Mercedes AMG A45 review
The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S has a stonking 421hp engine and a drift mode that’ll put a smile on your face. That said, its hefty price tag might just wipe it back off again.
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How times change. Back in the early 1980s, and the birth of the hot hatch, everyone was wowed by power figures of, oooh, 115bhp? Then things jumped to the heights of 156bhp with the Vauxhall Astra GTE 16v. And now we have a Mercedes-AMG A45 S with 421hp and all-wheel-drive, which will do 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds. Supercars of the olden days wouldn’t see which way it went. Wow.
Mind you, it isn’t the only crazy-fast five-door – there’s also the Audi RS3 to ponder. Oh, and the BMW M2 CS is also breathing down the A45’s neck.
Unlike mainland Europe, in the UK we don’t get the semi-skimmed standard A 45, just the full-fat S model. Unlike its lesser stablemate, the A35, the A45 S gets Mercedes-AMG’s proper vertical-stripe grille from the range-topping GT, as well as aggressive front air intakes and prominent splitter. At the sides, you’ll find flared sills and 19-inch alloys, while around the back is a roof spoiler (which can be made even bigger as an option), a similarly striking rear bumper and quad exhausts. But – confession time – those exhausts are actually fake, and so are the rear air vents. Grrr.
Still, the A45’s interior is gorgeously classy. Its infotainment system comes with an equally easy-on-the-eye Times Square billboard of information behind the steering wheel. This consists of two screens, one for the driver’s digital dials with bespoke AMG design and one for the sat-nav and media info that can be operated by touch. You also have a touchpad and shortcut buttons between the front seats and a multi-function steering wheel, making it almost as easy to operate as BMW’s iDrive. Happily, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all come as standard.
This new Mercedes-AMG A 45 doesn’t sound quite as good as its predecessor, but in pretty much every other way it’s a huge step on.
There’s also plenty of space inside, with loads of room for a couple of adults in the front, as well as super-supportive front sports seats and loads of adjustment at both the seat and steering wheel for the driver. In the back, there’s decent space for a further couple of adults, although you’ll struggle to fit three across its back seats in comfort for longer journeys. Still, at least the A45’s boot is a good size at 370 litres, which is easily enough for a couple of large suitcases plus some soft bags. It’s on a par with an Audi RS3’s, too.
The engine producing all that power is a snarling turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, while all A 45s get a snappy dual-clutch eight-speed automatic gearbox and a super-grippy all-wheel drive system as standard. Together with its communicative steering, the A45 is superb at clinging on around corners at like a dog to its favourite bit of rope, although if you do want it to be more playful, its standard-fitDrift Mode and rear sport differential will ensure things get tail-happy.
The only black mark is that alternatives like the rear-drive BMW M2 don’t need a Drift Mode to feel more playful more of the time, and the A 45 S doesn’t sound quite as raucous at its exhaust tips as its less powerful predecessor. Weird.
Still, slightly muted noise aside, the new Mercedes-AMG A 45 S is an absolute riot. It’s hugely fast across-country, yet fun when you want to be and has a high-quality interior with a great infotainment system. However, it isn’t cheap, so head to our deals pages to see how much you can save.