The new Mercedes-AMG A 45 is here – and it's a quantum leap for hot hatches
Mercedes has just revealed the ultimate version of its new A-Class – the Mercedes-AMG A 45. And it’s set to make every other hot hatch look a little bit limp.
The main thing you need to know is its new 2.0-litre engine puts out 421hp and 500Nm (369 lb ft) of torque. That’s 20 horsepower more than the old BMW E39 M5 got from its V8, and exactly the same amount of torque.
This is a hot hatch with more firepower than an old M5. The world has finally gone mad.
That’s a simply astonishing amount of power from a 2.0-litre engine, and it’s enough to give the A 45 more grunt per litre than any other turbocharged production car, including the Ferrari 488 Pista.
So what does 210hp per litre of engine capacity get you?
It’ll get you and your new A 45 from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds. Which, weirdly, is about as quick as the old A45 was in the real world, and that’s with 45hp less – although the old car famously went faster than its claimed time. Perhaps Mercedes-AMG is being typically modest about its numbers, and a trip to the drag strip will show this new model to be a hot hatch that finally dips into the mid 3 seconds.
Before we get into all the details, you should also know that the A 45 has also been revealed in swoopy, coupe-ish CLA 45 form, and that both body styles are available in top-spec ‘S’ version, or a regular form that makes do with ‘just’ 386hp, smaller brakes, fewer driving modes and the nagging feeling that you’re a bit of a tight-arse.
Yes, it has a drift mode
The other top-line features of the new A 45 and CLA 45 include an eight-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox and an improved four-wheel-drive system that has a clutch on each rear driveshaft which – you guessed it – endows it with the slithery agility of a lubricated snake.
Oh, and there’s a drift mode.
Yep, a fair chunk of the A45’s press release mentions ‘oversteer’ and ‘emotive sliding’. To do so you’ll have to buy the S model so you have access to the ‘master’ driving mode, turn stability control off and stick the gearbox in full manual mode. We’ve seen A45 mules doing delicate little slides at the Nurburgring, and it looks like a wonderful way to get the nose turned into corners earlier. Or to show off to your mates before binning it, as happened just after the Focus RS launched and singularly failed to turn everyone into Kenneth Block.
Naturally the new A 45 comes with adaptive dampers so you can adjust the ride firmness to suit the fullness of your bladder, and there’s a new aluminium plate bolted under the engine to improve chassis rigidity – and you get a chassis cross brace between the front suspension turrets.
Should it look more exciting?
The A 45 gets a host of styling tweaks over its little brother, the A35. There’s a more aggressive bumper and diffuser as standard, but you can still pick an optional AMG aerodynamics pack as on the A 35. This adds the dive planes on the bumper, the bigger wing and an extra blade on the rear diffuser.
But we think the A 45 could have been a bit more muscular looking – and the CLA is certainly the more aggressive looking of the pair.
Traditionalists among you will rejoice in the return of round tail pipes, and at 82mm in diameter we don’t think anyone will be confusing your car with a humdrum 1.5-litre A-Class.
The engine is pretty clever
If you’re an engine nerd then you’ll love the A 45’s new lump. For a start, it’s an AMG, so naturally Mercedes is making it using the ‘one man, one engine’ principle – which sounds sexist, but does mean you’ll get the signature of your assembler sitting proudly on the engine cover.
Mercedes makes a big deal about the fact that this engine will be assembled on the first floor of their factory, which means that they’ll be extra fit from taking the stairs. Unless the Germans use the US form of first floor meaning ground floor, in which case that joke wouldn’t work.
The aluminium crankcase is chill-cast, which involves some clever people pouring molten aluminium into a water-cooled mould – this results in a denser aluminium structure and a stronger part as a result.
Not impressed? Well, the transversely mounted engine has been flipped 180 degrees from the A 35, which puts the intake side of the engine at the front and the turbos back behind the block for greater aerodynamic efficiency.
For maximum geek points you’ll want to know that the manifold and turbo housing both have separate internal channels so the pulsing gases from each cylinder don’t cause extra swirling in the flow of gas. Presumably this allows for extra fastness.
Finally, the A 45 gets a baffled sump so you should be able to take it on track and hold on to high cornering G without seeing an oil warning light followed by various expensive forged pieces of metal bouncing along the track behind you.
And that, pretty much, is that. We’re now in the era of hot hatches leaving the factory with 420hp. We’ve heard rumours that the next Golf R will – in some form – have 400hp, so the AMG won’t be able to rest on its laurels for long.
2020 should be quite the year for hot hatch hooning.