The decision to etch that revered AMG moniker on the pert rump of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class could have backfired.
Those three letters create big expectations; of Herculean power, a thunderous eight-cylinder musical composition and tail-sliding mirth.
But while the A45 delivers its thrills in a way different to the characters of its bigger V8 brothers, there is no doubting the verity of its status as a true AMG.
The German wunderkind’s impressive credentials will have buyers especially smug at the traffic lights.
It’s armed with a quartet of cylinders; whose lungs benefit from a high-pressure turbocharger. The resulting performance humbles pricier machines, with greater outputs. Something we put to the test on the straights of the Phakisa Freeway circuit in Welkom. Expect to win many David and Goliath type battles.
What is remarkable is that Mercedes-Benz has managed to extract this much power from a two-litre mill reliably. This engine is a bastion for the current trend of downsizing and employing forced induction. It’ll kick most V8-powered beasts in the groin: but your conscience will be soothed by the fact that it meets the EU6 emissions standards, which only takes effect in 2015.
Crackle and snap
An ominous bass-filled rumble portends to the beast-slaying ability that lies beneath. The A45 likes to let rip between gear upshifts – belching like a fat bulldog after a big meal.
You could describe the aural side as a symphony of filthy-sounding snorts, chortles, crackles and pops. This put us in mind Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari; albeit a lot more intense.
Unseasonably wet weather in Welkom meant we got to test the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. Not perturbed by the moist floors, the Benz struck like greased lightning in a straight-line dash against an Audi RS5 (2013) and a fettled BMW 650i (2009). It was murderous.
Be sure to finesse the AMG through the corners. We found it less fluid and less pliable than other vehicles subjected through our Phakisa track tests, like the Opel Astra OPC and Subrau BRZ. Careful pedal modulation and calculated inputs, rather than a gung-ho, heavy-footed attitude are needed to keep habits of understeer quelled.
Power to the people
We know that top-tier German machines seem to garner contemptuous stares. But this performance underdog had the affections of all passers-by. Reverential bows, curious smiles and thumb-up salutes showered the baby AMG.
And the price – for the amount of performance you get – appears fairly reasonable at R599 500. Until you see the amount of kit you actually get as standard. Which is not much. Our test unit had the Edition 1 Package (R69 000). This adds racy bucket seats, a wicked rear spoiler, light-alloy wheels in black, a meaner body-kit with sharper aerodynamic bits and matte stripes. The package makes it looks like a DTM track-fighter.
Mercedes-Benz aims their little speedster at high-flying 30-somethings. Its biggest threats are the Audi S3 Sportback and BMW 135i M. But let’s remember the cachet of the AMG sub-brand and the huge novelty factor in a Mercedes-Benz hot hatchback with a 0-100km/h time below five seconds.
The Technical Stuff:
Model: 2013 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
Price: R668 500
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged
Power and Torque: 265kW and 450Nm
Fuel Consumption: 13l/100km
Test Mileage: 780 kilometres