2013 Mercedes A45 AMG Review

To the Golf R, Astra OPC & Focus ST, notice is served. There is a new kid on the block, with serious firepower – it’s Rocket Raccoon!

By Shahzad Sheikh

Mercedes A45 AMG review

Luxury cars like the fantastic new S-Class – that’s what Mercedes-Benz is best known for. Not hot-hatches, not road-going rally cars, not hooligan machines. So what’s this then? Well it looks like an A-Class – you know, the newish entry-level family-friendly small hatchback running around Europe fitted with thrifty diesel engines.

Well this is not quite that. It is lower, with massive 20-inch menacing black multi-spoke alloys, and red centre hubs and brake callipers. It has matte-silver stripes right across the top of it, an outrageous and most un-Mercedes-like spoiler on the rear roof, and aggressive air-intakes, slatted front splitter and – what are these?! – little winglets popping out the sides of the front bumper! It’s like the regular A-Class just got outfitted for a no-rules death race.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

Does it have a bite to match its bark?

Funny you should use the word ‘bark’ (okay, I do realise that I actually did that) because that’s exactly what it does do. Drive it in Sports mode and the induction bang, lift-off crackle and overrun pops cause cats to scurry for cover, little children to runaway crying for mummy, and grown men wishing they were rally drivers. That roarty exhaust is almost reason enough alone to buy this car, you keep the stereo down and execute unnecessary deceleration and full-bore upshifts, just to revel in the mechanical storm of sound left in your wake.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

And you won’t be hanging about, because this has not the 240bhp of the Ford Focus ST, nor the 280bhp for the Opel Astra OPC and Volkswagen Golf R, but a staggering 355bhp, extracted through use of potent high-pressure turbocharger (running a racecar-like 26psi boost) from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. This gives it a 0-100kph time of 4.6seconds and a top speed of 250kph.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

It’s fast on paper and it’s fast in real life. Having said that, the performance delivery isn’t quite as pulverising and shocking as I was expecting from something weighing just 1555kg. Peak torque is delivered at a lowly 2250rpm, so it’s not so much turbo lag, it’s more like it’s been deliberately tuned to squeeze out the torque in a linear controlled manner. Plus it’s hot out at the moment, which wouldn’t help the Turbo. And then there’s the effect of all-wheel drive.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

But does it handle?

There is grip from all four-wheels. Well it had to be, didn’t it? It would have been too much to ask a front-wheel drive car to handle this much juice no matter how clever a diff you could come up with, or you’d have to have electronic nannies so intrusive that there wouldn’t be any point to that power.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

The 7-speed DCT (dual clutch transmission) is effective and snappy, with great noises accompanying upshifts and downshifts in Sports mode (which is how you must drive it at all times, except when in Sharjah). The changes themselves are perhaps a little too smooth and could do with a more mechanical feel, but the sound effects compensate as you flip down the ratios having inevitably arrived at a corner far too fast.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

Fortunately the traction is fantastic, and if you can learn to trust that and the excellent chassis, even though you’re not entirely encouraged to do so by the somewhat lifeless if accurate, responsive and appealingly chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel, you’ll find you can go deep and hard. Probably harder than I dared, in fact, and get on the power earlier to squirt this thing out of the bends. It’s definitely a fun drive – it’s thrilling on the twisties and sensational in the city.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

What’s it like inside?

Well the boot’s a bit small and filled with space-save in this particular case (watch the video) and the rear room is about average for a family hatchback, though the convenience of the rear-doors is certainly handy. Seating and space up front is, of course, excellent. The dashboard and instrument panel is all new-Mercedes, so it’s stylish, intuitive and bang-up-to date.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

I can’t quite come to terms with the ‘floating’ infotainment screen – it seems to me that it should DO something like slide or flip away into a slot somewhere, but it doesn’t. Anyway, that aside, the tight body-hugging front seats with the adjustable side bolsters look and feel fantastic, the red-trimming on this Edition one is perfectly in keeping with the loud-mouth hot-hatch persona, the red-rimmed vents are lovely and the carbon-effect dash is luxuriously soft-touch.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

It’s got full Bluetoothability, though the stereo was a bit of a letdown after the magnificence of the Burmester in the Mercedes S-Class, but with that highly entertaining exhaust providing all the aural delights you’d need, it’s not really a deal-breaker.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

Verdict

This is the automotive equivalent of Rocket Racoon from the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It may be small, but it can look mean, menacing yet appealing; it’s got a penchant for power and is not afraid to deploy it effectively; it has a few tricks up its sleeve and you underestimate it at your peril. Having said that, it’ll grumpily concede to having a heart of gold that’s firmly set in the right place and it will serve as a faithful and dependable companion that will do whatever it can to look after you.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

Would I have one? My favourite hot hatch remains the incredible value Ford Focus ST, but if that car is the most power for your Dirham (alongside the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1) that you can currently get, the A45 AMG is the most power from a 2.0 motor out there – it’s astonishingly actually.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

Ultimately I’d find it hard to justify that AED206k ($56k) asking price, but I did end up really liking this car and looking past its few shortcomings – the fact is that it was able to put a grin on my face, I constantly looked for excuses to drive it, and that I would turn back for a final glance after parking it up, confirmed its place in my affections. For a marque not know for this kind of car, this is an amazing first effort, and it is certainly my second favourite hot hatch on the market.

Mercedes A45 AMG review

2014 Mercedes A45 AMG Review – The Specs

Price: AED206,500 ($56,200)
Engine: 2.0-litre Turbocharged 4-cylinder, 355bhp @ 6000rpm, 332lb ft @ 2250rpm
Transmission: 7-speed DCT automatic, All-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 7.0L/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 4.6 seconds, Top speed 270kph
Weight: 1555kg

Now tell us below which hot-hatch you would buy?

3 responses to “2013 Mercedes A45 AMG Review”

  1. Tam says:

    cool review and i honestly expected it to be more expensive that that,
    the video says it has 19 inches wheel where the article mentioned it is 20 so which one ?

  2. Ernest Thokozani Mgidi says:

    I’m so in love with Mercedes, it keep blessing me when I see it.. A45 AMG its the reason I school again.. I so wish to own it… The are two car’s in this world Mercedes and others… Its either the best or nothing…

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