Accelerate

SA's premium automotive magazine

Merc readies world’s hottest hatch

1502 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG 1

Usually a story like this would include the words ‘claimed’, ‘supposedly’ or the like. However, this one’s a little different, because the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG will be the world’s most powerful production hot hatch ever built. Fact.

Not only is the A45 AMG set to be the world’s hottest hatch, though, it’s also Merc’s first attempt at a hot hatch. And what a first attempt it is. A rival for the BMW M135i and the Audi RS3, this is the first time AMG has been involved in a car smaller than the C-Class, and it will be significantly cheaper than that car, making AMG a much more accessible brand.

In another first for AMG, the A45 makes use of a four-cylinder motor, a turbo unit with the highest specific output of any 2,0-litre fitted to a production car. With a displacement of 1991 cm3, it produces no less than 265 kW at 6 000 r/min and 450 Nm between 2 750 and 5 000 r/min. The all-aluminium engine is a bespoke unit for the A45, but in time it will also be used in the CLA45.

The high specific output is achieved thanks to high cylinder pressures and advanced direct injection, which, incidentally, also helps the engine to be more efficient. In fact, fuel consumption of 8,3 l/100 km and emissions of 161 g/km of CO2. This is helped by the car’s stop/start system. But don’t think the focus on efficiency has in any way taken away from the A45’s performance. It’ll still get to 100 km/h in a mere 4,6 seconds, with top speed limited to 250 km/h.

What’s more, instead of making use of the standard A-Class’ front-wheel-drive layout, Mercedes decided early in the car’s development that it needed to be all-wheel drive. The AMG-tweaked 4Matic system partners with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to get all the grunt down, with power capable of being split equally between the axles. Like other Mercs, the transmission has three modes, namely Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Manual – oh, and the ESP can function in a Sport mode or be switched off altogether.

Of course, with such power on offer, the brakes need to be up to scratch, and that they are. Drilled discs 350 mm in diameter take care of things up front, while the rear drilled discs being 330 mm in diameter. The steering has been upgraded and the suspension has been dramatically retuned, with lower, tauter springs and dampers and firmer bushings.

Aside from the mechanical upgrades, the A45 AMG is clearly visually distinguishable from the rest of the A-Class pack. A front splitter and AMG grille finished in matte grey immediately set it apart, as do the gloss black air intakes, sideskirts and wing mirrors. On top of that, the A45 rides on 18-inch alloys wrapped in 235/40R18 rubber.

Inside, you get AMG seats and a different AMG instrument cluster, red stitching and red seatbelts. There are, though, still optional upgrades you can make to the A45, including a carbon fibre package, which replaces the front splitter, sideskirt inserts and rear bumper trim with carbon fibre, while you can also go for 19-inch alloys and red brake calipers.

The public début of the A45 AMG will take place at the Geneva Motor Show next month. It will hit showroom floors overseas as early as July.

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