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Flagship rebel

Our most anticipated drive of the year, we take the latest 360bhp hot hatch from the Mercedes-Benz AMG Skunkworks for one helluva an impression…
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
31 Oct 2013
What we like:
pros
Supernatural cornering performance that defies physics. Addictive exhaust note that cracks
pros
pops and burbles. Lightning quick shifts that rival the best that VW’s DSG has to offer.
What we dislike:
cons
The price. It creeps too close to throughbred sports cars like the Boxster S.

Enter a corner at speed and you will immediately realize that the A 45 grips like a Rottweiler on steak. It just doesn’t let go and challenging it further will only mean plastering yourself into a hedge or faster lap times. But from the speeds we were brave enough to attempt, the A 45 remains solidly planted.

The immense cornering grip is the end result of several factors. The 4MATIC system behaves like a FWD drive system most of the time. But once slip is detected in the front wheels, it’ll send power (as much as 50%) to the rear to ‘push’ the car through the bend. Through a turn, the dampers are sophisticated enough to absorb the uneven surface while under heavy lateral load.

On initial impression, the ride in the A 45 is considerably busy around town. However the harsh damping starts to make sense once you pick up speed. At cruising speeds, the damping is extremely well-controlled and neutralizes bumps and drop-offs with nary a bother. The brilliance of the suspension increases in tandem with the velocity.

Knowing how scary this A45 can get up to speeds, AMG did well to afford it a decent set of high performance brakes. With 350mm four pots up front and 330mm single piston in the rear, the A 45 can be hauled to a stop with face warping tenacity. It helps that the taut brake pedal has good pedal feel to apply just the right amount of stopping power when needed.

Mercedes-Benz boasts of its combined fuel consumption of just 14.5km/L when driven sensibly which we unfortunately couldn't prove as the A45 hardly encourages any sensible driving. But what we can conclude is that when properly spanked at full trot, the 2.0-litre four pot will barely manage 300km on a single tank.

Conclusion

Considering the long wait, has the A 45 AMG lived up to expectations? YES! And it has opened up a new chapter in the AMG history books for one of the greatest hatchbacks ever built. It’s not often that we can find a car that can respond intuitively to a driver’s input and this is right up there with the all-time greats. This isn’t a hot hatch, it’s a smoldering cauldron of automotive perfection!

For now, the A 45 AMG is king of the hill in the hot hatch market. At least untill Volkswagen’s MKVII Golf R arrives next year.

Unfortunately, perfection doesn’t come cheap and at $304,888 (correct at press time) excluding the $30,000 Edition One package, it is creeping awfully close to Boxster S territory. It would take a determined buyer who wants jaw dropping performance in an understated hatch to agree to the price. But it’ll be a hatch that’ll embarrass even the likes of a BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 in the bends.

Credits: Story and Photos by Benjamin G. Kline

Cars in this article
Mercedes-Benz A-Class A45 AMG 2013
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Mercedes-Benz A-Class A45 AMG 2013

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