Skip advert
Advertisement

New Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 2023 facelift review

The hottest Mercedes A-Class benefits from changes introduced on rest of the range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Find your Mercedes A-Class
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Hassle-free way to a brand new car
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Verdict

We were big fans of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S before it was updated – and we still are. While some subtle styling changes and improvements to the in-car tech have been introduced, the same outlandish personality remains. That AMG has managed to deliver a car with stunning speed, yet so much involvement, and combined this with a sensible five-door body is astonishing. The A 45 S remains one of the best Mercedes models you can buy.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Mercedes has given its A-Class a little nip and tuck for 2023. We’ve already sampled the changes to the standard family hatch, but now it’s the turn of the AMG models. Both the A 35 and A 45 S receive a little attention, but it’s the hotter of the two cars that we’re trying here.

We reckon that Mercedes struck a great balance between subtlety and menace the first time around, so it’s a good thing that changes to the A 45’s looks are minimal.

The headlights have revised LED internals and flank a grille that has been reshaped. Look closely and you’ll see that the traditional three-pointed star above the grille has been replaced by the AMG logo. There are revised lights at the back, too.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The interior tweaks mirror those in the rest of the A-Class range. The key change comes with an improved version of the MBUX infotainment system. It’s very slick, with quick loading times and razor-sharp graphics. It also introduces some new menu structures that will appeal to keen drivers, because it’s now much easier to switch between the drive modes and customise each one to your specific taste.

Better still is the fact that a small round dial on the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel lets you switch between drive modes on the fly, while the one on the left allows you to configure specific features, such as the exhaust note, damper modes and gearbox. The buttons don’t just look cool, they’re also incredibly intuitive – unlike the slightly fiddly touch-sensitive switches for the stereo and cruise control.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The upgrades to the A 45 don’t alter anything from a mechanical point of view, so it hasn’t got any hotter. But then, it’s not as if it needed to; there are many sports cars that can’t match its staggering pace.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumps out 415bhp and 500Nm. Engage launch control and it’ll crack the 0-62mph sprint in just 3.9 seconds.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

But there’s far more to the A 45 S’s character than straight-line speed. First, there’s the engine itself. While some four-cylinder motors sound a little flat and charmless, this unit is eager and angry. Full-bore upshifts (the gearbox is at its best flat out, but occasionally clunky when driving calmly) are accompanied by a pop from the four tailpipes in the exhaust’s more loutish mode. Some engine-noise augmentation is piped through the speakers, but it’s subtle enough to feel authentic.

The A 45 is just as quick around the corners, too. Grip is phenomenal, and on a dry road you’ll have to work extremely hard to breach its limits. Turn-in is razor sharp, and four-wheel-drive traction lets you get on the throttle very early. In fact, the only time that you’re likely to hear the tyres protest is under heavy braking, when the hugely powerful brakes slow the car, but keep it nice and stable.

If all that sounds like it could produce something a little one-dimensional, then you’d be wrong. There are plenty of hot hatches that are almost as quick point to point, but it’s much rarer to find one that can also deliver an engrossing level of interaction. The A 45 is one of very few cars that does so while making the driver feel like they’re making the difference.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Everything starts with the car’s basic controls. The steering, though fairly light, feels wonderfully precise and loads up naturally through the corners, giving you enough feedback to trust the front axle. It’s a fast set-up, but it’s well matched to the chassis.

The damping is also superb. There’s enough forgiveness in the settings to allow the A 45 to flow with the road, but enough control to keep the body in check at higher speed. Because it’s not so stiff, you can both feel the suspension load up through corners, and use the steering and throttle to adjust the car’s attitude mid-corner. In short, it’s a huge amount of fun.

That suspension tuning also brings benefits elsewhere. When you’d just like to relax, the AMG is really quite comfortable. Even in its firmest setting it’s not harsh, mainly because the springs and dampers isolate the most aggressive bumps from the cabin. The only downside when it comes to refinement is road noise, which is quite noticeable from those fat tyres.

Prices for the revised Mercedes-AMG A 45 S start from £63,285 – and we’d be the first to admit that that is strong money for a hot hatchback. But in terms of what this car can offer – huge speed, feel and practicality – there are very few cars costing similar money that can provide so much.

Model:Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC+
Price:£63,285
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque:415bhp/500Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:3.9 seconds
Top speed:168mph
Economy:30.7mpg
CO2:208g/km
On sale:Now
Skip advert
Advertisement
Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

Skip advert
Advertisement

More on A-Class A45 AMG

Best cheap hot hatchbacks
Best cheap hot hatches - four way header image
Best cars & vans
2 Apr 2024

Best cheap hot hatchbacks

Need an affordable car which delivers on both power and practicality? These cheap hot hatches fit the bill
New Mercedes-AMG A45 S Limited Edition goes green, and yellow
Mercedes-AMG A45 S Limited Edition - front quarter
News
13 Feb 2024

New Mercedes-AMG A45 S Limited Edition goes green, and yellow

AMG’s distinctive Green Hell Magno paintwork has been applied to an A45 S with some yellow highlights alongside
Top 10 best hot hatchbacks to buy 2024
Best hot hatchbacks - header image
Best cars & vans
25 Jan 2024

Top 10 best hot hatchbacks to buy 2024

The best hot hatches offer giant-killing performance and a gripping drive, all wrapped in a user-friendly package
Skip advert
Advertisement
Mercedes-AMG A45 S vs Honda Civic Type R: 2023 twin test review
Mercedes-AMG A45 S and Honda Civic Type R - front tracking
Car group tests
26 Aug 2023

Mercedes-AMG A45 S vs Honda Civic Type R: 2023 twin test review

A refresh has upped the ante for Mercedes-AMG’s A 45 S. How does it shape up against our reigning Hot Hatch of the Year, the Honda Civic Type R?
Revised Mercedes-AMG A 45 hot hatch priced from £63,140
Mercedes-AMG A 45 - front
News
27 Oct 2022

Revised Mercedes-AMG A 45 hot hatch priced from £63,140

Both the A 45 and less powerful A 35 will gain updates inside and out
Audi RS 3 vs Mercedes-AMG A 45 S: 2022 twin test review
Mercedes-AMG A45 vs Audi RS3 twin test
Car group tests
5 Mar 2022

Audi RS 3 vs Mercedes-AMG A 45 S: 2022 twin test review

Two of the hottest hatches on sale do battle as we pitch the new Audi RS 3 against the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S
New 2019 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S to cost from £50,570
Mercedes-AMG A45 Goodwood FoS 2019
News
30 Aug 2019

New 2019 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S to cost from £50,570

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S superhatch boasts a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with 415bhp, and it's on sale in the UK now
New Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 2019 review
Road tests
31 Jul 2019

New Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 2019 review

Does the red-hot Mercedes-AMG A 45 S hatchback make the grade on British tarmac?
Mercedes-AMG A 45 review
Mercedes-AMG A45 - front
In-depth reviews
25 Jul 2017

Mercedes-AMG A 45 review

AMG takes the standard Mercedes A-Class and turns it into a fire-breathing 4WD hyper hatch - the Mercedes-AMG A 45
Skip advert
Advertisement
Ford Focus RS Mountune vs Mercedes-AMG A 45
Ford Focus RS Mountune vs Mercedes-AMG A 45 - header
Car group tests
9 Mar 2017

Ford Focus RS Mountune vs Mercedes-AMG A 45

Mountune kit aims to give the fast Ford Focus RS an edge over the hot Mercedes-AMG A 45
New Mercedes-AMG A45 2016 review
Mercedes-AMG A45 - front
Road tests
22 Dec 2015

New Mercedes-AMG A45 2016 review

Mercedes-AMG's mega new Audi RS3 rival hits British roads, but how does the A45 drive?
Skip advert
Advertisement
Special Mercedes-AMG A 45 Petronas edition marks F1 win
Mercedes-AMG A 45 PETRONAS 2015 World Champion Edition front
News
26 Nov 2015

Special Mercedes-AMG A 45 Petronas edition marks F1 win

Mercedes will launch an F1-themed A 45 hot hatch with livery inspired by the championship-winning F1 team
Mercedes A45 AMG vs a BMW M3 (E93) Convertible
Best cars & vans
30 Oct 2014

Mercedes A45 AMG vs a BMW M3 (E93) Convertible

In this video we have a BMW E93 M3 Convertible with a 420bhp 4.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 and rear-wheel drive.
Audi S3 Saloon vs Mercedes CLA 45 AMG
Car group tests
28 May 2014

Audi S3 Saloon vs Mercedes CLA 45 AMG

Audi's sizzling S3 saloon takes the fight to Mercedes' CLA 45 AMG in the battle of the fast four-doors
Volkswagen Golf R vs mega-hatch rivals
VW Golf R vs Audi RS Q3 vs Mercedes A45 AMG
Car group tests
15 Apr 2014

Volkswagen Golf R vs mega-hatch rivals

Sizzling new 296bhp Volkswagen Golf R meets Audi RS Q3 and Mercedes A45 AMG in performance battle
Skip advert
Advertisement
Mercedes A45 AMG Black Series spied
Mercedes A45 AMG Black Series front
News
22 Aug 2013

Mercedes A45 AMG Black Series spied

We get our first look at the extreme A45 AMG Black Series, expected to develop around 400bhp
Mercedes A45 AMG vs CLA 45 AMG video
Mercedes A45 AMG
Videos
3 Jul 2013

Mercedes A45 AMG vs CLA 45 AMG video

We review the Mercedes A45 AMG with its four-door coupe sister car, the CLA 45 AMG
Mercedes A45 AMG
Mercedes A45 AMG front action
Road tests
11 Jun 2013

Mercedes A45 AMG

We get behind the wheel of the 355bhp Mercedes A45 AMG for the first time to deliver our verdict
Mercedes A45 AMG
Mercedes A45 AMG
News
12 Mar 2013

Mercedes A45 AMG

The 355bhp Mercedes A45 AMG has been unveiled in Geneva wearing a wild aerodynamic bodykit
Mercedes A45 AMG
Mercedes A45 AMG revealed
News
6 Mar 2013

Mercedes A45 AMG

Full story on the new 355bhp Mercedes A45 AMG, following its debut at the Geneva Motor Show
Mercedes A45 AMG on the road
Mercedes A45 AMG prototype front
Road tests
31 Oct 2012

Mercedes A45 AMG on the road

We get an exclusive first ride in a prototype of the 350bhp Mercedes A-Class, ahead of its launch next summer
Skip advert
Advertisement
Mercedes A45 AMG to cost under £40,000
Mercedes A45 AMG
News
31 Oct 2012

Mercedes A45 AMG to cost under £40,000

The Mercedes A45 AMG will undercut the Audi RS3 when it arrives in 2013
Mercedes A45 AMG spied
Mercedes A45 AMG
News
13 Jun 2012

Mercedes A45 AMG spied

Hot A-Class has been spied on the road, as Mercedes reveals official details on its Audi RS3 rival