Mercedes-AMG A 45 hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S is massively powerful and has a clever four-wheel-drive system

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

It's impossible to discuss the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S without starting with the engine. Somehow, AMG's engineers have managed to squeeze a massive 415bhp out of a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making it the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever produced. It’s also the hottest hatchback ever created, with a rapid 0-62mph-time of 3.9 seconds putting it ahead of a number of far more expensive sports and supercars.

Unlike a highly strung racing car or a production car that’s been modified by aftermarket tuners, the A 45 S is happy being driven smoothly and easily around town and on long motorway schleps. In keeping with this surprisingly easy going demeanour, its suspension also feels far smoother and more forgiving than in the older model. Accelerate hard, though, and the car shows a totally different character as the new sports exhaust barks and bangs, the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic fires through gears and the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system claws at the tarmac.

The latter is a more advanced system that can now not only send 50% of the engine's power to the back wheels, but also shuffle it across the rear axle to boost agility and offer a 'Drift mode'. Drive the A 45 S hard and wheel spin is almost non-existent, and you can feel the car constantly juggling power to the wheel with most grip. If there is one weaker element, it’s the steering, which is a little too light, lacking the weight of the steering in the Ford Focus ST, for example. While it is accurate, and allows for quick cornering and changes of direction, it forces the driver to have faith in the car’s immense four-wheel drive grip instead of feeling it.

In terms of sheer performance, the AMG A 45 S undoubtedly shifts the hot hatch goalposts but it also raises another question; is the amount of fun to be had in a hot hatchback directly and inextricably linked to how much power it has? One answer, is that the cheaper, less powerful Honda Civic Type R is just as good - and arguably more fun - to drive at the limit, even if it isn't as quick from A to B.

Recommended

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks

Most Popular

New 2022 Toyota RAV4 Adventure revealed
Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Toyota RAV4
14 Sep 2021

New 2022 Toyota RAV4 Adventure revealed

Best new car deals 2021
Hyundai Tucson SUV front 3/4 tracking
Deals
10 Sep 2021

Best new car deals 2021

PCP deals explained – what is PCP finance?
Car dealer and customer talking
Car finance
8 Sep 2021

PCP deals explained – what is PCP finance?

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks