Verdict – A mind-bogglingly fast car with the ability to blow away all its competition in terms of outright performance. Don’t expect this to be the ultimate driving experience though. 4/5
I remember being a very young boy. I miss it a lot. I miss the freedom where whatever you did, it didn’t matter because you were young and that was the reason you peed on a radiator. You had no competition to worry about at all, no fashion to follow, no worrying about being cool or trendy (I don’t anyway) but you get my point. You didn’t have to follow the leader.
This brings me on rather nicely to the Mercedes A-Class. Up until last year it was a very odd creature with no real competition. Mercedes wanted you to see it as their run-of-the-mill hatchback but it was too wrong, too leftfield. And being leftfield in the classic hatchback war is a big no-no, aren’t I right Mr Golf? Well after a good 15 years, Mercedes might have understood that having a hatch on stilts and therefore worse looks, worse performance, worse economy and worse desirability wasn’t really doing the trick. And so last year, they revealed something brand new and yet instantly recognisable. The A-Class was re-born – but as a proper Golf/A3/Leon contender.
|New chin and lights help to give the AMG angry look|
For sure, I could be telling you about the clean diesels and how you can have the nose in several styles, but that is boring jib jab. It might interest people who want to buy the thing, but nobody else. So I decided to cure that problem by test driving the daddy of them all. The AMG A45.
This is a very bold move. Not only is this AMG’s first hot hatch, it’s the first 4-cylinder car to proudly sport the three magic letters. With the help of turbo power, this things chucks out 354bhp. From just 2 litres of displacement. Torque is there too; 332lb ft of it from a usefully low 2250rpm. From these figures, it achieves the highest power density of any production engine – 178bhp per litre. What AMG does keep more quiet about though is its ability to return over 40mpg on the combined cycle. Wow. I don’t think AMG have to worry about their first 4-cylinder engine being weedy.
And it’s not all just stuff on paper either; this thing puts its power down via all four wheels through a 7-speed double clutch gearbox. For efficiency reasons, the A45 is just 2wd when not being pushed to the raggedy edge. It also has new anti-roll bars and some clever electrics to help keep the world’s most powerful front wheel drive car on the planet (the 276bhp Astra VXR) well and truly in your mirrors. For instance, it will detect slip and as soon as it does a clutch in the rear axle activates and brings the 4wd into play. This system is so sophisticated though; you never notice any torque steer so it’s quick to react and even being a loon through the corners doesn’t upset its balance.
|It's the real deal inside|
As a result, this is a car that will just grip and grip and grip. It is widely speculated that this is the fastest AMG on a country road thanks to its electronic trickery and it is easy to see why. This thing is resistant to understeer almost totally but the flipside is the electronic steering; not much in the way of pure feel here I’m afraid. However, AMG have tried to fiddle by introducing extra weight and accuracy. It certainly helps, but you’ll always know that this is an electronic system.
You might be thinking to yourself; “What about the AMG soundtrack?” Well it’s good and bad news here. Good? Well, you can specify a £510 performance exhaust that makes this beast pop and rasp. What’s bad however is that all these noises come in a synthesised form straight from the exhaust and not from the engine like the V8’s. This however cannot be helped and therefore it is vital you splash out for that exhaust, otherwise you’ll have a car with a bit of pace; not a car you can enjoy.
But my goodness, what a bit of pace you’ll have. You will see the needle hit 60 in just 4.6 seconds. Do you want me to repeat that for you? You will see the needle hit 60 in just 4.6 seconds. This means though you won’t outrun supercars on the drag strip, you will give them a hell of a challenge through sweeping country roads, thanks to the clever 4wd trickery.
So, would you trade a bit of feel and reality for some neck snapping speeds? Tough choice, but AMG’s first ever 4 cylinder car hasn’t failed to impress.
Mercedes A45 AMG Reviewed by Jack Cooper on 13:06 Rating: