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WRC for the Road: Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG

Founded in 1967, AMG was first known for designing and testing racing engines and also for developing upgrade packages for customers who wished for more performance from their standard Mercedes cars. Their popularity exploded with the introduction of the legendary AMG Hammer 500E in 1986, a W126 E-Class sedan fitted with a 360hp V8 engine. Mercedes-Benz fully acquired AMG in 2005 under the name Mercedes-AMG GmbH, owned by Daimler AG. AMG models typically have more aggressive looks, a higher level of performance, better handling, better stability and more extensive use of carbon fibre than their regular Mercedes counterparts. AMG aero, trim and handling packages can now be added to suit customers’ tastes if a milder combination is specified, while massive turbocharged V8 and V12 engines and big brake kits typically grace the wilder AMG-specific models. This brings us to the car at hand. For the first time in the company’s history extending back over more than 45 years, Mercedes-Benz’s performance brand is offering two compact, high-performance, all-wheel-drive road cars– powered by a class-leading 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, namely the A 45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG. // Zorce Classifieds: PDG (WHITE) FOR SALE


As we discovered, both new models provide an exciting introduction to the world of AMG. With an output of [email protected], the AMG 2.0-litre turbo engine is the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine in mass production. It is also exceptionally efficient and already meets the upcoming 2017 EU6 emissions standards, while averaging 33-34 mpg in the NEDC combined fuel consumption tests. Other technical highlights include an all-aluminium crankcase, weight-optimised crank assembly with forged steel crankshaft, and forged pistons with friction-optimised piston rings, Nanoslide cylinder wall technology, air-to-water intercooler, alternator management and an Eco-mode start/stop function.

With an output of [email protected], the AMG 2.0-litre turbo engine is the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine in mass production. "...the AMG 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine develops a peak torque of 332ft-lb, available from 2250-5000rpm


The quick-spooling twin-scroll turbocharger provides a swifter build-up of torque from lower in the rev range. With a maximum boost setting of 1.8 bar or 26.5psi, the AMG 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine develops a peak torque of 332ft-lb, available from 2250-5000rpm. As a positive side effect, twin-scroll technology also benefits fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.


Some purists argue that an AMG model should bear the wail of a tuned V12, the roar of a high-revving V8 or the snarl of a supercharged V6. We think that if they ever made a WRC car for the road, it would probably sound and behave like the A 45 AMG. Like all their engines, the new AMG 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine is assembled entirely by hand according to AMG’s traditional “one man, one engine” philosophy, as shown by the AMG engine badge bearing the signature of the responsible engine fitter.

With a conservative 0-60 time of 4.6s (we estimate 4.2-4.3s with Race Start) and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h, we weren’t missing the bigger engines at all. 


All the rips, cracks and the four-cylinder growl of the remarkable turbocharged engine shunting its power into the seven-speed dual clutch were more than enough to keep us smiling. Every gearshift became an event. With a conservative 0-60 time of 4.6s (we estimate 4.2-4.3s with Race Start) and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h, we weren’t missing the bigger engines at all. 


The big bore AMG sports exhaust system features an automatically controlled exhaust flap that reconciles the two apparently conflicting aims of tangible dynamic spirit and hallmark Mercedes comfort, and is quiet on long journeys. The flap is continuously adjusted by map control according to the power called up by the driver, load status and engine speed. The A 45 AMG is tuned to sound throatier than the CLA 45 AMG, which is expected to be a family car more of the time– lucky us. 

The AMG Speedshift seven-speed sports dual-clutch transmission features three modes, a double-declutching function and Race Start for optimum acceleration.


The AMG Speedshift seven-speed sports dual-clutch transmission features three modes, a double-declutching function and Race Start for optimum acceleration. The shift times in manual mode ‘M’ and in sport mode ‘S’ are sportier and quicker. Briefly and precisely interrupting ignition and direct fuel injection under full load leads to even faster gearshifts in ‘M’ and ‘S’, with a more emotive rally-style sound. In ‘C’ mode (Controlled Efficiency), tangibly soft transmission and engine characteristics support a fuel-efficient and comfort-oriented driving style, and the Eco start/stop function becomes active. 


Tug on the paddles at any time and you will engage a momentary ‘M’ mode, which eliminates the hassle of mode selection when the need arises. Of course, the Race Start function, activated at a standstill by going into Sport mode and tugging both shift levers to activate, then one to confirm, is limited to three consecutive runs to protect the transmission from overheating. Once you hit the gas, the front tyres chirp a few times then you get a massive shove from the rear wheels as power is instantaneously transferred. Then, you hang on and attempt to keep up with your shifting as the engine runs to redline.


Variable, performance-oriented AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive is fitted as standard. The power transfer to the rear powertrain is provided by a compact power take-off unit (PTU), which is fully integrated into the seven-speed sports DCT transmission. A two-part propeller shaft transfers the power from the AMG 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine to the rear axle. In the interest of favourable weight distribution, an electro-hydraulically controlled multiple-disc clutch is integrated with the rear axle differential. The multiple-disc clutch control detects slip at the front axle. A hydraulic pump instantaneously presses the discs together and channels the engine torque to the rear wheels as necessary. In normal driving, the car uses front-wheel drive for optimum fuel efficiency. When driving dynamics demand it, the variable AMG 4Matic all-wheel drive sends up to 50 per cent of the power to the rear wheels. 


AMG’s Electronic Stability Program offers three distinct driving modes– ‘ESP ON’, ‘SPORT Handling Mode’ and ‘ESP OFF’, allowing the driver to choose the level of intervention. ESP Curve Dynamic Assist is also included as standard. During dynamic cornering, imperceptible braking intervention on the rear inside wheel gives rise to a defined yaw moment around the vertical axis, resulting in precise cornering by the A 45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG, ensuring that the vehicle remains under control at all times. While many other manufacturers have opted to brake the inner front wheel, we think this ingenious system is more effective in fighting understeer, while allowing the front wheels to smoothly continue steering without hindrance.

The titanium grey AMG twin-spoke alloy wheels, fitted with 235/40R18 tyres are standard.


The McPherson front axle is fitted with stiffer steering knuckles and uprated bushings. The four-link rear axle is also completely new. The AMG sports suspension with specifically tuned spring/damper units and larger anti-roll bars provides for high lateral acceleration and minimal body roll in fast double bends. The titanium grey AMG twin-spoke alloy wheels, fitted with 235/40R18 tyres are standard. The AMG speed-sensitive sports steering enables high steering precision and agility without ever making the car feel cumbersome or nervous at any given speed. The AMG high-performance braking system with vented and cross-drilled brake discs all round provides for spontaneous and reliable deceleration.

On our drive, the A 45 AMG felt securely planted in the corners and was always very eager to turn, or do anything you asked of it for that matter. High-speed stability was excellent and the big brakes hunker down the car from triple digit speeds without a fuss. According to popular motoring journalist and racer Chris Harris: “It is magnificently, splendidly fast… It’s got that kind of point-to-point performance that we associate with Evos and Imprezas… It’s agile and just extracts performance from a road surface in a way that you don’t expect”. We completely agree. 

Because acceleration is effortless, you have to make it a point to remember that the speedometer displays mph and not km/h, so the higher numbers are really big speeds. 


In a straight-line quarter-mile run, our estimates of the A 45 AMG’s launch control attempts put it at around the 13.0-13.1s mark. This levels it with the Mitsubishi Evolution IX MR, the legendary Subaru Impreza STi 22B and closer to home, with the rear-wheel drive E63 AMG (the E63 AMG 4MATIC will run mid 11s). Because acceleration is effortless, you have to make it a point to remember that the speedometer displays mph and not km/h, so the higher numbers are really big speeds. 


As an automotive enthusiast, it’s also easy to forget that you’re driving a Mercedes-Benz when you’re in this car– there’s more than enough hot hatchery built-in. Because it is a bona fide Mercedes-Benz however, it doesn’t beat up on you the way a racecar or sports car would, and there is an admirable range of features, driver aids and amenities for the day you feel the need for peace and quiet, preferably with good company. The sound system is clear and covers a wide tonal range, making it easy for you to get your indirect serenade on and set the mood for later. 


The seats are comfortable, yet wonderfully supportive once you start attacking a winding road, except maybe for the non-adjustable headrests. They do however, feature apertures that will allow a racing harness to be fitted, should you wish to go to the track in the future. But that’s a small trade-off for all the positives about this genuinely fast, yet practical compact luxury car. The bigger trade-off, of course, is the price– you’re looking at around TT$560K and up, depending on how you configure it. Is the A 45 AMG worth the money in our market? Probably, considering that the sporty cars in the TT$375K-425K can’t match it for amenities, build quality or performance, whereas the A45 AMG can punch way above its price range. Contact Sterling Services (Battoo Bros.) Ltd. for more details. // Republished from Zorce Issue #23 © Zorce Publications Ltd. Special thanks to Karim Khan for keeping our featured car spiffy during our shoot! 

If you would like to consider a well-maintained, low-mileage example at an excellent price, click this link: Zorce Classifieds: PDG (WHITE) FOR SALE

Technical Specifications: Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG (hatchback)

Engine Power [email protected] (265KW)
Engine Torque [email protected] (450Nm)
Engine Displacement/Type 1991cc / M 133 - Direct Injection, Turbocharged, Intercooled 4-cylinder
Max. Engine Speed, Compression Ratio 6700rpm, 8.6:1
Transmission 7-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) w/manual paddle shift mode
Engine/Drivetrain configuration Front-engine, all-wheel drive  
Top Speed 155mph/250km/h (electronically limited)
Acceleration 0-100km/h 4.6 seconds
Standing 1/4-mile 13.3s (est by Car & Driver)
Maximum charge pressure (boost) 1.8 bar (26 lbs.)  
Fuel Type  Premium unleaded, 95 octane or greater  
Est. Fuel Consumption (Combined) 33-34mpg (7.1-6.9 l.km)
Emissions Standard EU6
Suspension (F/R) Front - McPherson Strut / Rear - 4-link independent
Brakes Front/Rear 13.8" vented, cross drilled, grooved disc, 4-piston (32mm thick, 12.2kg) / 13" solid vented, cross drilled, grooved disc, single piston (22mm thick, 7.2kg)
Wheelbase 106.3"
Fuel Tank Capacity 14.8 gallons, 56 litres
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3100 (1406 kg)
Wheels with tyres, front / rear 18" AMG alloy wheels, 235/40-18 all season tyres
Dimensions (length/width/height) 4359/1780/1417mm
Approx. starting price TT$560K+ (January 2014)

All the rips, cracks and the four-cylinder growl of the remarkable turbocharged engine shunting its power into the seven-speed dual clutch were more than enough to keep us smiling.

 

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