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Driven: Benz’s $75k A45 AMG arrives

A45 OMG: With a whopping 265kW from just 2.0-litres, the Mercedes A45 AMG's waiting list is already out to next year.

If you want a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, you’d better be ready to wait six months


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28 Aug 2013

THE current most powerful four-cylinder car on the road, Mercedes-Benz’s A45 AMG hatch, touches down in Australia on September 1 with a starting price of $74,990 plus on-road costs and a waiting list already six months long.

Remarkably, Australia is expected to be the third biggest market in the world for the car. Mercedes’ local arm will get its hands on between 250 and 350 A45s by December, with a greater allocation earmarked for 2014.

The popularity of AMG models Down Under gives Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific some clout with its global parent, with the company projecting a bigger chunk of the global allocation should be freed up for Australia in 2014.

The supply issue is not limited to the A45 AMG either, with the regular A-Class still commanding a waiting list, albeit one that has reduced in recent months.

It was six months at its peak, but this has come down to as little as three weeks: provided you steer clear of obscure options and colours.

The forthcoming CLA - essentially a sedan version of the A-Class - and GLA - a small SUV on the same platform again - are both expected to command similar wait times when they launch here in October 2013 and April 2014 respectively.

Australia is presently the top AMG market globally on a proportional basis - that is, the ratios of AMG variants sold here compared to regular Benz versions. This, the smallest AMG-tuned model, is pitched at a younger crowd, with the brand hoping to lure a predominately male audience aged between 30 and 45.

Reflecting the performance ‘bent’ of local A-Class buyers, around half of all sales so far - precluding early A45 orders - have comprised the hot A250 turbo, until now the range flagship.

Despite its initial popularity, supply will likely stop the A45 from overtaking the sales of its bigger C63 cousin, 750 units of which were sold here in 2012.

The Euro 6-compliant, hand-finished 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo engine (a Benz first) under the snub bonnet produces a stratospheric 265kW of power at 6000rpm and 450Nm of torque between 2250 and 5000rpm - enough for a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 4.6 seconds.

For the mechanically-minded, the engine includes spray-guided direct petrol injection via piezo injectors positioned centrally in the four combustion chambers with an injection pressure of 200 bar. Maximum turbo charge pressure is 1.8 bar.

Other features include a sandcast all-aluminium crankcase, weight- optimised crank assembly with forged steel crankshaft and forged pistons with friction-optimised piston rings, air-to-water intercooler, alternator management and idle-stop.

This gives it bragging rights over its arch-nemesis, the 4.9 second BMW M135i.

All Australian A45’s come standard with a raised electronic speed limited that doesn’t cut in until 270km/h. Despite our low speed limits, Benz says most buyers would have ticked the options box for this feature, so it became standardised.

Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. The front-biased 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system sends up to 50 per cent of torque to the (aluminium) rear axle if needed.

There are three driving modes that adjust pedal travel, engine note and gear-shift times: comfort, sport and manual.

The German brand designed the A-Class’ modular platform to accommodate AWD from the get-go, and the four-paw system under the A45 is said to be 25 per cent lighter than rivals.

Reining all 1550kg of kerb weight in are 350mm front and 330mm rear ventilated discs with standard red calipers.

Mercedes claims fuel consumption of just 6.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle – if you can keep your lead foot away from the throttle.

Despite having half the cylinders of its AMG brethren, Mercedes claims to have retained the signature throaty exhaust note found on models such as the C63 thanks to a sports exhaust system that adjusts outputs depending on driving style.

Suspension, electro-mechanical speed-sensitive power steering and the high-performance brakes have also been fettled by AMG.

The king of the A-Class range is differentiated externally from its more humble siblings by its aggressive front and rear diffusers, side sills, AMG ‘twin-blade’ radiator grille, matte grey front apron, black 19-inch alloy wheels, square chrome-tipped exhaust pipes and ‘Turbo AMG ’ lettering.

Inside the cabin are new additions including Artico artificial leather racing-style seats, a new multi-function, flat-bottomed (and topped) steering wheel with paddles, carbon fibre-look dash trim, red highlights on the seats, seatbelts and vents and a central multimedia display with race-timer.

Australian-delivered A45s will come with a higher level of standard equipment than in Europe, including a rorty AMG sports exhaust and an AMG Driver’s Package that increases top speed to 270km/h.

Further Aussie additions comprise adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive headlights, a panoramic sunroof, heated leather seats and top-spec COMAND infotainment system with satellite-navigation, internet access and Harman Kardon premium audio.

The options list only extends to three items: $4990 black alloy wheels, a $1990 aero package with front ‘flics’ (bits that hang off the front bumper), a large rear wing and a bigger front splitter, and a $1990 AMG performance suspension pack that adds an extra 40kg of downforce at 250km/h.

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