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2022 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S road test review

Tuhin Guha Updated: January 17, 2022, 05:13 PM IST
When we first drove the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S a couple of months back, we were always going to be taken by its immense performance. But what stayed with us for longer was how the most powerful hatchback in the world had us riveted through what was otherwise a fairly straightforward high-speed run. But does the A 45 S continue to be this engaging out in the real world?

2022 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S driving impressions

This M 139 engine is still central to the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S experience away from the racetrack, as it should be in a true AMG. The 421PS and 500 Nm in S guise make it the most powerful 2.0-litre turbo engine ever fitted to a production car, and with its 211PS specific output, one of the most power-dense engines currently on sale. But these numbers are hardly a representation of the motor's best attribute, that being how easily it adjusts itself to any situation you might find yourself in with the A 45 S.

So while the fact that the engine is handbuilt the same way as the big AMG V8 and comes with an unending list of clever enhancements can make the whole affair quite intimidating at first, it couldn't be any further from reality. On our favourite set of twisties, the A 45 S was mesmerizing. Even though the hot hatch is probably too fast for any given stretch of your go-to driving road, its true genius is that it never makes you feel this way. Far from being lumpen and highly strung while carving through these tight, fairly technical corners, the A 45 S seems to egg you on with its poise and responses.

There's power throughout the rev-range, not dissimilar to a large naturally aspirated motor, which means that you can choose from any number of gears while entering a corner, at speeds that sometimes defy belief. And then there is the rest of the package to complement this. The A 45 S' front end feels sharp and communicative, nothing like your usual fast front-driven car. And the variable-ratio steering handily enhances this sensation, it quickens progressively and naturally without feeling twitchy, always feeling positive during small corrections or at heavier turn-ins. The 19-inch tyres aren't overly aggressive with their 245-section, which seems to help with these impressions.

The trick AWD system, especially in the more potent Sport+ and Race modes where up to 80 per cent of the torque can be sent to the rear, means that you will have to be really stupid before there's any hint of understeer. This system with its clutched rear differential keeps the hatchback pinned down around bends with its fine torque distribution, so the car always stays true to its line. And with the heavily reinforced body and the beefed-up suspension componentry, there's no real nervousness even around some of the tight, heavily cambered corners we put the small AMG through. Also, the A 45 S isn't too big in the larger scheme of things, even though it is probably the largest hatch you can buy in the country, which means that you can place the car confidently on the road and pick your best line.

The drama doesn't just end at the corners, the A 45 S' party trick is its top-end performance. The motor is already throwing up some serious power in the mid-range, but get past 5,000 rpm and the small AMG seems to explode out to its 7,000 rpm redline with a slightly synthesized but still raucous four-cylinder roar. If you can find yourself a long enough straight to experience this, you'll need immense willpower to not do it more than once, especially since the launch control program is so easy to engage.

And in all this excitement, the gearbox seems to fade away in the background. Which is a compliment more than anything else. The 8-speed AMG-tuned DCT is sharp and decisive with its shifts, always keeping you right in the thick of the powerband. You never really find yourself reaching for the paddles because the gearbox is already there before you've thought of it. It's also intelligent enough to serve up downshifts optimally and keep the engine fully boosted around bends.

But what truly makes this smallest of AMGs a great car is how it feels when you aren't dropping 4-second 0 to 100 sprints. On a city commute, the A 45 S feels as calm and usable as any other A-Class. Better still, in fact, because of how optimized the drivetrain is to reduce lag. So the AMG will amble around quietly in its Comfort setting, shuffling gears around to keep moving with no sense of the urgency it can summon up. The steering also slacks off to feel like any other Mercedes but we do think Mercedes-Benz India could have offered the adaptive dampers as standard on the India-spec car. The standard setup is great on smooth roads but causes the A 45 S to judder and twitch over uneven city streets.

Thankfully, most of this dies out as speed builds, where the A 45 S is again impressively refined on a steady highway cruise. The limited suspension travel means you will have to slow down over undulations, although with the performance on offer overtakes and holding speeds are a non-event. And inexplicably, the cherry on the cake happens to be that the A 45 S is actually quite an efficient car for what it is.

2022 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S interiors, exteriors, safety

As with any other Mercedes, the interiors of the A 45 S make for a special place. The general layout is the same as the regular A-Class but the AMG-specific enhancements work well. So you have the all-black theme with the carbon-fibre themed interior panels as well as swatches of suede on the seats, doors and wrapped around the perfectly sized AMG steering wheel. The AMG sports seats are a nice touch with their vast adjustment and the seat kinetic package but can become painful on a long highway stint. Anyway, there's enough room on offer for four adults and quite a sizable boot to go with it. There are most features you could think of in a car of this price but we especially like the AMG specific graphics and menus on the infotainment, the rotary steering switches and the large and informative head-up display.

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S also gets a fairly intuitive lane-keeping assist function over the rest of the A-Class range. It's never fully off despite there being an option but isn't too intrusive to be a bother. Other than this the emergency braking function and full airbag coverage are other safety highlights. But given the long, low snout and wide track of this car, a 360-degree camera would have been useful.

Those looking to make a statement won't have to try too hard with the A 45 S. The long nose and bubble-shaped profile, combined with the wide low stance means that the hatchback is an attention magnet out on our roads. The bright choice of colours complements this as does the exaggerated aero detailing all around the car. It isn't even too much pain over our speed breakers as long as you criss-cross over the larger ones.

2022 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S verdict, prices

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S may be the entry point to the full-fat AMG line-up but it could well be one the most engaging of these cars. Its biggest attribute is that with the amount of tech it packs and its traditionally compromised construction, it could have just been a numbers car. Far from it, the A 45 S manages to bring to you a vibrant driving experience, without going anywhere near a racetrack. It's a car that'll let you explore your limits as a driver with confidence and with none of the intimidation of the larger AMGs. It also happens to be efficient and largely attuned to the more mundane aspects of being a car. If this is the future of performance motoring, bring it on!

2022 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S real-world performance, mileage

Mileage

City - 8.67 kmpl
Highway -  11.07 kmpl
Overall - 9.27 kmpl

Performance

0 to 100 kmph - 4.1s
30 to 50 kmph - 0.8s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.0s
60 to 80 kmph - 1.2s

Braking

100 to 0 kmph - 37.6m, 2.6s

Images by Anis Shaikh

Also read,

2021 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S first drive review

2021 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S launched in India at Rs 79.5 lakh

2019 Mercedes-AMG A 45 and CLA 45 break cover, get most powerful production 2.0-litre motor ever

Image gallery: 2019 Mercedes-AMG A 45 and CLA 45

Mercedes-AMG reveals its most powerful four-cylinder engine ever with 421PS

Images by Anis Shaikh

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 79.5 Lakhs
Displacement
1991cc
Transmission
Automatic
Max Power(ps)
421
Max Torque(Nm)
500
Mileage
-NA-

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