IS THE MERCEDES BENZ AMG A45S THE BEST HOT HATCH CURRENTLY ON SALE?

Say hello to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG A45s. Yes, I know the headlines on top is claiming to answer a controversial question. The hot-hatch territory was usually for the budget brands to play in until the premium manufacturers decided they want a piece of the pie. The hot-hatch segment has become crowded now. There is the Yaris GT, Civic Type-R, the 2022 Audi RS3, VW GTi, Renault Megane RS, and I am sure I lost many more in the count here. With prices at the AED 300,000, $81,000 mark or INR 95 lakhs (ex-showroom), you have entered Porsche Cayman/Boxster, BMW M2, Alpine A110 territory.

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OH WOW! THAT IS QUITE A BIT OF MONEY. WHAT DO I GET IN RETURN?

Only the most powerful and complicated 2.0-litre turbo engine made to date. Yes, the A45s boasts about having the most powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged series production engine to date. Mercedes has gone to great lengths to be able to achieve this type of performance. Speaking of performance, here are the actual number for you to marinate your mind in, 421 HP, 0-100kph in 3.9 seconds, 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and 500Nm of torque. All the above numbers while maintaining emission and sound pollution regulations. Did it blow your mind, or was it too fast for you?

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You can get the A45 in two trims, the A45 and the A45s. The S variant comes with 34 more HP than the regular one. When you are buying a car like this, go for the S version. Full fat over skimmed any day, right?

The A45 is a properly complex piece of kit. The engine is rotated by 180 degrees for better performance, packaging and aerodynamics. Because of this, the heat buildup in the engine bay is high, so to manage this, Mercedes has come up with a unique cooling solution. The turbo is water, oil and air-cooled. It even has three water pumps. The turbochargers have been designed to manage airflow for both low and high RPMs so that you do not find the engine laggy. The 8-speed dual-clutch transmission is super quick, snappy and responsive. The A45 comes with a 4WD with a proper 50:50 split power ratio. During spirited driving, the power is sent to the back wheels for that engaging driving experience. At the rear, it can send 100% power to either wheel to maximise grip, performance and help you find your way out of a tricky situation. Obviously, the car has electronic software trickery coming into play to manage all the hardware to manage all of this.

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The exteriors come with the aggressive Panamericana grill, which suits its flat shark-like nose. The optional aero-kit can be added to the car, which ads fins everywhere and a giant rear spoiler. These are not functional but look proper boy racer type ( I love it). Do not go for the aero kit if you plan to buy the car in a subtle paint scheme. But if you are planning to buy it in a yellow or red or something bright and funky, get the aero-kit and the graphics on the car. I love the OTT styling. Boy racer or stealth mode, whichever you choose, the car looks good.

IMO you get a lot of performance and innovation for your money. My biggest concern with all the hardware and software innovation is longevity. How will this car fare 10-15 years from now? I live in the desert, with temperatures reaching 50 Celcius for almost four months of the year. Humidity comes into play too. I am sure Mercedes has thought these things through, but only time will tell what happens.

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OKAY, HOW DOES IT HANDLE?

Well, if you read above, you can see that it has a 4WD drive system. It also has various driving modes such as Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race. You can even get it with Drift Mode.

On highways, it will cruise effectively and be steady, slicing through the air with the aerodynamic efficiency of a bird. It is comfortable and relaxing on the daily commute.

But if your daily commute has roundabouts, meandering B-roads, curves or anything that looks like an S, C or Z, you are in for a treat because that is what the AMG A45s does best.

The steering is super accurate, precise and responsive. It is slightly light and adds weight to the rack in different driving modes; however, the feedback remains the same. Do not see this as a negative because this is precisely what helps it be a practical highway cruiser.

Point into a corner, the car will dive in, and when you accelerate out, the computer sends the right amount of power to the outside rear wheel, making sure you are pointed in the right direction.

 

ARE THE INTERIORS AS GOOD AS EVERYTHING ELSE?

Mercedes has not spared innovating with the interiors as well. You get these handsome and good looking sport seats, which are comfortable and easy to get in and out. It is interesting to see how much character a chair imparts to the interior of the car. The seats are electronically adjustable but only partially from the door controls. The lumbar support is controlled via the MBUX system. More on that later.

 

The steering fabric and roofline are made from Dinamica Microfiber. The steering is the handsome AMG steering wheel which is one of the best on the market. It is pretty much as perfect as a steering wheel can ever get. Build quality and materials are pretty much the best out there. I got into the A45 after driving a competitor's product and immediately sensed how much better put together the Merc was. Even though the A45 was smaller than other German, the door closed with a satisfying "thunk", making me smile.

 

It has ample space for four adults and their luggage.

There is a lot of AMG badging inside and yellow trim on the seats, seatbelts and dashboard, which visually never lets you forget you are in an actual AMG car.

The MBUX.......this can either be a huge rant or an enormous flattering paragraph depending on how you like fiddling with the multiple screens, touchpads, touch screens, touch steering or voice activation. Yes, the MBUX can be controlled in all the above ways making it even more complicated. If you like multiple screens, menus, submenus and hyper adjustability and customisation, then this is probably the best infotainment on the market for you. If you want to get in and drive, then this is perhaps the worst one. Which side are you on? Take your pick. I belong to the latter. I get in, connect my phone via Apple CarPlay and drive. I could not be bothered by adjusting and readjusting every submenu. The voice activation is super intrusive and chimes every time you use the "M" word. I had to do multiple retakes while making the video.

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NOW I AM CONFUSED. SHOULD I BUY IT OR NO?

MBUX aside, the Mercedes-Benz A45s AMG is a phenomenal car to drive. It is engaging, relaxing, comfortable, and fast while willing to make the school run, mall run, etc. Yes, it is on the pricier side, but no other car on the market compares. In a market where the hot hatches have grown up, the A45, while growing up, has retained its exuberance of younger days while getting the refinement of maturity. Your turn Audi RS3.

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