Full disclosure: This is not a review.
Agreed, I drove it flat out. And I drove it for over 22km. But, during those 22km or so, it was the car doing its thing. I was more like a passenger; an excited one, yes, but a passenger, nonetheless.
This is the Mercedes A45 S AMG, and it is a full-blown, full-fat AMG unlike the A35 Sedan which is more a bridge between the natural, and the well, the supernatural. It costs Rs 79.50 lakh, ex-showroom, all India. And I drove this supernatural hatchback on the 11km Natrax high-speed track.
I hit 278kmph before exiting the first banking. And then I sat there, right foot buried into the carpet, watching the guardrail go by at warp speed, with the car and the track not even needing me to work the steering.
Under The Skin
Now before I tell you what that felt like, here’s a quick drill down on what makes the A45 S a supernatural being.
A four-cylinder engine the A45 might have, but this two-litre, turbocharged unit puts out a staggering 421bhp plus of power. The peak torque at 500Nm is even more astounding.
This powerhouse of an engine is then mated to an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, which sends power to all four wheels. Not in equal measure at all times, of course. But, the brain inside sends just the correct amount to the correct wheel to maintain organ shifting levels of grip.
Playing an equally starring role in this gripping story is the suspension. The car runs MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear. But, it’s the adaptive damping that gives the A45 S that extra bit of usability. One can slow down the damping to get a firmer setup for track use or have a more supple ride courtesy less restrictive, faster moving damping action.
And let’s not forget the steering. With barely two turns lock-to-lock it’s a fast reacting unit. And packed with a hint of heft to add that sporty, connected feel.
The Bells And Whistles
The Mercedes A45 S AMG might be governed by speed and performance and leech-like handling, but it is a Mercedes at the end of the day. And one that’s anything but affordable.
Not surprising then, it does come with a lot of bells and whistles. Electrically adjustable seats, multi-zone climate control, MBUX, a detailed multimedia system with Merc’s latest touchscreen, HUD, and a more evolved multifunctional steering.
Apart from the regular functions to operate the multimedia and the driver information system - and the cruise control - the steering of the A45 S also comes with a dial. It is your shortcut key to choosing the driving mode of your liking. From Comfort to Race, all it takes is a click to change how the engine, throttle, gearbox, suspension damping, and the ESP behave and react.
Then, of course, there’s a plethora of safety kit on board. Apart from six air bags, and ESP, and a fast reacting yet not intrusive ABS system, the A45 also gets features like automatic braking, blind spot recognition, and lane departure warning.
So, How Is It To Drive?
Fast. Very fast. And it also sounds great.
As for the bit I mentioned at the start about A45 S driving itself at 278kmph… well, that wasn’t entirely true. I was standing on the throttle pedal, after all. So, I was contributing.
But, that apart, it did feel like it did not want any other intervention from the driver. The A45 S on that Natrax high-speed track made 278kmph feel pedestrian.
It just sat there on the tarmac, tearing through the air, with nary a weave or hop or the need to make any sort of steering corrections. It made it look all too easy.
Not to give in, I dropped down a lane from the outermost one around the banked corner, to give the A45 S something to think about. The throttle pedal was still completely mashed.
Now, I needed to add a hint of steering correction to the left. I could now feel the A being pressed harder into the tarmac on the right hand side. And I could finally see the yellow dot on G meter move to the right.
I finally felt indispensable; like I was crucial to this 278kmph flat-out dance that the A45 S and I were involved in. And then, it was over. My two laps were done. My 22km stint around the Natrax high-speed track in the A45 S were history.
Pictures by Kapil Angane