Revisions to the reigning super-hatch champ make it more powerful than ever – and give it the handling to match
A 381bhp hatchback. Now, that’s sensible.
Here we have the latest version of the Merc-AMG A45, complete with optional front LSD and two-stage adaptive shocks. It’s the kind of ultra-hatch you get when the ticket starts with a four – the kind that leaves mere GTIs face-down in a pool of blood.
Four equals more
Like its closest competitors, the VW Golf R and Audi RS3, the A45 has four driven wheels. That sticky diff up front is there to haul it into corners where all that power would have it scrub wide, and with weightier steering than the standard A-class it turns in with fierce intent.
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch, all-wheel drive
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy: 40.9mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 171g/km
It’s not what you’d call a pussycat, but it’s never going to be any less up for it than you are. With ferocious turbocharged power at your beck and call, it’s not one of those cars that catches you off guard with how fast you’re going. Instead, every mile per hour counts towards the grin factor.
If only the same could be said for the seven-speed auto box. This doesn’t always do what you ask it to, and sometimes it’ll drop too many cogs at once. It’s not up to the same standard as the engine, that’s for sure.
Most importantly, though, when you pour this much power into a hatchback there’s got to be a worry that it’ll be too much for its chassis to handle. But no. You do feel the engine’s weight up front, but assuming you’re not hopping in and out of the A45 with the keys to a Cayman S in your other hand, what you’ll feel is a heady combination of sheer speed and steering that really means it.
You’ll also be able to enjoy all this if it’s been raining, which is no small point. The kind of fast car that turns into a slow one when the road is wet is better suited to… well, more or less anywhere else but Britain.
It’s not all about pure power and aggression, though. AMG has revised the A45’s ride, with those optional shocks doing an excellent job of turning a hard-nosed performance hatch into the kind of car you can drive every day without feeling like you’re suffering for the fun you have at the weekend.
Quite right too at this sort of money, you might reasonably say. Equally, when you spend forty-something on a hatchback you might well expect a multimedia system that makes sense straight out of the box, as well as build quality that leaves no room for doubt. Those, though, remain on the to-do list.
But these are minor gripes. What you really expect is searing performance, stunning agility and grip that bends your mind, and that’s what the A45 delivers. It was already brilliant, and now it’s more brilliant than ever.