Finally! I’ve been let loose in a Mercedes-AMG, in the form of the brand new A45 4MATIC high performance hatch. It’s not just any fast hatch though, it’s powered by the world’s most powerful 2 litre, 4 cylinder engine, and at 381 hp and 475 Nm of torque it’s by no means something to mess with. Needless to say I was relatively gentle with it on my test route, one because of the running in instructions which I’ll go through later, and two because I had some parting words of my Sales Manager running through my head; “Don’t make yourself famous”.
Mercedes-AMG A45 4MATIC
The car I’ve managed to get my hands on is a 2016 Mercedes-AMG A45 4MATIC, thankfully with some nice toys on it. Selective damping, COMAND Online, the AMG Exclusive package and Night Package to name a few, and not forgetting the Premium Pack which gives you the Memory Package, Harmon Kardon, Keyless Go package and the Panoramic Sunroof. If you’ve got the Night Pack and still have some money in the bank, the panoramic sunroof is a must in my opinion. With all of the black trim parts, the roof just breaks up that big body of paint to give it a sportier look.
Now this is where I can move onto the most important part of any AMG; the engine. The power comes from a turbocharged 4 cylinder petrol unit, which has been acclaimed by independent experts in the field and has received the coveted “International Engine of the Year” award in 2014 and 2015 in the 1.8 – 2.0 litre class. Forged pistons, gravity sand-cast aluminium crankcase and a forged steel crankshaft makes up the main components and fires it into the realms of a proper performance car, not just a run-of-the-mill hot hatch. A new valve assembly and optimised timing and turbocharging are to thank for the 191 hp per litre output and 21 hp hike compared to the pre-facelift version.
Now how does all this technology work on the road? Well that’s where being in south Devon works in favour of us car nuts, offering up some rather tasty driving roads over Dartmoor like this;
Like I said earlier my hooliganism is dampened ever so slightly by the fact the engine on our car hasn’t been run in yet. There are parameters that you can’t exceed to make sure the engine is run-in properly, because of the nature of its hand-built assembly. So what does that mean? No kickdown, no full-load throttle, maximum speed of 85 mph, and a maximum of 4500 rpm for the first 1000 miles. There’s still plenty of room left for some fun though, so it’s not all lost.
Even with the running in restrictions I was still able to play with the Dynamic Select switch, moving between Individual, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ mode, although I decided to stay away from Race mode with the view to not ‘making myself famous’. In Sport+ mode, the re-engineered ECU offers some very clever technical highlights for the different driving modes, using partial cylinder suppression and injection/ignition retardation under full throttle, which speeds up the gear changes. It also throws in an almighty burble on overrun and the best pop on the upshift. And if you go for the optional Performance Exhaust, the noise gets even better. Proper driving fun.
Engine quality is carried onto the interior where the AMG Exclusive Pack wraps the seats in perforated black red-cut leather with contrast stitching, and the AMG Performance Steering wheel is covered in Dinamica microfibre cloth and Nappa leather, giving it a nice premium feel. Standard equipment is pretty good in the A45, with a host of convenience and safety systems like Collision Prevention Assist and a full Bluetooth Interface which keep you entertained and on the road.
So what did I think overall? Whilst the Mercedes-AMG A45 4MATIC has not got the long-distance capability of say a C-Class or E-Class, it’s still a car I think would be great to live with daily. And that’s not taking anything away from the A45, it just wasn’t designed to sit on a straight bit of tarmac for hours on end. It was built to put a smile on your face whilst navigating the twisty country lanes or even better, hitting the apexes on a race track. It’s got an emotional design (and an aggressive noise) which exudes excitement and adrenaline, but at the same time won’t shake you to the bone whilst doing the short morning commute. And what’s even better about this engine? They offer it in the CLA and GLA as well, meaning if you couldn’t live with a hatchback you’ve got a coupe, shooting brake and compact SUV to choose from. For my first test in an AMG, I’d say it was a success. Nice sunny weather, some fairly empty moorland roads and a soundtrack that could restart a heartbeat, all I need now is to work my way up the AMG range and get into the V8. Fingers crossed!