Top 10 2013: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

IN 2013, the hot hatch not only reached puberty, it grew biceps the size of Popeye’s and had its nipples pierced. All thanks to the A45 AMG – surely the most unlikely Mercedes-Benz product of all time. And one of its best.

Long gone are the days when you could rely on an AMG to nail the straights, but not necessarily the corners. The A45 can do both. Thanks to a bratty sports exhaust system that is standard on all Aussie cars, and a launch-control function that fulfils every WRC fantasy, the A45 ignites from a standing start in a fashion Subaru STis and Mitsubishi Evos could only dream of. Four-point-four seconds later, you’re doing 100km/h; the 400m mark flashes by in 12.6sec. And here we were thinking a hot-hatch is quick if it can sneak into the 13s…

Equally as thrilling, though, is the A45’s cornering ability. Looking at its on-paper stats, you’d think a best-case torque split of 50/50 wouldn’t be enough to engender excitement, let alone handling poise, yet the A45 strings it all together like finely woven fabric, especially when being thrown from one direction to another, transferring weight onto its outside rear tyre for laughably thrusty corner exits.

Only on a fast racetrack like Phillip Island does the A45’s dynamic repertoire introduce understeer, though if track days are your thing, tick the $1990 sports suspension box. With 20 percent stiffer springs, front-end push is dissolved and the A45’s poise becomes sublime. Don’t know about its country-road ride though… That said, like just about every RS-badged Audi, the A45 often rides better than its lesser brethren. It’s definitely no magic carpet, but compared to an 18-inch-wheeled A-Class on sports suspension, the stock A45 is almost comfortable. Likewise its terrific sports front seats with electric bolsters, its flat-bottomed, Alcantara-clad steering wheel, and that blurting, braaping sound from its exhaust. Downshift and back off simultaneously, or short-shift under a steady throttle load and you can actually play tunes with it.

What the A45 isn’t is an older person’s car. It’s even less attuned towards urban comfort than the C63, yet it’s an entirely liveable superhot-hatch if firmly suspended cars are your thing. And at $74,990, it’s a relative bargain.

Think about that for a minute – a top-spec Evo for $66K or an A45 for $75K? In our opinion, no contest. That’s also the reason why we haven’t compared the A45 against a BMW M135i – the AMG would smash it. All hail the new hot-hatch king.

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