Mercedes-Benz reveals hot new hatchback

Last updated 09:55 14/02/2013
Mercedes-Benz's hot new hatch, the A45 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz's hot new hatch, the A45 AMG.

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Mercedes-Benz has instantly raised the performance stakes in the toughly fought hatchback ranks with the unveiling of its keenly awaited A45 AMG.

Click photo to check out more views of the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

Pictured here for the first time in a series of official photographs, the rapid hatchback is planned to make its public debut at the Geneva motor show early next month.

The A45 AMG represents Mercedes-Benz's first serious foray into the premium hot hatchback market, where it will face stiff competition from the likes of the BMW M135i hatchback and an upcoming second-generation Audi RS3 Sportback.

Powered by a highly tuned turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developed by AMG, the four-wheel-drive A45 AMG is claimed to storm to 100kmh from standstill in just 4.6 seconds – straight line performance that makes it 0.2 seconds faster than the Porsche 911 Carrera in the benchmark sprint. Top speed is limited to 250kmh.

The A45 AMG is the first car from Mercedes-Benz's AMG performance car division to boast a transverse engine layout, as opposed to the longitudinal engine layout of all its existing models.

Confirmation of the new car's mechanical package in combination with the first official pictures also sheds light on a trio of upcoming sister models to the A45 AMG, including the CLA45 AMG due to make its world premiere at the New York motor show in March, the GLA45 AMG planned to be shown at the Frankfurt motor show in September and CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake (sporty-looking wagon) that is tentatively scheduled to make an appearance at next year's Geneva motor show.

Central to the A45 AMG's blistering performance is its new turbocharged petrol engine, which is described as the most powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit to ever see service in a series production road car. The four-valve-per-cylinder unit is a development of the similarly specified engine used by the A250 Sport, although little of the standard unit remains. 

Among the A45 AMG's engine developments is a new twin scroll turbocharger, spray guided direct injection with piezo injectors, an optimised aluminium crankcase, forged aluminium pistons and a cooling system similar to that used on the flagship SLS AMG – Mercedes-Benz's signature gullwing coupe and roadster pairing.

Accompanying the A45 AMG's various engine upgrades is a complex exhaust system that uses a flap that continuously adjusts according to throttle loading to alter the exhaust note.

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Power peaks at an impressive 265kW - some 110kW above the standard engine - to provide AMG's keenly awaited entry level model with a specific power output of 133kW per litre. Torque has also increased by a considerable 150Nm, swelling to 450Nm on a band of revs between 2250 and 5000rpm.

By comparison, the BMW M135i hatchback's turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine delivers 235kW and 450Nm, while the Audi RS3's turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol powerplant kicks out 250kW and 450Nm.

With a claimed 0-100kmh time of 4.6 seconds, the A45 AMG betters the rear-wheel-drive M135i hatchback's time by 0.5 seconds, while matching that of the now discontinued RS3.

Despite its rabid performance, Mercedes-Benz claims impressive economy for its new hatchback charge. With features such as automatic stop/start and brake energy recuperation, it boasts official combined cycle consumption of 6.9L/100km, equating to an average CO2 emission figure of 161g/km.

The A45 AMG is distinguished from the A250 Sport by a series of unique design elements. Among them is a new twin blade grille and splitter within the low edge of the front bumper, both painted in matt grey. It also receives small spoilers on the outer edges of the front bumper to aid the flow of air to the cooling ducts for the engine bay and front brakes.

Further visual changes to the exterior include “TURBO AMG” lettering within the front flanks, widened sills underneath the doors with matt grey highlights to match those up front, a rear bumper with air vents on each side, prominent diffuser to smooth air flow under the rear and two trapezoidal shaped chromed tailpipes.

Channelling the A45 AMG's solid reserves is a beefed up version of the A250 Sport's seven-speed dual clutch gearbox with remote steering wheel mounted shift paddles. It receives three driving modes: C (controlled efficiency), S (sport) and M (manual, as well as a race start function and throttle blip feature on downshifts. AMG describes the shift times in M and S modes as being similar to those experienced in the SLS AMG.

Drive is apportioned to all four wheels via an electro-hydraulically operated multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system. The new system, which will be made available as an option on selected A-Class models in certain markets, is claimed to be up to 25 per cent lighter than rival systems owing to a design that sees the multi-plate clutch housed within the rear axle assembly.

The division of drive between the front and rear axles varies continuously. In normal commuting the A45 AMG is driven primarily by its front wheels, but in more dynamic driving it sends up to 50 per cent of the drive to the rear wheels for added traction.

The A45 AMG is underpinned by a heavily reworked version of the A250 Sport's MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension. It is imbued with new steering knuckles, a revised subfame rigidly attached to body structure at the rear for higher camber stiffness, larger diameter anti-roll bars  and what AMG describes as thoroughly revised elastokinematic properties, including firmer springs, dampers and bearings. An even more sporting set-up, details to which are yet to be made official, will be made available as part of a comprehensive list of options. The standard 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels come shod with standard 235/40 profile rubber, with larger 19-inch rims with lower profile 235/35 rubber a further option.

The steering is by way of revised version of the A250 Sport's electro-mechanical system. It receives unique tuning, providing it with added weighting and a more direct 14.5:1 ratio for what AMG's head of development, Tobias Moers, describes as added sharpness and response. Reining in the new car's considerable performance is a beefed up braking system featuring 350mm front and 330mm rear vented and cross drilled steel discs.

-Fairfax News Australia

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