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Long-term review

Mercedes-AMG A45 S – long-term review

£56,570/£58,365 as tested?£626 per month
Published: 28 Oct 2020


  • SPEC

    A45 S



  • BHP


  • MPG


  • 0-62


Report 1

The delivery driver was in pain. “You don’t know where the controls for the lumbar support are, do you?” he said, hobbling out of the sparkling A45 he’d just parked at mine, “I’ve completely done my back in driving down here.” I’d been busy taking in the £1,795 mountain grey magno paint, but this jerked me out of my reverie. ‘I’ve got this’, I thought, ‘it’ll be on the side of the seat or with the rest of the electric seat controls on the door’.

But no. I couldn’t find it either. Because there are always better things to do than read the owner’s manual, I assumed there was no lumbar adjustment and instead spent the next week tolerating spinal discomfort from the constant push in the back. Then one evening my son was going through the settings menu. I’d attempted this already, but it’s next to impossible when driving.

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I glanced over. He’d just clicked on the Ambient Lighting menu, but there, at the top, was a sub-menu called Seat Comfort. Hang about. I got him to go back and check again. Yes, click on Ambient Lighting, and within that you’ll find Seat Comfort. And within that a route out of constant back pain. But look, first week of life with the A45 and one of my fears was realised. Not only is it too bloody complicated, but where’s the sodding logic? Since when was seat comfort a subset of ambient lighting?

My fear with the A45 is that I’m going to spend so much of my time managing the car that I don’t actually enjoy driving it. That’s what I’ll find out. But I am really looking forward to spending time with it, driving a relatively small, nimble performance car after the Audi RS6. Great though that is, it’s too big and heavy to be genuinely rewarding. This is a feistier, punchier little thing, but still a long way from being a simple hot hatch. 4WD with a mechanical front diff and pair of electrically-controlled clutches at the rear, eight-speed multi-clutch gearbox, three water pumps in the engine bay, a single turbo that runs such heat and pressure that it’s cooled by water, air and oil, a cabin sound generator… it’s got a spec sheet that reads like a supercar's.

And a kit list to match: Burmester sound system, panoramic glass roof, matrix LED lights, adaptive damping. Actually that little lot would cost thousands to add to an exotic wedge, but here it’s all included in the £56,570 asking price. A bargain then? Well, it’s not exactly usual hot hatch money. For similar outlay I could have a super-fast electric car (Tesla Model 3 Performance) or a multi-faceted coupe (Porsche Cayman S or BMW M2 Competition), all of which come from higher places on the automotive pecking order. Or do they? People seem to worship the tarmac the A45 passes over. What we’re looking at here is an automotive jewel: small, dense and powerfully alluring.

But also, I hope, useful. Five doors, hatchback tail, room for people and kit. Plus of course a daft turn of speed. But first of all I’ve got to figure out how it works. It’s time to capitulate. I’m off to get the owner’s manual. Typically enough, it's digital.

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