What Car? says…
Four hundred and fifteen horsepower. That might seem like the power figure for a musclebound sports or performance car, but it’s actually how much grunt the Mercedes A45 AMG S packs into its sensible hatchback skin.
But even more impressive than the headline power figure, or indeed its 3.9sec 0-62mph time, is how the baby AMG achieves that level of firepower. You see, there isn’t a big six or eight-cylinder engine to be found under the bonnet, just a 2.0-litre four-cylinder – albeit with a turbocharger that’s bigger than your head. A less powerful non ‘S’ model is available in Europe, but apparently us Brits are too power-mad to even consider it.
Like the less powerful Mercedes A35 AMG, the A45 uses an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to feed its power to all four wheels. However, while you might assume the two cars use the same four-wheel drive system, the A45’s is far cleverer and can not only vary the power split between the front and rear wheels, but also from side to side at the rear.
The aim? Well, depending on the drive mode you’ve selected, the system can either boost traction and therefore stability or, if you’ve decided to take your A45 onto a racetrack, can encourage it to drift sideways creating lots of smoke. Sound familiar? That’s probably because it’s similar to the system found in the recently retired Ford Focus RS.
Mercedes has its sights set a little higher than to match a mere Ford, though. In fact, there’s really only one car that can even get close to the A45 AMG’s manic performance: the Audi RS3. Of course, you might also want to consider the less powerful BMW M135i if a premium badge is a must. If it isn’t, we’d certainly add a Honda Civic Type R to your list of hot hatches to try.
So, is the A45 AMG any good to drive, or is it just good for bragging rights down the pub? Stay with us over the next few pages to find out if it’s fun as well as fast and whether you could actually live with the thing day to day. And don’t forget to peruse our New Car Buying section for big savings on all manner of new cars.