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TG rides shotgun in the Merc A45 AMG

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Tobias Moers, head of development at AMG, has confirmed to Top Gear that AMG is planning three new models based on the A-Class platform. And he’s given us a ride in the first of them, the A45 AMG.

We know Mercedes is building a CLA. It’s a sort of baby-CLS, and its design was previewed by the F800 Style concept car (pic 3, above). We understand another bodystyle will be a wagon version of this. Think of it as a mini-CLS Shooting Brake. It’s safe to assume both of these will get the AMG treatment.

And if you’re concerned that AMG is losing the plot by building an A-Class AMG, don’t be. I strapped into the passenger seats as Moers headed off for a lengthy road and track drive in the prototype. I reckon it will be every inch an AMG.

For starters, it sounds awesome. The typical AMG-burble is there when you lift off, and there’s no four-cylinder drone at any point. Hard-edged, enthusiastic. Good, in other words. Its 2.0-litre engine is pretty luridly turbocharged, ending up at 350bhp and 331lb ft (the figures are unconfirmed at the moment). Moers is also proud of the fuel consumption, which he says is about 40mpg, again unconfirmed.

Moers admits he felt a little bit nervous when it was decided to do an AMG A, because there is so much weight over the front axle. But he’s confident that AMG’s major alterations throughout the suspension will cope with the weight distribution, and with all the extra power.

More troublesome for AMG is that other A-class models are front drive. But not this one. Merc’s in-house tuner has turned the A-Class into a four-wheel drive hot hatch by using a Haldex clutch, and it has also completely re-designed all the suspension.

This is the only A-Class to get all wheel drive and before you ask, yes, it is coming to the UK. The four-wheel drive set-up also means that the A45 doesn’t seem to suffer from torque steer - we certainly couldn’t see Moers fighting the wheel. It also seems to ride OK on the road, and there’s plenty of grip wherever you are.

All of which bodes well for the CLA AMG and the mini-wagon. Moers is well aware of some of AMG’s past mistakes - he virtually refused to even acknowledge the disastrous R-Class. So there will be no AMG B-class. But on the basis of our trip in this A45, AMG might be stretching its remit but its future should be safe. More models, no brand dilution, all good.

Piers Ward

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