Super-hatch Showdown Part 1: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

Living in a city does have its advantages: there is a grocery store 5 minute away, a coffee shop downstairs, and you don't have to worry about driving home after a visit to a pub. Yet there are limitations in terms of what kind of car you can own, and that's where super hatch-backs from premium brands come in.

Back in July we have already looked at the brilliant new Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, which was displayed from the day it was announced in Japan at Mercedes Benz Connection in Roppongi

In the beauty of a showroom floor we went over various details of Edition One Model that was available in limited numbers and had additional visual and performance upgrades, such as AMG sports seats, aerodynamics and carbon fiber package, sports suspension and 19 inch black rims.

Today, we finally get to drive the A45 AMG, and not just the Edition One, but the standard version as well

In this review, we will go over some of the features of both standard and Edition One models, as I will try to depict some of the highlights of how it actually feels to drive that beast on the streets of Tokyo

We start with the design though.  When compared to the Edition One, the standard A45 looses the mad spoilers and stripes and becomes more similar to the standard A Class

The long wheelbase of the car is very noticeable from the side.  You cannot  disregard its practicality, as designers at Mercedes Benz did their absolute best to maximize interior space and at the same time, maintain such sleek lines that make this car stand out.

And speaking of sleek lines, entire lineup from A180 to A45 Edition One looks absolutely fantastic from any angle.  Considering the substandard looks of previous generations this car is a true leap forward in terms of design and innovation.

Of course, as with any recent models, designers at Mercedes had to place some identifying marks on the AMG version, such as the vents in rear bumpers and quad exhaust that produces absolutely astounding note accompanied by massive cracks and pops on up-shifts and lift offs, but more about that later.

AMG model comes standard with 5 dual spoke light alloy wheels wrapped in 235/40 R 18 Continental Sport tires...

...with massive 350 x 32 millimeters at the front and 330 x 22 millimeters at the rear ventilated brakes disks clearly visible behind.

The beautiful black 235/35 R 19 equipped on the Edition One are optional, but make the car look a lot more aggressive.

The headlights are also a distinct feature of the new A class, which are equipped with HID as standard as well as LED DRL's, position, and turn indicator.  Future revisions will most likely include optional LED headlights as the feature is rapidly growing in popularity.

The A45 AMG lets everyone know about its features through badges indicating all the bells and whistles, from turbo...

to drivetrain, to AMG brand, to model name and number - it's all there, just read it and weep!

All conveniently positioned on the back, as that's the part that most other drivers will be seeing.  Before I get to that part, however...

... let's have a look at the interior.  The moment you open the door, you are indeed treated to something special.  Inside of A45 AMG it is only available in black with red and aluminum accents. 

The cabin is ergonomic and is beautifully laid out.  The design is unique, but most Mercedes Benz owners will find themselves right at home with all switches and knobs at their usual places.  Edition One also features alcantara coated steering wheel, AMG sports seats and Edition One badge in the center.  A45 Base model comes with standard leather seats, which, to be honest felt very similar, but lacked the flair and the aluminum inlay and badging.

The sporty feel of the A45 cabin is undeniable with everything being driver orientated, but despite an odd plastic here and there there is plenty of luxury feel as well, with dash beautifully wrapped in leather accompanied with carbon-looking plastic trim. All the knobs and switches felt solid, and the car had all the features you can think of from parking and distance assists, to heated and powered seats, as well as HDD satellite navigation system, and optional premium stereo with 9 speakers.

A45 Maintains the practicality of a hatchback with plenty of space in the back...

...and a fairly substantial luggage space

That shopping day out is guaranteed to be fun and comfortable with soft leather seats underneath, mean sounding exhaust in the back and alcantara wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters controlling the twin clutch gear box in font.

Especially if that gearbox is mated with this monster of a four-banger producing 360 Horse Power and 450 N·m of torque, which can propel the 1480kg super hatch from 0 to 100 kph in 4.6 seconds!

Heat resistance and cooling are vital parts of this engine as extracting 180 horses out of 1L of displacement is a challenging task.  Extremely powerful turbos achieve that via race-car like 26 psi of boost.  Engineers had to manufacture special pistons and bearings that are similar to components found in diesel engines to ensure durability under so much pressure.

All of that combine for one of a kind driving experience.  Even though there is plenty of lag and not much happening at lower RPM, the remarkably quick 7 speed Speed Shift DCT gear box will be happy to find the right gear to shoot the car forward.  Hard acceleration will push you into comfortable AMG seats and they will hold your torso well positioned should you try throwing the car around some corners.

Having tried the car on wet as well as dry tarmac, there is virtually no difference as there is no sign of car loosing grip.  Car is certainly doing a lot of things as you test the laws of physics as it provides plenty of audible feedback through quite impressive concerto of automotive sound effects.  Burble of the exhaust, revs of engine, hissing of the blow-off valve, whistle of the turbo, and whining of 4matic system are heard at any given time depending on what car is doing and that just adds to the sensational feeling of driving this car.

With so many automobiles made with only comfort and usability in mind it is an absolute delight to get behind the wheel of one of these monsters and tear down the streets of Tokyo on Sunday morning.  I drove this car a few times around the same set of streets, but it never gets boring!

So there you have it, Mercedes Benz have created a true masterpiece of a hatch-back. 

It truly did borrow some of the best features from each Mercedes Benz model in terms of design and innovation,

as it created a true class of its own: The luxury sport super-hatch.

Cost of Ownership:
While the car itself is priced at premium level (think Lexus IS350 F-Sport), it does deliver plenty of bang for the buck.  Ownership should be fairly balanced with good fuel economy and small engine should be good on road taxes.  High pressure motor like this, however, would require frequent oil changes and I wouldn't expect those tires to last.

It's a hatch-back, which makes it synonymous with practicality. While it doesn't have the versatility of previous model, it can still be very useful.

Cabin Comfort
The Exhaust is only noisy during acceleration and gear changes so it would not bother passengers during long cruise.  Ride is firm, but not punishing.  If comfort is a priority I would recommend stock model with 18 inch wheels.

This is one of the best looking hatch backs out there.  The design has been carefully worked through to make it truly remarkable.  Despite its small body it has the true appeal of a Mercedes Benz.

Fun Factor
The car is an absolute blast to drive, but it does feel a bit on rails due to its very high grip.  Another-words, I don't even know how to drive it close to its limit, as it feels very technological and almost pre-programmed.  Nonetheless it accelerates like a bat from hell, goes through corners as it's glued to the road and makes absolutely astonishing noise, and if that's not fun, I don't know what is.

I would like to thank Mercedes Benz Connection Tokyo for letting me drive and photograph their cars.
Mercedes Benz A45 AMG is available from Mercedes Benz Japan starting from 6400000 Yen.

Thank you for reading everyone, please check part two featuring the BMW M135i!




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