Now THIS is what a hot hatch should be.
If you want to lust over the latest piece of American unobtanium during this 4th of July, then here's something nibble on. It's the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, not a hotted-up version of the A-Class sedan we get stateside but the five-door hatchback Europeans get, those lucky baguette- and schnitzel-eaters.
Like the new AMG CLA 45 that we do get here, its hallmark feature is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged M139 powerplant that makes 416 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque (though ours is the detuned non-S version M139 that makes 382 hp and 354 lb-ft torque), which is a solid 80 hp and 74 lb-ft boost over the AMG A35 hatchback currently on sale across the Atlantic. Also like the American CLA 45 is the A45 S' 8-speed dual clutch gearbox that improves upon the 7-speed dual clutch in the A35 as well as the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel-drive system that features AMG's Torque Control system.
Funnily enough, it's the life-or-death battles that make life feel worth it, not the monotonous pursuit of the means of living, like food, water, and a decent job. Mercedes aims its 4MATIC system at those who want both, enabling hot-hatch lovers to milk the best lap time out of a well-controlled A45 S that sends just the right amount of torque to each axle and each rear wheel using a dual multidisc clutch system or choose outright anarchy by turning on the rear-wheel-drive-only drift mode.
While a thoroughly revised air ride adjustable suspension system enables better control when pushing the A45 S over the edge, one of its more unique upgrades consists of a reinforced body shell that increases torsional rigidity and in turn, enables a more connected feel to the road when steering. If the plunge over the edge of the A45 S' limits gets too intense, high-performance brakes (designated as such with AMG lettering on the calipers) bite hard and bring sanity back into the picture.
The exterior and interior have also been upgraded, with the hatchback featuring a "shark nose" front end, an aerodynamically-enhanced hood, and a wider front fender with flared wheel arches. The interior does its dual duty of ensuring a distraction-free drive and pampering its occupants when too many driving points rack up on the license and calmer driving is required. It does so by offering such niceties as MB-Tex and Dinamica microfiber upholstery that's accented by chromed air vents and topped off by an AMG steering wheel and Mercedes' MBUX infotainment software that's displayed on the outward of the two 10.25-inch screens.
What's interesting about this AMG A45 S is that it comes with the letter "S" after its name as well as the 416 horsepower we know the M139 engine is capable of, which is not something our AMG CLA 45 gets. That leaves open the
certainty possibility that an even more powerful version of the CLA 45 S sedan will hit the Americas before too long. Start looking into EU visas if the hatch is the car you'd rather have.
Live shots by Brian Smith (www.bms-photo.com; Instagram @bms_photo)