OFFICIAL: MERCEDES A45 AMG
360hp, four-wheel drive, four-cylinder engine - how many sacred cows can AMG hit with one shot?
Well, as of today we know a lot more about it. Like that its 360hp 2.0-litre makes it the most powerful series production four-cylinder in the world. One that'll go more than 10 miles without needing a service, before any FQ400 owners pipe up. No Evo ever managed 40.9mpg either, which is what AMG is claiming for the A45. CO2 is a trifling 165g/km too.
But you're probably less interested in that than how the essential AMG character manages to survive a halving of the typical cylinder count, drive predominantly to the front wheels and being closely based on a glorified hatchback.
Haldex-style four-wheel drive though? Yes, power goes to the front wheels most of the time. But as much as half can be transferred to the rear via an automated clutch in the rear differential - placed there to shift a bit of weight backwards in the powertrain. AMG claims the 'always on' pump is an improvement over rival systems and allows a near-instantaneous response, the variable drive torque apportioned by sensors monitoring steering angle, wheel slip, throttle position and more. Not long ago tech like this was the preserve of Skylines and other exotica - now it's available on a family hatch.
At which point the BMW M 135i raises its head. Which it manages to do in pretty much every story written about cars in the sub-£40K price bracket since it burst on the scene, and not without reason. That is still available as a manual and rear-wheel drive of course, if not as fast on-paper as the AMG - despite an identical torque fibure, the BMW's 40hp down. It looks like it'll have a headline-grabbing price advantage, though, will probably more than offset this in many eyes, so the A45 is going to have to do something pretty special to beat it. And if the whole hatchback thing doesn't do it for you bear in mind there'll be a CLA version too at some point.
Chassis and brakes have also been AMG'd, though anyone who's experienced the uncompromising shake, rattle and roll of the regular A-Class may shudder further at phrases like 'stiffer', 'more precise and direct feedback' and 'more rigid' that pepper the press release.
So, a big step for AMG and one that stretches the brand's DNA thinner than ever. There's certainly lots of on-paper bluster but the proof will be in the driving and we look forward to telling you more about that after the A45's Geneva debut. Hopefully we'll also have an idea of what it'll cost too.