You are here
The Top Gear car review:Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
For:Enormous ground covering ability, traction and power, build quality
Against:Hesitant gearbox, looks not for all, engine noise
A45 4Matic 5dr Auto
It’s the second hot Merc of the day: but is it any better than its CLA cousin? Ollie Marriage reports
Not adrenaline-charged, not very practical, but interesting to look at and a lovely place to be on a long journey
Entry-level Merc has us hunting for a swift exit
Paying a hefty premium for a prestige car is as inevitable, as finding at least one elected representative in your government suffocating inside...
This is going to be a big year for Mercedes-Benz. Alongside a rash of revisions to the current line-up, expect new models like the luxury R- and...
M-B claims fuel consumption averages 10 per cent better than before, despite the extra power. The turbo petrol engine and the two top diesels come...
The A range is vast. Petrol engines run from 1.5-litre 95bhp and 1.7 116bhp, through the two-litre I drove, to the upcoming two-litre Turbo. The...
Once seen as the freshest thing on four wheels, Merc’s baby has become a common sight on our roads to the point where nobody notices it any more....
Despite the A-class’s bad start when they received an unhealthy amount of press for falling over, there’s no shortage of them on our roads....
They’re clever, those Germans. They’ve really got it together to make chic family hatchbacks with clever packaging, solid build quality and the...
When Mercedes invited us to drive the revised A-class, we thought it was going to be a case of ‘don’t mention the elk’. But the German fun-time...
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.