The A 45 has been around since 2013 and back then, it was fast and fun. How has Mercedes improved the facelifted 2016 model? That’s simple. It made it faster.
With a peak output of 375bhp and maximum torque of 475Nm, this little hot rod is the world’s most powerful midsized sports model. But spare a thought for poor Audi. It thought it had that tag in the bag with the 362bhp RS3. AMG wasn’t going to have any of it, and no sooner after the Audi had been unveiled, it went to work on the A 45 and, to cut a long story short, the RS3 can’t touch this. The newbie hits 100kph in 4.2 seconds – that’s about half a second faster than the previous model.
And it isn’t just a case of piling on the power and not worrying about the handling; traction is provided by the standard all-wheel drive, which ranges between FWD-only and a 50:50 front-to-back power distribution split. It’s just so hooked-up all the time and you’ve got to really be trying to feel the new mechanical front-axle locking diff working.
Even though it has more urgency than before, Merc claims the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot still sips only 6.9-litres per 100km, the same as the previous model. AMG achieved this thanks to a newly configured valve assembly, along with the combustion cycle being optimised with reconfigured timing and turbocharging. Boost pressure hasn’t changed, remaining at 26.1 PSI, but the car’s character sure has. It’s now wilder than ever, far more willing and as a result, far more enjoyable to drive.
It also sounds superb; the exhaust system has an automatically controlled flange that allows you to select your preferred exhaust note at the touch of a button. This corresponds to a host of different driving modes via the Dynamic Select system, which allows you to choose between Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual modes. They alter transmission shifts, throttle response and traction control.
Speaking of the transmission, the seven-speed DCT gearbox (with aluminium paddle shifters) is as impressive as ever; it’s silky smooth in Comfort and then about as delicate as a wrecking ball when you’re in Sport Plus. In the latter, full throttle upshifts are also accompanied by a pleasing exhaust flutter and best of all, it doesn’t auto-upshift at the redline. What’s more, shorter gear ratios from third to seventh allow the hot hatch to accelerate with far more ferocity.
Boy racers will love the 19in wheels, the massive DTM-style carbon fibre spoiler at the back and the flashy Elbaite Green paint our tester came in, but a sharp black finish would suit it better because that’s probably the colour of this car’s heart. With a diamond grille, new LED headlights and freshly designed tail lights with dual tailpipe trim integrated flush into the bumper, it sure demands attention.
Inside, it features a blend of high-end materials, real metal accents and a grippy multifunction sport steering wheel with a flat bottom that’s been pinched straight from the AMG GT. Oh, and the red seat belts are a nice touch. On the safety front Distronic Plus (that’s active cruise control in Merc speak) and lane-keeping assist are new. It has a larger 8.3in infotainment screen, though it still looks like a last-minute add-on.
But who cares about that. This A 45 has huge performance, handles superbly and is a proper hardcore AMG machine. That’s all that matters.