Mercedes-AMG A45 - the most powerful production hot hatch
375bhp hatch tops Audi RS3 and Ford Focus RS
Mercedes-AMG has released details of its new A45, confirming that the revised car’s turbocharged 2-litre, four-cylinder engine produces a substantial 375bhp and 350lb ft of torque. This tops rivals like the 362bhp Audi RS3 and forthcoming 345bhp Ford Focus RS, meaning Mercedes-AMG can, for the time being, claim the title of manufacturer of the most powerful production hot hatch.
Power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch Speedshift gearbox to all four-wheels, enabling the A45 to accelerate from 0-62mph in a claimed 4.2sec, four-tenths faster than its predecessor. Mercedes says that in-gear acceleration is also faster than before, thanks to closer ratios in third to seventh gears. As is the case with most German performance cars, top speed is limited to 155mph.
The new car comes with AMG’s optional Dynamic Plus pack, which adds a mechanical front locking-differential and AMG Ride Control. This comprises sports suspension with two-stage adaptive damping, which works automatically to control body roll, and can be adjusted through two stages – Normal and Sport.
The AMG also receives five Dynamic Select driving modes, which adjust factors like throttle response, steering weight and damping settings. The modes cycle through Comfort, Eco, Sport Individual and Race, with the last setting developed for track use.
Mercedes says that in Race mode, the car’s gearbox offers faster shifts and hangs onto gears for longer in automatic mode, while the ESP slackens its reins a little to allow ‘wider drift angles’.
Those ‘wider drift angles’ should go nicely with the car’s boisterous bodywork, which appears largely unchanged from the old car. Only a few small adjustments have been made, including a new front skirt and LED headlights.
The interior is also very similar to the outgoing model, with a familiar AMG flat-bottomed steering wheel and sports seats making a welcome return; the oddly placed infotainment screen (which still looks like an aftermarket add-on) is not so welcome.
Of course, the AMG A45 arrives as the fastest model in the wider 2015 A-Class range. Non-performance models receive similar upgrades to the A45, including optional Dynamic Select adjustable suspension (without a Race mode), and Apple CarPlay/MirrorLink connectivity is available across the lineup.
A wider selection of engines is also now on offer, including three diesel engines – A 180d, A 200d and A 220d - that produce between 107bhp and 174bhp, and three petrol engines – A 180, A 200, A 250 – that produce between 121bhp and 215bhp. Both front- and four-wheel drive layouts are available.
New for the 2015 A-Class is a Motorsport Edition. Fitted with AMG bodywork and wearing petrol green body details (the colour of Petronas, Mercedes’ F1 partner), the Motorsport Edition comes available with a choice of engines from the A 220d upwards, but sadly not with the A45’s turbocharged 2-litre.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we expect the AMG A45 to be priced similarly to the outgoing model – which started at £38,195. The rest of the A-Class range will likely start from about £21,000. Order books open on 3 July, with first UK deliveries expected in September.