RE: 2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S | UK Review

RE: 2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S | UK Review

Tuesday 18th February

2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S | UK Review

Weather making you miserable? Mercedes-AMG might have the antidote...



We've had almost a year to get used to the idea of a hatchback hitting 62mph in under four seconds and nudging 170mph, but it still sounds bloody mad, doesn't it? As does the near Β£51k price tag required to put a Mercedes-AMG A45 S on the driveway. Thanks to the prevalence of the lesser AMG-Line trim, it could easily be mistaken for a car worth half its asking price - and that's a problem when you're trying to convince potential buyers that an Affalterbach engine and chassis are worth the premium. And that's a shame. Because it would be nice if we all owned a new A45 S.

For a start, it feels like an AMG inside. The latest A-Class is impressive anyway thanks to its widescreen slab of an infotainment system and instrument cluster that migrates into the five-door hatchback from larger models, but the A45 adds all the right tinsel - not least the well-bolstered leather seats and Alcantara-wrapped AMG steering wheel. Sure, there are some scratchy plastics on the B-pillar trim and lower transmission tunnel but they don't significantly detract from the model's range-topping status. And that's before you fire up its party piece.

If the M139 needs further introduction it's only to reiterate that it bears no similarities with the 2.0-litre engine fitted to the Mercedes-AMG A35. That motor is white bread. Very decent, does-its-job white bread. But filler nonetheless. The M139 is more like a Perigord truffle: rarified, small and apparently made by God Himself. How else to explain the gathering muscle of the low end or the explosiveness beyond? All four-cylinder engines want to be mistaken for something bigger capacity but the M139 actually follows through with the sort of elastic response that makes it feel fast from virtually any start point.


It's so rapid that it makes the eight-speed dual clutch auto seem like it's got shortened ratios. They're rattled off in such short order that it makes the downshifts seem a little hesitant. Hesitant for a tarmac rally car, that is. Elsewhere the frenzy is matched with a pyrotechnic soundtrack, the high-pitched four-pot backed by exhaust crackles and snorts to confirm that you're really on it.

The M139's partner in crime is the AMG Torque Control driveline, which uses a rear differential with clutch packs for each wheel. The 4Matic+ system is fully variable, so it can send a majority of the motor's torque rearwards and then split it depending on your inputs, giving the car rear-drive-like traits backed by all-wheel drive security. Over the crest and bumps of South Wales, the A45 S does a brilliant job of keeping all four wheels pinned no matter the mode (although obviously Sport+ does it best), leaving you and the torque split to determine how to attack each corner. In its stiffer damper setting the A45 S turns in eagerly - so eagerly in fact that even in the damp it's possible to really load up the outside edges of the Michelin Pilot 4Ss, just before you default to the accelerator pedal to determine which line you're about to take.


You can achieve several degrees of mid-corner rotation without ever encountering the unnerving rear-drive sensation that overcorrection is about fire you into the opposite ditch. The corrections can be small and neat, so long as you stay on throttle and allow the front wheels to help haul you forwards and back into line. Of course, for a 'straighter' fast line all the way through you can turn in off-throttle and rely the A45's initial safety understeer, before squeezing back onto the power when the car's settled, a tactic that suited the A45's predecessor best. But the idea of rewarding anyone still committed after turn-in is all-new, multi-dimensional and extremely moreish.

If there's a complaint, it's that the steering system itself still lacks feel, and must be supplemented by the feedback arriving in the seatbacks. Fortunately, the architecture is stiff enough to do the channeling even if it does result in undoubted firmness at low speeds. Above them the chassis possesses no small amount of composure and is quick enough in its responses that it does not require an overly fast steering rack or all-wheel steering hardware.

It's possible of course that the conditions in Wales this past week somewhat flatter the A45; after all, on damp roads the car's limits are made to seem more approachable - while highlighting just how quick it is in all weathers. But that's finding fault where arguably none exists. Ultimately, AMG has plumbed an additional strata into the A45's handling character - and that is to be celebrated no matter where it crops up in the overall experience. How good is it in the final analysis? Well, no-one is going to suggest that its maker has replicated the kind of fingertip purity you get from an Alpine A110 or Porsche 718 - but the A45 is quicker in a straight line and no less amusing when you really set your mind to it. For a car with back doors and a hatchback it speaks to its exceptionalism. Which is something else we're going to have to get used to...


SPECIFICATION - MERCEDES-AMG A45 S
Engine:
1,991cc, four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 421@6,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 369@5,000-5,250rpm
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 168mph
Weight: 1,635kg
MPG: 34
CO2: from 189g/km
Price: Β£50,570


















Photos | Stan Papior

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Author
Discussion

JRaj

Original Poster:

12 posts

25 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
£51k (I assume that's without any options) for a 4 port hatch with the base architecture of an A class? Surely you'll be looking at a sports car from the ground up for that price?

Also granted that it's a new car, but again at that price point, the 2nd hand market has a lot of interesting options.

smartypants

43,507 posts

121 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
The perfect car for someone with serious ADHD. There’s a lot going on in that cockpit and external styling! I think I’d need a lie down 5 mins after starting at that dash hehe

Dave Hedgehog

12,575 posts

156 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
smartypants said:
The perfect car for someone with serious ADHD. There’s a lot going on in that cockpit and external styling! I think I’d need a lie down 5 mins after starting at that dash hehe
It is migraine inducing

drpep

1,306 posts

120 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
1635kg in a hot hatch?! What is happening! That’s 20kg shy of an E92 M3!! Granted, it has the power to make up for it but... nah. I’m sure it’s a fine piece of engineering but it leaves me cold and disinterested.

Paddleshift, farty exhaust, crackles on overrun, big wedge of turbo power == the modern formula.

I think I’d rather a fast EV than this. When’s that Audi e-tron GT coming out?

Dave Hedgehog

12,575 posts

156 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
drpep said:
1635kg in a hot hatch?! What is happening! That’s 20kg shy of an E92 M3!! Granted, it has the power to make up for it but... nah. I’m sure it’s a fine piece of engineering but it leaves me cold and disinterested.

Paddleshift, farty exhaust, crackles on overrun, big wedge of turbo power == the modern formula.

I think I’d rather a fast EV than this. When’s that Audi e-tron GT coming out?
4wd, flappy boxes are heavy, it’s a big car compared to the original hot hatch backs

Regs have muted the farts etc greatly, so now it comes with a fake sound through the speakers button

The GLA with options is going to nudge 60k ...

My monthly payments and fuel bill on my M3P are less than the fuel, warranty and serving payments on my A45 if I had kept it, and that’s without the monthly.

Edited by Dave Hedgehog on Tuesday 18th February 07:07

thecremeegg

1,360 posts

155 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
JRaj said:
£51k (I assume that's without any options) for a 4 port hatch with the base architecture of an A class? Surely you'll be looking at a sports car from the ground up for that price?

Also granted that it's a new car, but again at that price point, the 2nd hand market has a lot of interesting options.
smartypants said:
The perfect car for someone with serious ADHD. There’s a lot going on in that cockpit and external styling! I think I’d need a lie down 5 mins after starting at that dash hehe
drpep said:
1635kg in a hot hatch?! What is happening! That’s 20kg shy of an E92 M3!! Granted, it has the power to make up for it but... nah. I’m sure it’s a fine piece of engineering but it leaves me cold and disinterested.

Paddleshift, farty exhaust, crackles on overrun, big wedge of turbo power == the modern formula.

I think I’d rather a fast EV than this. When’s that Audi e-tron GT coming out?
Pistonheads everybody, where speed matters, as long as it's in a car that's under 1000Kg, manual, no dashboard and will break every 5 minutes,

What an unbeliveably boring lot you all are!

gizard

2,157 posts

235 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
Looks like fun - Can you spec. the car without the canards and big wing - I'm pretty sure they have little effect other than 'look at me' needs to be a sleeper imo.

Mr_Sukebe

244 posts

160 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
1.6 tons. Just WTF?
Did Merc add tungsten into the chassis to keep the centre of gravity low.

Just another car with stupidly high limits of capability that's probably no fun at legal(ish) limits. Great for those pub bragging rights, or those insistent on proving how self important they are in traffic light grand prix.

No thanks.

Alex_225

3,855 posts

153 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
Wing aside, I think the outside is quite sedate really in that colour that is. I like the interior of these A Class models, they've managed to make them feel a bit special even if they are a bit busy.

The performance is mental though, I mean it really is. To think that full on, full size V8 AMGs 6-8 years ago were slower than this goes to show how far things have come. I'd live to have a go in one of these.

Weird thing about these cars though is that I don't want one. They are undeniably fast but in my mind they don't feel like a car I'd want to own. It's a hot hatch, auto, 2.0 turbo, 4WD which in my mind isn't what I want from a hot hatch, it's what I'd want from a big saloon. Can't put my finger on it and it's probably me being old fashioned.

My rambling aside, it's cool if not pricey little motor! smile

Baldchap

2,382 posts

44 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
My issue with the old A45 is that in my experience it's a complete chav wagon. Overly noisy, overly styled, excessively driven at all times. I suspect we'll see more of the same here. Time will tell.

Venisonpie

613 posts

34 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
On the one hand it will leave that Cayman GTS for dead, on the other it's a bit on the garish side..

Kenny Powers

2,600 posts

79 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
Fabulous but, for me personally, that sort of money is far too salty for a transverse 4-pot.

However, it's all relative, and I totally get that many people have this kind of cash to burn on a daily shopping car, so I'm definitely not knocking it. Undisputed king of the heavyweight hot hatches. Embrace these kinds of cars while you can, folks.

Miserablegit

1,368 posts

61 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
There was a Mercedes saloon next to me at a junction last night. Had a purple neon “mood” light around the dash and doors panels. Looked like a nightclub. Not a good look.

appletonn

699 posts

212 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
Venisonpie said:
On the one hand it will leave that Cayman GTS for dead, on the other it's a bit on the garish side..
I think the the initial thrills from the hot hatch on steroids would wear off but you'd always enjoy learning to drive the Cayman to & beyond its limits on the right roads?

Each to their own but I think I'd get bored of the AMG eventually, not least the 4 cylinder turbo soundtrack. Give me a sonorous 6 cylinder howl any day!

Edited by appletonn on Tuesday 18th February 12:18

Frimley111R

10,457 posts

186 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
JRaj said:
£51k (I assume that's without any options) for a 4 port hatch with the base architecture of an A class?
That's a massive over simplification though. It may have those but its quality, drive train and overall performance are unrivalled in its class. I think I'd find it hard to pay that for one but most will be financed anyway.

cerb4.5lee

14,155 posts

132 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
I think that it is mad that this has the same bhp and the same 0 to 60 time that my Cerbera 4.5 had...but with only a 2 litre engine!

If I had this sort of money for a small hatchback I would be in like a shot. I'm a fan for sure.

As mentioned it is heavy but at least this has 369 turbo torques...so it won't feel as limp as the E92 M3 does at a similar weight.

ajap1979

3,832 posts

139 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
JRaj said:
Surely you'll be looking at a sports car from the ground up for that price?
Is it not a fair assumption that anyone choosing a hot hatch over a sports car is doing so because of the practical attributes of the former?

C.MW

256 posts

21 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
Something Mitsubishi did with the Evo at a cheaper price some decades ago. Here it's only flashier on the inside, costs more, and still can't quite match the best the Evo had to offer in terms of driver engagement. Decent, but wouldn't call it exceptional.

wab172uk

1,594 posts

179 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
To be fair, it's probably all the car you'll ever need.

However, having test drove the A35 AMG Hatch, the ride even in comfort mode was hard and crashy. Too hard to become a daily driver. As I driver you could probably live with the ride, but your passengers wouldn't be so forgiving.

And while the dash & tech look impressive on first impressions. After a couple hours, it starts to look and feel very cheap. The upgraded sound system wasn't anywhere near as good as Audi's B&O system.

On a back road, with the gearbox locked in manual, the A35 AMG covered the ground at a very impressive speed. So this A45 S must be just ballistic.But the for me, if I was spending £50k+ on a Hyper-Hatch, I'd be looking at an RS3. At least the engine has some character. And the dash is traditional.

cerb4.5lee

14,155 posts

132 months

Tuesday 18th February
quotequote all
C.MW said:
Something Mitsubishi did with the Evo at a cheaper price some decades ago. Here it's only flashier on the inside, costs more, and still can't quite match the best the Evo had to offer in terms of driver engagement. Decent, but wouldn't call it exceptional.
Hopefully this won't need servicing every 2 minutes though. I remember that it got quite wearing taking my S14a 200SX in for a service every 6 months/6k miles...and the Evo has even shorter mileage intervals than that did.