The phenomenal shadow
I’ve been waiting for this car a long time. A few cancellations and finger nails later, Mercedes-Benz’ A45 AMG finally arrived for a week of testing. Why was I so excited to drive it? Not only is it the first proper AMG A-Class, it’s also the first four-pot AMG and the most powerful four cylinder in the world.
That’s right, this car is all about big numbers under the column marked “power”. If you’re into hybrids and economical diesels, you may want to stop reading now. Should you appreciate cars which almost burst with too many muscles, the A45 AMG is just the ticket and you probably know all about it.
For those who don’t, here’s a quick refresher: aluminium block 1,991cc twin-scroll turbo-petrol four cylinder with forged pistons, multi-point direct injection, 265kW at 6,000rpm, 450Nm from 2,250 to 5,000rpm, 6,700rpm redline, 8.6:1 compression ratio and 1.8 bar maximum boost pressure.
Power is delivered to all four wheels via a supremely clever 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with ECO start/stop function, three drive modes and Race Start. Cooling for all of the above was nicked from the SLS AMG and takes up most of the front bumper.
Part of the A45’s impressive safety package is a three-mode ESP (electronic stability program) with normal, Sport and OFF settings. Sport dilutes the traction control and sends more power to the rear axle (with own clutch) while OFF will turn a blind eye until you hit the massive grooved and cross-drilled brakes.
AMG claims 7L/100km average fuel consumption, 165g CO2/km and EU6 emissions standard, an electronically limited 250km/h top speed and 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds. I tried my level best to achieve that consumption figure but the closest I got was an indicated 8.1L/100km with VERY careful driving.
The opposite side of the spectrum is much easier when you slot the A45 AMG into Manual mode and paw your way through the cogs with loud shots on full-throttle upshifts and a volley of cracks and pops when you shift down or lift off – this will eventually pin the consumption average to its maximum of 20.
Better yet, engage Race Start and sprint past 100km/h in under five seconds. We did a few of these for our performance testing and although we clocked a 3.9 as well, our average time was 4.3 seconds– one of the fastest we have ever recorded. 400m fell in just 12.4 seconds, which is firmly in modern V8 territory.
If that isn’t enough to convince anyone of the A45’s blisteringly fast credentials, the road holding most certainly will. Incredibly hard and bumpy at low speeds, the fully independent, three-link front and four-link rear setup with something called elastokinematics can handle cornering speeds which beggar belief.
I’ll happily admit that I probably didn’t get close to this car’s grip limits; for the costs of failure are way too high. If you lose it in an A45 AMG, you are traveling at very, very high speeds. That typed, if common sense prevails and you drive within your own limits, the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG will astound you.
Mother Nature even opened the heavens for a bit so we could sample wet weather handling and it is absolutely phenomenal. Yet again, as long as you don’t overcook it, the A45 stays planted and the active steering allows you to point it where you want. No torque steer, no drama, just grip.
All the while you’ll also notice how taut and smooth this car is, especially when driving quickly. The sports seats aren’t overly hard or intrusive and the half-suede leather steering wheel is a joy to operate, the cabin’s high waist makes you feel cocooned and most switch gear feels expensive and durable.
Other bespoke items for this car are red ventilation surrounds and stitching, big silver shift paddles, 320km/h speedometer and AMG menu with race timer in the instrument cluster, carbon fibre-look trim, bright red seatbelts, AMG door sills and a stubby gear selector with embossed AMG logo.
I won’t bore you with more specifications but you may be interested in some of the A45’s many optional extras which include bigger spoilers, wings, more carbon fibre lookalikes, a louder exhaust system, different wheels, lots of trim blackness, as well as hard-core seats, suspension and steering, to name a few.
An A45 AMG is supposed to cost N$599,500 with a six-year/100,000km maintenance plan but as the waiting list is rather long, some people are asking another N$100,000 on top. Is that a bit pricey? Yes. Is the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG worth such a stupid price? Yes. Without a shadow of doubt.
0-100m: 5.2s / 109.5km/h
0-200m: 8.0s / 137.7km/h
0-300m: 10.3s / 159.7km/h
0-400m: 12.4s / 175.4km/h
1/4mile: 12.5s @ 109.2mph (175.7km/h)