Mercedes AMG A45S review

Even more of a ruckus maker

₹ 1,04,19,624

When the baseline is crazy, things can only get crazier from there. The baby-AMG that everyone loves to refer to as the “pocket rocket” has always been a hooligan and that hooligan has just had a spa treatment. A mid-life spruce up has resulted in sleeker LED headlights and tail lights along with a slight revision to the AMG grille up front. Nothing radical, nothing polarising, just a good ol’massage to keep the AMG A45S in peak condition.

Mercedes AMG A45S review: Tech

Step inside the properly low mounted drivers seat and the AMG sports bucket seats make you aware of your growing girth. The bolsters are aggressive and a reminder that you can carry some serious G’s through a corner behind the wheel of this car. You touch upon the partially alcantara-clad steering wheel and you realize that it’s all new too. Plucked from more expensive AMGs, the twin stalks with capacitive controls are a bit of a hit or miss, but the dials that offer quick changes to drive modes, suspension and exhaust tuning are fantastic to use on the move. Tactile and with a visual representation of the changes, it’s a lovely bit of tech designed to make life easier. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the capacitive panels that control the infotainment screen and all its navigation. The touch surface area is too small and the hit rate is low, making it easier to just prod the touchscreen with your fingers and get the job done faster. 

Sure, they’re easier to clean and look futuristic, but they aren’t for everyone.

The MBUX though is as slick and easy to use as ever. With plenty of customisable display modes, you can have a driver display that best suits your mood and driving style. Amongst the drive modes, you have the usual comfort, sport, sport plus and track, there’s a very useful individual mode that allows you to savour the pops and crackles from the exhaust while keeping suspension in comfort mode and the engine in sport. It gives you complete flexibility and comes in really handy while pottering around in the city while enjoying all the aural drama. 

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as wireless charging work smoothly and there are USB-C ports all around too.

ADAS features like lane keep assist, blind spot assist, park assist and the most feared (on our roads), automatic braking assist are present. If you’re living in a metro, the last one is best switched off every time you restart the car. But with a comprehension safety package and airbags, the already stiff A45S feels like a proper German tank. The Burmester audio, while having a great track record on other Mercs, just sounds average here. But strangely, it’s not even missed, because the drivetrain is the real hero here anyway!

MercedesG A45S review: Performance

Claiming to be the world's most powerful production 4-pot, the massive 415bhp/500Nm output of the A45S propels it to a ton in less than 4 seconds, even under the reins of an average driver. But it’s not just the big numbers that impress, but the way all that power is delivered. Turbo lag is barely perceptible in comfort mode but the moment you switch to sport plus, the 8-speed DCT grinds through the gears faster than a Hummingbird's wings and you’re kissing the horizon. The suspension is stiff, sure, but in our three days driving in and around the city, it never scraped its belly. Some of the nasty speedbumps had to be taken sideways, but thats about it. In fact, the more worrisome bit for elderly drivers would be the sports seats that are light on cushioning and coupled with the stiff ride, can end in a sore back after a long day of driving. Especially on less than perfect roads. There’s no massage or ventilation on the seats, but the front seats do get kinetics, which increase sensation on your back and bottom to prevent them from going numb.

We also miss the trackpad on the centre console which has been eliminated in the facelift without much benefit. There’s an empty storage area that’s too small and too shallow to serve any real purpose and while driving, prodding the steering wheel capacitive controls is an exercise in trial and error and reaching for a screen is utter distraction. Leave it in Sport Plus mode and open up the exhaust valves and you won’t need to touch the screen, just revel in the beautiful exhaust note that begs you to drive this hatch harder. The throttle response is super sharp, the steering is direct and weighty and this engine is probably one of the all-time gems. It just pulls like a freight train from 1700rpm upwards and plasters a smile on your face for the duration you’re behind the wheel. Grip is otherworldly from the low ride height and sticky 4WD which can send power to any of the wheels via torque vectoring or can be converted into a drift machine by activating the Drift Mode! Body roll is non-existent and it sits flat around the fastest corner you can find, giving you all the sensations you need.

MercedesG A45S review: Conclusion

Having driven the pre-facelift version on the Buddh International Circuit, we know what a capable hatch the AMG A45S is in Track mode, but this time, driving in the city showed its slightly mellower side and it’s a sports car you can live with. Not as a daily driver, but certainly the night drive or Sunday morning catch ups where you can keep the throttle pinned to the metal for more than 4 seconds at a stretch. It’s not cheap for a hatch, but then it’s hardly a hatch in its power numbers.

Stuff Says

The only real hot hatch on sale in India and worth every penny if you can afford it!
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Aging well and superb stance

  1. Handling and grip is phenomenal

  1. All the tech you need is present

  1. Stiff and uncomfortable seats

  1. Capacitive buttons on the steering

  1. Expensive on-road citing the competition

Engine: 4-cyl turbo
Power: 415bhp/500Nm
Drivetrain: AWD
Transmission: 8-speed DCT
Acceleration: 0-100kmph in 3.9secs
Wheels: 245/35 R19