMG grille and twin-exit exhaust finish the racy look, but at a quick glance you could still mistake the A45 for a conventional A-Class in AMG Sport trim. You can add optional carbon trim and mirrors to help it stand out more, but they’re very expensive. Inside, eye-catching red trim adds to the standard A-Class’ stylish cabin but, as with the exterior, it’s easy to get carried away with very expensive options.
As you’d expect for a car wearing the AMG badge, the A45 delivers scintillating performance. Helped by four-wheel drive and launch control it will rocket to 60mph in just 4.3 seconds, although with peak torque arriving higher up in the rev range than key rival the BMW 135i, the Mercedes can feel a fraction sluggish low in the revs in the higher gears. However, keep the revs above 2,000rpm and the A45 never feels anything other than explosively fast. The AMG A-Class also features the grip needed to deal with this performance. Taut body control is matched to all-wheel drive traction, while powerful brakes and accurate steering finish the impressive dynamics. Although, the trade-off for this taut set-up is a very firm ride. The Mercedes’ four-cylinder engine doesn’t sound as good as the six-cylinder M135i, either, while the BWM is more agile and entertaining.
The Mercedes A-Class gained a full five stars from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2012. Every model comes with ESP and the A45 gets a driver fatigue monitor and city safe anti-collision technology. Other Mercedes active safety kit is available on the lengthy options list, while four-wheel drive brings added security in wintry conditions. Mercedes dealers ranked 12th in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power survey, while Mercedes finished an impressive 5th in the overall ranking, so reliability concerns should be small, especially, as AMG is famed for its meticulous testing and development of performance models.
The second-generation A-Class’ shift from being a mini MPV to a style led premium hatchback means it’s less practical than the old car. While it’s longer and wider, it’s 160mm lower and the new approach has had a big impact on the boot dimensions - more than 90 litres smaller than in its predecessor’s, capacity is down on the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3, too. Rear legroom is okay and headroom is good but the roof does narrow at each side, while the rising waistline means you can feel a bit hemmed in. Over the shoulder visibility is none too special, either. While, the stiff suspension and 18-inch wheels of the A45 deliver a firm ride, limiting long-distance comfort, especially for rear seat passengers. There’s no spare wheel, the A45 comes with foam tyre sealant.
With standard stop/start and emissions of 161g/km the A45 AMG is impressively clean for a car that produces more than 350bhp. Cleaner than the BMW M135i, the Merc sits three tax brackets lower, although its near £40k price tag means the cheaper BMW will cost company car drivers similar amounts of tax. Mercedes offer monthly direct debit fixed price-servicing deals, which make it easier to budget for maintenance, while near 50 per cent residuals are a bonus for private buyers. However, watch out for the massive options list, as getting carried away here can easily add £10k to the bill and you won’t recover that expenditure come part-exchange time. Expect to average around 25mpg, while group 43 insurance means coverage will likely be costly.