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Mercedes-AMG A45 S 2020 review: family test

Can the hottest hot hatch make it as a family car?

For those parents looking for their next family hauler,  allow me to throw a little wild card on the table. And I do mean 'little'.

Enter the Mercedes AMG A 45 S 4Matic+ 2020, a screaming-hot hatch that can clip 100km/h in under four seconds, and thus provides the perfect performance antidote to your plodding family SUV.

My three kids and I had the A 45 S for a week to test its performance as a family hauler, and to see if it's as fun as it looks. 

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✅ What does it look like?

While at first glance, this new A 45 seems to favour a more toned-down look than the previous-generation vehicle, it also offers enough exterior trimmings to showcase its performance intent. This A 45 definitely strikes a better balance between boy racer and sophisticated driving machine - performance looks without the superfluous flashy bits. 

Upon closer inspection, there are plenty of performance-inspired design cues, with a menacing-looking front end and those 19-inch matt-black alloy wheels shod with Michelin tyres. Sitting over large red brake calipers, these wheels look the absolute business.

At first glance, this new A 45 seems to favour a more toned-down look than the previous-generation vehicle. At first glance, this new A 45 seems to favour a more toned-down look than the previous-generation vehicle.

The beefed-up rear end features a modestly styled spoiler located high above a not-so-subtle set of exhaust pipes sitting either side of a sizeable diffuser.

Inside the cabin, the styling of our test car favoured a less-subtle look, with my kids and I greeted by red and black ‘Lugano’ leather upholstery across the seats and doors. Elsewhere, there is brush aluminium trim peppered throughout in addition to smart set of metal-trimmed pedals. The microfibre-clad AMG steering wheel looked and felt the part, too.

Inside there are red and black leather upholstery plus brush aluminium trim. Inside there are red and black leather upholstery plus brush aluminium trim.

✅ How does it drive?

Before covering off how this hot hatch handles the daily grind of suburban life, let's start with a few key stats. Sitting underneath the bonnet lies a potent turbo four-cylinder engine with the power (310kW/500Nm) to propel this pint-sized missile from zero to 100km/h in 3.9secs.

That thumping engine is matched to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Impressive numbers for a four-cylinder engine, and enough to mark the new A 45 as a king among hot hatches in Australia.

The 2.0-litre turbo engine makes 310kW/500Nm. The 2.0-litre turbo engine makes 310kW/500Nm.

As this is a family review, it’s worth mentioning that our experience of the A 45 S was predominantly on city and suburban streets, which is obviously not this car’s strong suit. Rather, the A 45 is best experienced being thrown around some twisty back roads, what with its superglue handling and effortless power.

Around town in Comfort mode, this A 45 S was firm bordering on harsh, particularly over some of the usual potholes and speed bumps. However, all is quickly forgiven once you experience this car’s acceleration, which even in Comfort mode, arrives at light speed.

The response elicited by a purposeful prod from the right foot requires your full and undivided attention. If this thing doesn’t put a massive smile on your face, nothing will.

✅ How spacious is it?

The A 45 S is a hatch back measuring 4445mm in length, 1850mm in width and 1412mm in height, which translates into a relatively modest amount of cabin space.

Front seat passengers are provided with ample head and legroom, but there is more of a squeeze in the backseat for taller humans. For my kids, who are 11, 11 and 13, it was adequate and elicited no complaints.

Front seat passengers are provided with ample head and legroom. Front seat passengers are provided with ample head and legroom.

Boot space, at 370 litres, is enough for the weekly grocery shop and not much more. The low lip and wide opening certainly help with loading and unloading items. Should you need more space, the 40/20/40 rear seats fold down to provide a cargo area of 1210 litres.

  • Boot space is rated at 370 litres. Boot space is rated at 370 litres.
  • The low lip and wide opening certainly help with loading and unloading items. The low lip and wide opening certainly help with loading and unloading items.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The A 45 S presents an entirely viable option as a daily driver, with the one exception being the ride. While the suspension set up was exceptional for allowing it stick like glue to corners at speed, it made for a rather spine rattling drive around the city and 'burbs. That aside, though,  the A 45 S has plenty of creature comforts to keep everyone happy.

My kids in the backseat made good use of the two cupholders in the rear centre fold-down armrest, along with the small door pockets, air vents and two USB ports.

The backseats are a bit of a squeeze for taller people. The backseats are a bit of a squeeze for taller people.

Up front, there are another two cupholders, giant door pockets, a big split-opening centre console bin and a tray for the wireless phone charger.

The A 45 S is fun and easy to navigate around town, with its hatchback size making it ideal for fitting into smaller parking spaces around the city, with a suite of parking aids on hand, including auto parking, to help.  

✅ How safe is it?

As you’d expect, the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S comes with an impressive list of safety equipment - earning it the maximum five-star score when it was tested by ANCAP in 2018.

The advanced safety tech includes AEB with cross-traffic function, blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance, lane change assistance, auto parking and adaptive cruise control. Added to this list are nine airbags and a 360-degree camera.

For parents ferrying infants or small children in capsules or car seats, there are three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row to secure them.

✅ What’s the tech like?

The large flatscreen display of two 10.25-inch screens, one for the digital instrument cluster and another for the media system, is a standout feature in this car.

Behind the steering wheel is a one of two 10.25-inch screens. Behind the steering wheel is a one of two 10.25-inch screens.

From the media screen drivers can access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and control the sat nav, Burmester stereo, digital radio and the voice activated 'Mercedes Me' assistant.

Other tech touches include wireless phone charging, power adjustable and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting and a proximity key.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+ lists for $93,600, with the Mountain Grey Metallic paint our test car came in adding another $1190.

Standard exterior features for the list price include the 19-inch matt black alloy wheels, quad exhaust tips and a hefty diffuser. There's the Panamericana grille and AMG front apron, the red brake callipers, small roof-top spoiler, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof and privacy rear glass, too.

The A 45 S wears 19-inch matt-black alloy wheels. The A 45 S wears 19-inch matt-black alloy wheels.

Inside, there’s the sport seats and two-tone leather upholstery, and the AMG Performance steering wheel clad in 'Dinamica' microfibre.

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+ is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.


The Wrap

The A 45 S 4Matic+ is dripping with premium features, safety tech and red hot performance any time you’re ready to stretch its legs. An incredibly well put together car that is thoroughly entertaining to drive. Great fun for all the family. 

Likes

Rapid-fire acceleration
Handling
Everyday practicality

Dislikes

Ride a little too firm
A squeeze in backseat for adults
Not quite practical enough for bigger families

Scores

Dan:

4.2

The Kids:

4

$94,900

Based on new car retail price

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