We are totally smitten by this car on a whole range of fronts, not just performance and handling at which it excels. The Mercedes-Benz A45AMG promises much and delivers more at a price that makes it the best value hyper-performance car on the road right now let alone the hottest hot hatch.
The $74,900 ask might seem like a lot but is around the same as some V8 dinosaur from HSV or FPV and believe me, the Benz is a whole lot more car that even sounds better and... it's a four banger. Better yet, the engine/transmission is hand-made painstakingly by a German technician locked away in a sterile engine facility somewhere in Bavaria.
Benz obviously let AMG go to town on the 45 because their hand is obvious throughout -- the suspension, large C63AMG brakes, razor sharp steering, aero body parts, transmission, all-wheel drive system and the engine.
Engine / transmission
It's a 2.0-litre, direct injection petrol unit with variable cam timing and lift, a twin-scroll turbo pumping at a maximum of 1.8bar -- about 24psi, to create the most powerful production four cylinder in the world right now rated at 265kW/450Nm. That's an astonishing 133kW per litre. Part of the secret here is high pressure turbo boost and fine control of the fuel injection and ignition through multiple delivery systems -- multi hole injectors and multiple spark plugs.
A 0-100kmh sprint takes around 4.5 seconds. It comes as a surprise that this powerplant passes EU6 emissions regulations and can sip premium fuel at a low 6.9-litres/100km using the Eco stop/start system.
The engine rests transversely across the engine bay with a dual clutch, seven-speed, three-mode, AMG Speedshift transmission feeding power to the front wheels initially -- and up to 50:50 front to rear as required. Torque vectoring also plays a role in the whole traction equation.
Plenty of kit is crammed into the sharp edged body including fully electrically adjustable sports seats, driver assistance functions, premium audio with Bluetooth phone and audio along with voice control, internet connection, distronic (radar) cruise with brake function, multi function sports wheel, shift paddles, carbon-look dash, highlight stitching to the leather upholstery and on the dash, climate control -- get the picture. A number of option packs are available.
You don't think a four-pot could sound or go better than a blatting V8 -- think again, because this nasty little five-door hatch has a whip-cracking, pyrotechnic 'bang' with every upchange in Sport and Manual drive mode. It is one of the most distinctive and arresting (literally) sounds you'll hear from a road car coupled with the already throaty growl from the large twin exhaust outlets.
The drive feel is sensational offering razor sharp dynamics and impressive cornering along with the capability to eat kilometres though the ride is firm and can become tiring after a few hours. We tried the race start numerous times and ran the 1480kg A45 mostly in Sport mode to hear that stupendous exhaust noise.
It's a five star ANCAP car with all that entails and more with the facility to set up many functions to your own preference. Some selections are held, others default to standard setting after switching off the engine.
We even like the looks of it particularly the 19-inch wheels and twin wing grille though the dot grille would be better and we'd get the roof mounted rear wing too. If we could, we'd lose the sunroof, cut the price.