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Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

Overall verdict


Enormous ground covering ability, traction and power, build quality


Hesitant gearbox, looks not for all, engine noise
An immensely fast and capable car to drive. But the engine needs more character.

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Our choice


A45 4Matic 5dr Auto


What we say: 

Merc gives us its first ever hot hatch. It's a monster. It brings new levels of performance to the sector

What is it?

Please be upstanding for Merc’s first ever stab at a hot hatch. But given it has twice as much power as a Ford Fiesta ST, it’s safe to say this one lives on the outer extremities of hot hatch-dom. And yet it’s only powered by a 2.0-litre four cylinder engine – one that Mercedes claims has better power density than any other production engine currently on sale worldwide. The key figure here is 178bhp per litre. Power is fed to the front wheels alone unless the electronic brain decrees otherwise, in which case the rears get a look in, too. The gearbox is a seven-speed twin clutcher.


Given that it’s a front engined, essentially front-wheel drive car, there’s no surprise that it’s driving dynamics are more closely aligned with the 4wd Audi RS3 than with the rear-wheel drive BMW M135i. It’s more dextrous than the Audi, rides better and has superb body control, but it can’t match the BMW’s natural rhythm and flow, and more importantly, its four cylinder engine doesn’t have the charisma or soundtrack of the five and six cylinder units fitted in the Audi and BMW respectively. It’s just too bland to be a genuine blood-and-thunder AMG.

That only applies to the soundtrack, because the power, once the big turbo has spun itself up to full puff, is little short of astounding. It zaps from corner to corner on a wave of solid traction and g-force. As far as pure speed goes, it’s outstanding. It even has nicely weighted steering. OK, so it is a bit nose heavy in extremis and the paddleshift gearbox is deeply irritating when it refuses to shift down, but as a means of getting about the place, not much is faster.

On the inside

All A-Class’s have beautifully built cabins, and the AMG is no exception. The heavily bolstered seats give the sort of driving position that puts you in the mood for what the car has to offer, while climate control, DAB radio, Bluetooth and parking sensors are all included. We’d spend £570 on an alcantara steering wheel to round things off. Oh, and £510 on the Performance exhaust and the £765 Performance suspension.

Being a five-door, it’s fairly practical, although the standard A isn’t the biggest in this sector and those massive front chairs do nothing to help here.


The list price may be high and options eye-watering, but it does its best to help keep the running costs down. The real headline here is road tax and fuel economy. Merc’s engine work has resulted in a car that achieves 40.9mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting only 161g/km of CO2. For a car capable of 0-60mph in 4.6secs, that’s astonishing.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
A45 4Matic 5dr Auto
4.6s 161g/km 40.9 360 £37,960
The cheapest
A180 SE 5dr
9.2s 127g/km 51.4 122 £20,660
The greenest
A180 CDI SE 5dr
11.3s 98g/km 76.4 109 £21,735


How about something completely different?



Porsche Cayman

If small children aren't a key part of your life, have a Porsche Cayman. The base model is similarly priced and although not as fast, is way more satisfying to drive