Driven: 2020 Mercedes-AMG A45s
We have spent a few weeks sampling a raft of new Mercedes-AMG products, and in particular their fast compact series in the form of the A35 and CLA35 derivatives. While these cars are fast and indeed fun to drive there was always one thing at the back of our minds. The A45s AMG, the most powerful production hatchback on sale today.
When Mercedes-AMG introduced the first generation A45 AMG the world was not ready. It was a 2.0-litre 265kW hatchback that featured four-wheel drive. Mercedes-AMG moved the goalposts and since then the power war has been raging on. Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, and in recent years Renault and Hyundai have joined the fight. The Audi RS3 remains a formidable contender but Mercedes-AMG has once again pushed the boundaries.
Enter the latest A45s AMG, the most powerful production hatchback on sale today. The latest A45s looks every bit as serious as a Group B rally car, and in some cases, it will make you feel as if you are in a Group B rally car. Big wings, aggressive bumpers, and four large tailpipes adorn the A45s AMG. When you see it, you know it means business.
To better help you understand how the A35 and A45s differ one must apply the age old comparison of hot food. The A35 range is like the mild option at Nandos with some added hot sauce. The A45s is more like the extra hot option with added hot sauce, however the hot sauce is in that black bottle, one sniff and your eyes start to water.
Under the bonnet of this pocket nuclear bomb is a - and this is ridiculous- 2.0-litre four cylinder turbocharged motor that develops 310kW and 500Nm of torque. To put that into perspective, the naturally aspirated Mercedes-AMG C63, the one with the big V8 developed around 26kW more than this A45s. 0-100km/h is achieved in about 4.1 seconds; the aforementioned C63 AMG did it about 4.5 seconds.
The A45s is more than just 0-100km/h, in hit the 400m mark in just 12.3 seconds, and will reach just under 240km/h from standstill in one kilometre. Those are some serious performance numbers. The A45s has taken what we thought we knew about hot hatch performance and completely redefined it. This is indeed a hyper hatch.
However, as impressive as all the above may be, the A45s does have a rather important task on its hand, and that is everyday liveability. Like the A35 and CLA35, the A45s can, at the turn of a dial become a normal, soft-spoken two-litre. Put the car into comfort mode and it all calms down, it becomes quiet, calm, and sophisticated.
You are able to appreciate the sporty interior, you can play with the latest MBUX infotainment system which is one of the best systems on offer. It is beautifully designed and once you get the gist of it, easy to use. The digital instrument cluster is also great and offers a host of customizable options. The interior is a wash of leather, Alcantara, and carbon-fibre, blended together tastefully.
Out on the road, the A45s AMG puts its power down via a slightly more focused 4Matic system. 4Matic+ is able to send just about all the power to the rear and, as we experienced in a controlled environment at the national media lunch the A45s os able to help you drift. Be warned as this mode is only suited for racetracks under the supervision of professionals, such as those at Mercedes-AMG Driving Dynamics.
The A45s AMG is fast and it devours corners, it demands your attention if you plan to exploit its potential. This car has redefined a segment and we feel that others will soon be introducing equally potent machines. The power war has just begun but, to partake one must part with many of your Rands. The A45s AMG is not cheap, the standard price tag is around R1 156 840. Our vehicle had a few options which pushes the price well above the list price so, be cautious how you option your car.