Mercedes-AMG A 45 hatchback
"Incredible power sets the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S apart but its price tag is almost as breathtaking"
- Amazing engine
- Clever four-wheel-drive
- Easy to drive
- Light steering
- High running costs
There's something of a battle going on between manufacturers to see who can produce the most powerful hot hatchback, and the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S currently wears the crown. With an incredible 415bhp from its 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, it leaves the 395bhp Audi RS3 Sportback firmly in the shade, in what could be a heroic final fling for conventionally-powered performance hatchbacks before they start using emissions-reducing hybrid and electric powertrains.
Based on the standard A-Class, a model that comes with as little as 114bhp, the A 45 S has been fitted with metal bracing to stiffen up its chassis, wings, spoilers, sticky tyres and Mercedes’ 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system that can shuffle power both rearwards and from side helping the car to slingshot through corners at high speed.
Launching from 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and on to an astonishing top speed of 168mph, the A 45 S is fast enough to embarrass a number of sports cars in a straight line, outpacing both the Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. Its sports exhaust also provides a thrilling noise, too, emitting cracks and bangs as the dual-clutch automatic gearbox rapidly changes shifts between eight gears.
The car’s impressive performance figures are not the only surprise; for such a highly tuned and focused machine, the A 45 S is well mannered during normal driving - an area in which the old A 45 fell short. This is thanks to a clever new suspension setup, which not only makes it more comfortable to live with, but also makes it far more capable and easy to drive on winding B-roads.
If the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S has one big issue, it's how much it costs. With a price tag of around £50,000 before options, it’s one of the most expensive family hatchbacks you can buy. Even with its class-leading high-tech interior and headline power figure, it remains to be seen if this hot hatchback can convince potential buyers of the Honda Civic Type R and Renault Megane RS that the extra performance on offer is worth the substantial price premium. Much will depend on the monthly PCP deals Mercedes offers.