Mercedes-AMG Spruces A45 S up Just in Case. We Drive It
Just in case it was slipping, Mercedes-AMG has taken a knife to it, to titivate it’s hyper-hatch A45 S 4Matic+. It wasted little time to dispatch us one for a quick refresher.
Still only a hatchback, A45 S is not for sale in the US. There you must make do with the mechanically identical CLA 45, which comes with the same, rude 415 HP 369 lb.-ft turbo four-pot to keep that promise of a 3.9 seconds 0-60 mph sprint. The changes, albeit comprehensive according to AMG, are mainly cosmetic. But we like them.
Obvious from the get-go, you do notice the revised headlamps, new, even more brutal AMG-specific grille, and round laurel wreath AMG badge to replace the Mercedes star on the double power bubble bonnet. The bigger, bolder star continues in the grille.
Some May Consider A45 S Trim Grotesque
The glaring jet-wing front apron is emphasized by brash dayglo red striping on our carbon grey sample. The rear spoiler gains a new lip above revised LED taillights and the hallmark AMG twin-flow quad exhaust tips. Not everyone will appreciate all these grotesque embellishments. But you can have your A45 S without any of that.
Splendid new exaggerated rim five-spoke 19-inch 8.5 J light AMG alloys wear 245/35 R 19 Michelin Sport Pilots. They frame matching red 6-piston monobloc fixed front calipers gabbing the same ventilated and perforated 360 x 36 mm front discs. Single-pot floating calipers clamp 330 x 22 mm rotors aft.
Swing the door open to reveal a latest generation AMG Performance steering wheel. It has sharp touch sensitive stalks and AMG mode buttons for quick AMG Dynamics and ESP adjustment on the fly. We like them, but not sure about the over-sensitive basic touch elements. Not as well thought out as we’d expect from Mercedes.
Latest Generation AMG Screen MBUX
Other cabin changes are not apparent straight up, but this quicker acting latest generation interactive AMG screen MBUX ‘Hey Mercedes’ infotainment is faster and apparently more intuitive. We still miss a few more real buttons and knobs for readily used functions. The latest cabin also gains extra USC points and wireless charging too.
Imposing as AMG A45 S may be it certainly stands head and shoulders above from the moment you finger the starter button to shake the 415 HP 369 lb.-ft 2.1-bar twin-scroll roller bearing turbocharged M139 2-litre 4 pot to life. There’s no velvet glove here. Just a naked iron fist. Taut and stiff, its many chassis tweaks scream racecar in brutal harmony.
The One Man One Engine AMG lump is spun 180 degrees to turn its inlet to the front of the bay with the exhaust and turbo behind. To improve engine airflow and induce ram-effect at speed. Two-stage piezo injectors, an electronic wastegate, mirror-like F1-derived Nanoslide cylinder bores and separate cylinder head and crankcase cooling water pumps add to an exotic engine spec.
A45 S Race Start Like the Bullet From a Gun
Not enough? Never fear! Add AMG’s new Speedshift DCT 8G dual-clutch gearbox and 4-Matic all-wheel drive, Race Start and Drift Mode too. Race Start is a peach. Just stand on the gas and the brakes, let it crackle a second and slip your left foot off the clamps. That releases A45 S like the bullet from a gun, crunching your back into the racing seat as it rockets to the horizon.
Best of all, it launches with metronomic consistency. Several acceleration runs on all came in within a hundredth of a second of the next. Which means that A 45 S is likely to keep on delivering its claimed record 3.9-second dash, or slightly better to sixty, all day long. Or until you’ve used all the fuel. Which is pretty soon if you keep on dealing out the sort of abuse this car loves.
There’s more to A45 S it than just the drag strip. Find a deserted col or take it to the track day and it demands to be taken by the neck and manhandled. The harder you steer, the better it responds and even those Sport Pilots complain as A 45 S exploits them to turn in like a dart and brilliantly follow through.
Be Greedy with the Throttle.
Be greedy with the throttle. You sense the systems working under you. Selectively spilt central and totally variable AMG Torque Control rear differentials apportion power between the four corners of the car. Best of all, it delivers a rear-wheel drive like feel and even becomes tail happy with a good deal of turning moment induced.
It feels just like a race car. It hardly leans. Frequency-selective adaptive dampers, high performance coils and three-mode AMG Ride Control means it corners hard enough to make you brace your neck as A45 S takes extreme hatchback motoring next level. Those Sport Pilots simply don’t drop off, either…
Did someone say Drift Mode? Aah! Drift Mode! If you ever tire of chasing tenths of a second every lap, Drift Mode replaces the go with a little show at the touch of a button. So, once you have the hang of it, A 45 S becomes a drift tool of note. And Race mode tarts the car’s exhaust tone gruff with pops, bangs, and all. Just in case!
A45 S is a Peerless Hot Hatch
A 45 S loves to stop. Its brakes dig abuse. Jump on them way beyond your comfortable markers on track and still it retards spectacularly. The holes punched in the discs whirr under the severe clamping pressure of the 6-pot calipers to slow it supremely and consistently. Without a trace of fade.
As an extreme performance hatch, the A45 S remains pretty well peerless. Sure, it has a few foibles off the boil. Short on low down grunt, it relies on its gearbox to shift down quickly. And let’s just say that it’s honest about what it drives over. That brutal, direct set-up is ever-present. Even in its most basic comfort mode. That means A45 S will satisfy some of the people some of the time. Not all of them all of the time….
There are a few other aspects we found lacking for an eye watering R1.4 million. Not that any of them will ever detract the guy or gal who really wants one of these. To them, the wild Mercedes-AMG A 45 S is quite simply a huge fun, great looking and practical enough ultra-hatch that ticks every dynamic box with distinction. And for them, long live the King! — Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-AMG A45 S 4Matic+
Engine: 415 HP 369 lb.-ft Nm 2-litrer turbo petrol I4
Drive: 8-speed DC auto AWD
0-40 mph: 1.91 sec
0-60 mph: 3.68 sec
0-80 mph: 5.03 sec
0-100 mph: 8.22 sec
¼-mile: 11.9 sec @ 119 mph
50-75 mph: 2.28 sec
75-100 mph: 3.21 sec
VMax: 167 mph
Fuel: 28 mpg
LIST PRICE: $57,800*
*CLA 45 AMG US price