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It used to be a big deal for a tuned engine to achieve more than 100hp per litre. Now look at the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC: two litres, 421hp. Unreal. Mercedes-AMG has totally re-engineered its flagship hot hatch, carrying little more than a couple of bolts over from the previous AMG 45. Result is supercar speed in a hatchback body – tamed by a sophisticated new 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.
An array of Mercedes-Benz safety systems come as standard with the A 45 S 4 MATIC, including Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keep Assist, Attention Assist, and Speed Limit Assist. The 4MATIC+ Plus package adds Traffic Sign Assist and Blind Spot Assist.
The UK market gets the full power A 45 S 4MATIC, which boasts an astonishing 421hp and 500Nm of torque. Zero to 62 miles an hour takes 3.9 seconds, and fuel economy (if anyone’s interested) is 33.6 mpg combined. There’s some serious engineering technology that goes into making a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine deliver such high performance reliably, with peak power arriving at 6750rpm, while peak torque arrives between 5000-5250rpm. Even more remarkably, the A 45 S 4MATIC behaves in a perfectly civilised fashion when you’re not trying to set the Nürburgring on fire.
Power is sent to all four wheels via a sophisticated programme that uses sensors for yaw, steering angle and throttle to apportion power between the front and rear, abetted by a mechanical slip diff at the front and a pair of electronic clutches on the rear wheels. The six selectable AMG driving modes are Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and Race.
AMG grilles have vertical slats to set them apart from the mainstream Mercedes-Benz models. The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4MATIC has twelve slats, as well as wider front wings with flared arches, side skirts, 19-inch five-twin-spoke alloys and red brake callipers. At the back there are two sets of twin tailpipes and a purposeful-looking diffuser. As the A 45 S also sits lower on AMG Suspension with AMG Ride Control, the visual message is clear; this is one very hot hatch.
Inside, detail touches include AMG Performance seats and steering wheel. The A 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus package adds an aerodynamic bodykit with a modified front splitter, additional flics on the front apron, an additional diffuser blade, side spoiler lips on the rear apron and a rear spoiler.
The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S comes with a 10.25-inch touch screen and 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, creating a widescreen display beneath a single glass panel. AMG-specific display modes include ‘Supersport’ with central tachometer and driving feedback graphics. The MBUX infotainment system with its ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant includes augmented reality satellite navigation as well as smartphone integration with wireless charging.
Other features include 64-colour ambient lighting, keyless entry and the parking package; choose the 4MATIC+ Plus if you also want a Burmeister audio system, Adaptive Damping, panoramic sunroof and multibeam LED headlights with Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus.
Verdict: It’s not just the way the A 45 S 4MATIC gobbles up the straights that will astonish you; its ability to slingshot you around corners, using sophisticated chassis technology to supplement your own skills, is even more breath-taking. Yet it can be as docile and as civilised in traffic as its lower-powered stablemates. An engineering tour de force.
|Vehicle Height (unladen)||1417mm|
|Unladen Weight (DIN)||1555kg|
|Engine / Cylinders||2.0 litre|
|Engine Capacity||1991 cc|
|Max Torque||475 Nm @ 2250-5000 rpm|
|Max Power||280kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Top Speed||250 km/h|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h / 4.2 seconds|
|Combined Cycle||7.3-6.9 1/100km|
|Urban Cycle||9.6-9.2 1/100km|
|CO2||171 - 162 g/km|