Caught in the classifieds: 2015 Mercedes Benz A45
The year is 1995. Ferrari has just unveiled the F355, one of the quickest supercars of its time. Its 3.5-litre V8 develops a mighty 375 horsepower, making it one of the fastest cars in the world. Fast forward exactly twenty years to 2015, and we arrive at Mercedes and their unveiling of the A45 AMG, a fire-breathing hot-hatchback that puts the F355 to shame in every way imaginableÖ well, almost every way.
In this weekís ďCaught In The ClassifiedsĒ section, Iím highlighting one of the craziest cars Mercedes have built to date, the A45 AMG. This particular example has 43,000 miles on the clock and costs a shade under £20,000, making it the ultimate supercar killer for people on a Ďtightí budget. Is it as exclusive as a Ferrari? Of course not, but itís amazingly exciting in its own way.
The third-gen W176 A-Class is a massive departure from the old W169-gen car. Itís much more exciting to look at because itís slimmer, lower, and wider. Whatís more, it doesnít have the same tendencies to drive like a bus on stilts because it sits on Mercís new platform, a platform the A-Class now shares with most other FWD/AWD siblings like the Mercedes CLA and the Mercedes GLA.
Itís a really good-looking car too. When it first came out it proved to be a massive success for Mercedes, especially among younger buyers. With the hot-hatch segment booming, Mercedes decided they wanted their slice of the pie, so they came up with this: the A45 AMG.
Officially one of the nuttiest hatchbacks ever made, it exudes character and presence from every angle. Donít think for a minute this is a normal Mercedes thatís been given a light AMG package either. Oh no, this is a full-blown AMG car built by the crazy boffins over at Affalterbach.
To help distinguish it from a regular A-Class theyíve given it a wider body kit, an aggressive front bumper full of openings and canards, a rear bumper with quad exhaust tips, and a massive roof-mounted spoiler. This particular example has the optional AMG stripes running down the door sills and the left side of the bonnet. Itís shouty and in-your-face, so it wonít be everyoneís cup of tea, but I like the fact it makes the A45 stand out that much more. If youíre not that keen on it, you can find examples without it which are just as good.
I donít have a lot to say about the A45ís cabin because itís, for the most part, a regular A-Class inside. Changes include sportier bucket seats, a changed instrument cluster to accommodate how quick this thing can go, and the mandatory AMG badges scattered throughout the cabin. Truth be told, itís a really nice place to spend time in, but donít expect C or E-Class levels of luxury.
Some of the materials are a bit cheap and it does have the occasional odd squeak or rattle, but itís nothing you wouldnít expect on a hot-hatch based on a regular A-Class. The seating position is superb though. In their lowest setting, the seats are extremely close to the floor, giving you this amazing connection with the car. Theyíre plenty supportive too, much more supportive than what youíd find in an Audi S3 or a BMW M135i.
Elsewhere, you get a decent-sized second row which can accommodate two adults with ease and a boot thatís big enough for all of your weekly shopping. The point is, the A45 is just a regular A-Class in terms of practicality and usability. From an interior standpoint alone, itís not that different from an A160d for instance, and thatís a really good thing.
Engine and Performance
When the A45 made its debut, most hot hatchbacks were pushing out roughly 300 horsepower. At the time, that seemed like an insane amount of power for a small hatchback. Given this was Mercedesí first venture into the world of small hot hatchbacks, we were expecting something special, but no one saw the A45 AMG coming.
Mercedes really did pull out all the stops to make sure they not only produced a viable hot-hatchback candidate but completely dominate the segment outright. The A45ís 2.0-litre four-cylinder is heavily turbocharged, producing an almighty 360 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds, and flat out itíll do a limited 155 mph. Just for reference, that Ferrari F355 I mentioned at the beginning will do 60 mph in 4.7 seconds in ideal conditions, 0.2 seconds slower than the A45.
Whatís more, because the A45 uses a 7-speed DCT gearbox to send power to all four wheels via a Haldex AWD system, it can match that 0-60 run time and time again. In many ways, the A45 feels like a mini Nissan GTR. Power delivery is brutal, it has a really aggressive launch, and the way it can extract grip from any surface is remarkable.
On a damp A or B-road, I donít think a C63 will see which way the A45 went. The little AMG isnít purely a straight-line machine either. The chassis is well-sorted and neutral, with some understeer tendencies tuned in for safety as you get closer to its limit. Unless youíre on a track, you wonít get anywhere near the A45ís limits on the public highway, itís that quick.
The Haldex system is so much better compared to the one found in the RS3, mainly because it allows you some throttle modulation and it seems to be a lot more effective at sending power to the rear wheels. Ultimately, it still feels FWD-biased, but itís playful and enjoyable. The steering doesnít provide a ton of feedback, but itís precise and sharp, allowing you to place the car anywhere you want to.
Model: Mercedes A45 AMG
Trim: 4Matic Auto
Why buy one
I guess you could argue that the A45 doesnít make much sense in todayís world, and youíd probably be right. Itís a lot of money for what is, in essence, an A-Class on steroids, and it doesnít have pedigree like the C63 does. Its interior wonít wow you nor will it amaze you with brilliant fuel economyÖ and yet, when youíre behind the wheel of an A45, you canít help but giggle like a little child. Itís so absurd that a car like the A45 exists, that it makes it incredibly special and unique in its own way. Thereís something about an extremely fast hot-hatchback, being able to show a clean pair of heels to C63s and M3s, that I find particularly appealing, and I think you will too. So, what are you waiting for? Head to DesperateSeller.co.uk right now for one of the biggest selections of used Mercedes Benz A Class cars for sale.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 8 out of 10
View the car here: 2015 Mercedes Benz A Class - £18,500