Sensational ‘hot hatch’ has X-factor

Price: from $111,000
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder engine generating an astonishing 310kW. 500Nm
Transmission: automatic dual-clutch transmission. 4Matic all-wheel-drive system

Overview

There are a plethora of high performance ‘‘hot hatches’’ on our market, but few offer anywhere near the sizzle of the sensational Mercedes-Benz A Class AMG 45 S.

This scintillating compact five-door hatch is in a performance league of its own and a major driving force in this vehicle’s development.

Mercedes-Benz has created a 2.0-litre turbo-charged motor that’s the most powerful on the planet, with an output per litre of 155kW.

The new-generation Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic lifts the performance bar much higher than its hard-charging predecessor, with a full redesign, from the engine and transmission through to the body structure.

This isn’t a car for the fainthearted in terms of both performance and price. A $111,000 base-price sticker sees to that.

An optional AMG edition 1 package on the test vehicle pushed the asking price out to a whopping $119,000.

Even taking into account the phenomenal performance on offer, this is still a seriously large sum of money to outlay for a smallish hatch, albeit no ordinary one.

At the heart of this model is a milestone engine design achievement for Mercedes-AMG — a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine generating an astonishing 310kW of power and 500Nm of torque.

It has the perfect gear changing companion in a new automatic dual-clutch transmission ready to play hard and fast with eight ratios at

its disposal and gearshifts measured in milliseconds.

Incredibly quick off the mark and super-responsive right across the rev range, this is a genuine hard-wired performance hatch that lives up to all the hype around it and more.

A delightfully throaty sporty exhaust note provides the perfect soundtrack for one of the rock stars of the premium ‘‘hot hatch’’ scene.

Almost as impressive as the full-on performance is just how readily it adapts to the motoring mundane such as going to the local supermarket for the weekly shop.

This ‘‘hot hatch’’ will be one of the coolest customers in the supermarket car park.

The test car was impeccably finished. All the switches and controls for lights, wipers and indicators are easy to find and operate.

This is a compact luxury hatch with only adequate passenger and load space.

Onboard are all the standard comfort and convenience features expected in a range-topping luxury model.

Heading up the list is a top-quality surround-sound audio system, heated and electrically operated sports seats finished in smart two-tone leather with contrasting yellow top-stitching and ambient lighting featuring 64 colours.

Standard safety includes driving assistance package, active lane change assist and multi-beam headlights with adaptive high-beam assist, sparing the driver the tedious task of dipping the vehicle’s lights for oncoming open-road traffic at night.

The test car rode regally on imposing 19-inch alloys, while the driver is kept snug and comfy in AMG Performance Seats.

AMG’s Performance 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is standard.

With Dynamic Select, the vehicle characteristics can be tweaked by a simple touch of a button, resulting in the system setting about modifying the engine, transmission, suspension, steering and air conditioning to meet the driver’s preferences.

There are four driving modes, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Eco” and “Individual”.

This is technology that works and largely delivers on what it promises. You would expect — well at least I did — that ride quality would take a back seat in such a hyper-focused performance hatch.

To its credit, Mercedes has factored in enough bump absorbency ability to effectively manage invasive suspension noise and much of the abrasiveness associated with a suspension system tuned for optimum road-holding.

The handling like the performance is prodigious with levels of grip and traction from the suspension and 4WD system, that are next level and beyond.

Mercedes has pulled off a stunner to produce a ride and handling package worthy of this genuine X-factor performance hatch.


- Bob Nettleton

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