Cars Mercedes-AMG A45 (2017) review

16:30  19 april  2017
16:30  19 april  2017 Source:   CAR

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Mercedes-AMG A45 (2017) review © Bauer Media 2017 Mercedes-AMG A45 (2017) review

In 2018 Mercedes will launch an all-new compact car platform to underpin the next A-Class, meaning the current version – which has sold strongly since its launch in 2012 – is on the way out.

That also means replacement time for the Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic – the car that set the hot hatch horsepower bar, with its heavily boosted 2.0-litre motor producing prodigious power for a production four-pot. No other on sale offers as much horsepower per litre.

Given the opportunity to take one final drive in the A45, we travelled to Hungary to hit road and track. Has evolution been kind to this £50k rival to the Audi RS3 and BMW M2?

Mercedes: Sandbagging or struggling in Sochi?

  Mercedes: Sandbagging or struggling in Sochi? Ferrari looks like it will have the upper hand in qualifying after topping the first two practice sessions, but Sebastian Vettel believes the gap back to Mercedes is “artificial”. Sochi is expected to be the first real chance to see just how Ferrari and Mercedes compare. According to FP2 timings, Mercedes is more than half a second adrift from the Italian team. But Vettel believes the reigning constructors’ champion was sandbagging. “It’s a circuit that suits them so they will be strong tomorrow,” Vettel told Autosport. “Last year, people expected Williams to be fastest after Friday, if I remember right, and it turned out Mercedes was the fastest. “That’s how sometimes you can be misled and I think there’s a lot of things we can play within the car: fuel loads, engine modes… “This looks like a Mercedes track. For sure, they didn’t show everything today, and they didn’t get a lap together, so the gap you see is artificial.” The comments are similar to those made before Australia, when Ferrari and Mercedes both insisted the other were favourites. And, like preseason, Toto Wolff believes Ferrari had the better car. Wolff claimed Mercedes struggled in the conditions in Sochi. Ferrari’s ability to run in a wide range of conditions gives the Italian team the advantage. “You could see you needed a couple of laps to put the tyre in the window, and you needed to have clean laps, then it’s easier,” he said.

One of the fastest hot hatchbacks in the world. Introduction. It has a hugely potent 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that drives all four wheels through a dual-clutch gearbox, making for a specification that’s dedicated solely to going quickly in all conditions.

The new Mercedes - AMG A 45 extends its ground-breaking paradigms with an emphatic injection of “more”: More Aggressive Styling. © 2017 MERCEDES - AMG . Provider.

Turning on the charm

In Race Red with optional aero kit (carbon here, air-carving winglet there), combined with Mercedes’ already angular, aggressive styling language, the A45 looks plain angry. And that’s before you’ve prodded the engine-start mushroomoid.

Equipped with the sports exhaust (an absolute essential AMG upgrade), that four-banger barks into life with a purposeful rev blip before settling into a steady quad-cylinder simmer.

Immediately apparent is the higher-than-ideal driving position – it’s not as pronounced as that in the Ford Focus RS, but you certainly feel noticeably closer to the sky than in a BMW M2. Our car’s lack of glass roof (available as an optional extra) doesn’t help here, making the cabin feel all the more cramped, but we hope it’ll pay dividends in the handling stakes later on in our adventure.

Vettel left feeling 'down' by qualifying outcome

  Vettel left feeling 'down' by qualifying outcome After being outperformed by Mercedes in qualifying for the Bahrain GP, Sebastian Vettel struggled to explain where Ferrari lost time.Ferrari had been tipped as the team to beat in the desert this weekend and outperformed Mercedes in the race simulations, while Vettel was top of both practice sessions on Friday.

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Read the definitive Mercedes -Benz A Class 2017 review from the expert What Car? team. Check specs, prices, performance and compare with similar cars. The Mercedes A 45 AMG brings a whole new level of mad to the hot hatch concept.

The seats themselves are brilliant, however. They’re a snug fit and have enough adjustment (via neat-looking controls on the doors) to find an ideal driving position in seconds.

Nosing the 45 out of its space in its default Comfort mode we found the throttle response well-judged for lower-speed driving, and the softened suspension gait it carries in this configuration is a must for speed bumps.

Sharpening the A45’s claws

As soon as we could, of course, Sport mode was engaged using the rotary control behind the AMG-logo’d gear selector. The exhaust tone deepens further, the steering gets heavier, and with the engine’s vital temperatures showing warm on the bespoke AMG menu on the trip computer, the first sweeping bend leading to a motorway slip road offered a chance to really get the hammer down.

Turn in, balance the car and apply much throttle, and the A45 shoots rapidly up to Hungary’s 81mph speed limit without much in the way of fanfare. A damp squib? It’s going to take more provocation than that to get under this AMG’s skin.

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After 500 metres or so in Sport mode the dial was turned back down to Comfort – there’s a knobbly resonance that infects the entire cabin otherwise. The car just won’t settle down on its adaptive dampers on the motorway and it gets tedious very quickly.

Ideally we’d spend time configuring the Individual driving mode precisely for such situations, because you’ll most likely want the engine noise and steering heft without the fidgeting chassis.

Destination Hungaroring

Anyway, where’s the fun in staying on the highway? We were aiming for Hungary’s national race track, the Hungaroring, where Lewis and Nico scored a 1-2 in 2016. Time to head cross-country. Leaving the exit ramp the rotary dial was turned again, this time to Sport+.

We found a set of incredible bends, allowing the A45 to settle into a rhythm. Its suspension shone here, allowing a predictability to the handling that lets you concentrate on your driving inputs. It’s firm, but not so much that it jars.

It’s also here that we began to appreciate the sports diff on the front axle. Available following the A45’s facelift in 2015, it’s had a dramatic effect on turn-in and mid-corner traction. There’s still less communication about under-tyre events than we’d like through the steering wheel, but then this is predominantly a front-driven platform with added all-wheel drive, so there’s a lot going on down there.

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That same update in 2015 also ushered in shorter gear ratios to replace the previous meant-for-a-diesel ones, which come into their own on this back-road. Sharp, loud cracks punctuate every cogswap. The neighbours must hate us.

Our biggest issue with the A-Class is…

The sad-looking dash-mounted screen’s positioning. If something has to look like a removable tablet then at least have the good grace to make it removable.

Instead it’s fixed, somewhat precariously it feels, and doesn’t integrate with the cabin’s design. Compared with the Audi A3’s neat folding solution, it’s a blot on the copybook that afflicts all A-Classes. In fact the entire cabin doesn’t really pass muster against the Audi.

Still, time for some circuit action. Lining up in the pitlane we grabbed a lid and climbed back aboard. The temperature was nearing 30 degrees now so the air-con was more than welcome, but these seats haven’t been designed for helmet-wearing trackdayers. Adjustment was required so our spine wasn’t completely C-shaped and we never really felt comfortable behind the wheel in the same way we did on the road.

Did that put a dampener on proceedings?

Not really. Once the seat had been tweaked for our larger cranium we headed out onto the track for a warm-up. Race mode sets all the driving controls to their most aggressive settings and dials back on the stability control a little, which has the effect of allowing you to tip-toe around the car’s limits without worrying about a spectacular backwards barrier entry.

Mercedes could throw Honda engine lifeline

  Mercedes could throw Honda engine lifeline After a lengthy period of struggling with their power unit, Honda could be receiving some help in the unlikely form of Mercedes. Having redesigned their entire power unit prior to the 2017 season in the hopes of getting on top of their previous issues, the Japanese manufacturer has since fallen back even further on the grid prompting scepticism and concern from McLaren and the media. It appears in recent weeks Honda has changed their internal mantra on their problems and could be allowing help from outside sources, this has prompted the discussion the Mercedes may help Honda in some way. Reports have indicated Mercedes has been approached by Honda, this would be to allow some consultancy with regards to their power unit in order to get on top of the issues that plague the efforts of the Japanese outfit. What also has not gone unnoticed is Mercedes AMG managing director of high-performance powertrains Andy Cowell, has been seen talking with high-profile members at McLaren adding fuel to the speculation. Honda Formula 1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa told “Actually we have been doing everything we can do. “We are utilising every source from outside. From the beginning of March, we are almost changing our organisation. I think it works better, but it was too late to modify our development [so far]… “Of course it is not easy because engine modifications take time which is an issue. We have seen some good elements, but still, the whole package is not ready.” Further reports have indicated that Red Bull could be opposed to this idea believing information so sensitive it’s almost equal to sharing a chassis, however, there is no regulation opposing such an idea should Mercedes and Honda agree to go ahead with a form of cooperation moving forward.

Mercedes AMG A 45 4Matic Location Surrey; Price £39,995; Engine 4cyls, 1991cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 376bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 350lb ft at 2250-5000rpm; Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch auto; Kerb weight 1555kg; Top speed 155mph Porsche Panamera hatchback 2017 review – Carbuyer.

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There is a titanic amount of grip on offer here. The 19-inch Dunlop Sport Maxx rubber coupled with 4Matic makes for neck-stretching cornering forces before traction is broken.

Unlike larger non-SUV AMGs like the C and E 63s, it’s only when the limits are exceeded that the fun begins the fade. Given a little too much enthusiasm for the front end to handle, there’s no rescuing the A45 from understeer with your right foot. There isn’t enough rear bias dialled in to rotate the rear to help out, so you’re stuck with tyre-torturing front-end wash until more grip becomes available.

There’s no hint of a powerslide unless you’re abusing the car, Scandi-flicking before each bend, and even then it won’t maintain a consistent slide.

We found the greatest enjoyment to be had by exploring just how early in bends you can get on the throttle, but beware: getting this wrong is not a good look as you clatter over exit kerbs. It’s fair to say this AMG is to be treated as a front-driven car first and foremost. 

On longer corners when fully committed there’s a decent amount of off-throttle adjustability, so if you’ve missed the clipping point then a brief lift will tighten your trajectory accordingly. The same method can help eradicate some understeer, albeit in a manner not quite as entertaining as painting your tyres across the asphalt.


It isn’t the cheapest hot hatch by some margin, and thanks to the Audi RS3’s five-cylinder motor’s extra headroom it isn’t the most powerful either. The BMW M2 is a better steer without a doubt too – especially on track – which leaves the A in automotive no-man’s-land.

However, its hard-as-nails styling and raucous performance do endear it as an everyday weapon, and we’ve no doubt on most B-roads it would be just as quick as the above protagonists. That’s why despite its price it’s been a success.

Bring on the next one.


Price: £41,830

Engine: 119cc I4 direct-inj turbo, 376bhp @ 6000rpm, 350lb ft @ 2250-5000rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed DCT auto, all-wheel drive

Performance: 4.2sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 38.7mpg, 171g/km CO2

Weight: 1480kg/steel

Dimensions: 4359/1780/1417

Hamilton: Mercedes not as quick as we need to be .
Lewis Hamilton has rebuffed Sebastian Vettel's claim that Mercedes are not showing their true speed - and insisted that it his championship rival who holds the real advantage heading into Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.Hamilton, who arrived in Sochi trailing the Ferrari driver by seven points in the title race, finished a distant fourth on Friday following an underwhelming day of practice.


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