Mercedes-AMG decided their hot hatch needed to become a hyper-hatch so they gave it 415 hp (310 kW) which resulted in a 0 to 100 km/h sprint of 3.9 seconds. There is a less powerful non ‘S’ model but in South Africa, we are too power-mad to even consider it.
This manic turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder is connected to their eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to feed all that power to all four corners but the system is clever and can not only vary the power split between the front and rear wheels but also from side to side at the rear. Basically, that means the system can either boost traction and stability or, if you’ve decided to take your A 45 S onto a track, can encourage it to go nicely sideways and destroy some rubber.
The unit we got our hands on was an Edition 1 which means you get Sun Yellow paint, matte black 19-inch AMG twin-spoke alloys, an AMG aero package that includes a large roof-mounted spoiler, and AMG door decals. The interior features AMG high-performance seats and steering wheel in black Dinamica microfibre with ‘Edition’ badging, black/titanium grey upholstery with yellow topstitching and AMG brushed-aluminium trim. The rest of the standard features match those of the ‘regular’ Mercedes-AMG A45 S and include the Panamericana grille with AMG front apron, the quad 90mm exhaust tips and high-performance brakes.
Inside you will find a Burmester stereo, two 10.25-inch fully digital displays for the media system and instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB-C connectivity in front and rear and wireless phone charging all as standard. All of this makes for a very pleasant cockpit and in our opinion is the best in class.
So how is this little menace to drive? Well, let’s begin with the obvious, it is indecently fast. Engage launch control (which is uber-easy to do) and you are hurtled forward like few other cars of any type, let alone hatchbacks. What is more impressive is just how frantic it is when you simply plant your foot on the accelerator. Whether you are stationary or moving, there is the smallest hesitation before you rocket forward, firing through its gears swiftly yet smoothly.
We loved the fact that even though it is a turbocharged car, the power does not simply arrive all of a sudden. This engine absolutely loves to rev and the power is delivered in a linear fashion all the way to the redline. Yes it certainly does not sound as tasty as the five-pot in the Audi RS3 but it is fairly theatrical for a four-cylinder especially when you get the bangs and pops upshifting and downshifting on the paddles.
It is also very civilized when driven at a normal pace and on normal roads but we would have liked comfort mode to be a little more, well, comfier. Unfortunately, our roads are littered with potholes and uneven manholes etc. The adaptive suspension is rather firm so spend a lot of time in it and you may get a little bit frustrated in this hot hatch.
Currently, it is the most expensive hot hatch you can buy in South Africa with a base price of R1,144,000. Cop yourself an Edition 1 like this and you will need to part with as much R1,5m. To many, this is too expensive but car pricing in general (especially in South Africa) is running away from us all. This is a lot of car and so you expect it to cost a lot of money.
The new Mercedes-AMG A 45 S is more than a one trick pony. It is stupidly fast in a straight line, it is agile and grippy through corners and you can fit four adults in there quite easily. It will not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you want supercar performance in a clinical package that delivers straight line speed and hair-raising cornering, the A 45 S ticks all those boxes. If you are looking for something a little more engaging, you should probably look at some other offers in this price bracket.