Awesome Alternatives To the Mercedes-AMG A45
The Mercedes AMG A45S is a crazy little hatchback, but is this the best hot hatchback money can buy?by Dim Angelov, on
The Mercedes AMG A45S is currently the hottest hatchback you can buy. We already covered how it stretches the definition of a hot hatchback. In fact, the AMG A45S is more of a super hatchback than anything else. Although its 421 horsepower, combined with all-wheel-drive and a quick-shifting DCT makes for a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.7 seconds, you can’t neglect the steep price tag of $72,752. This begs the question, what are the alternatives? Luckily there are some, and here they are.
VW Golf R has always been a strong competitor in the hot hatch segment. In its eight-generation, the car now makes 320 horsepower (239 kilowatts) and 310 pound-feet (420 Nm), from its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. This allows for a 4.5-second sprint to 60 mph, which is not that far off the A45S. It’s worth noting that the Golf R takes just 0.3 seconds more to reach the quarter-mile, despite having 100 horsepower than the “Merc”.
|Engine||2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four|
|0 to 60 mph||4.5 seconds|
The big difference is in pricing. The VW Golf R starts at around $42,000, which means plenty of change for upgrades. Moreover, there are plenty of professional tuners, both in Europe and the US, such as APR and HPA, who specialize in Volkswagen-Audi Group products. This means you can make your Golf R quicker than the AMG A45S and still have money to spare. In addition, Golf R is more generous in terms of interior space and cargo capacity.
Read our full review on the Volkswagen Golf R
The fourth-generation Focus is already on sale, but sadly it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be an RS version. If you want the all-wheel-drive rally-inspired Focus, you’ll have to settle for the already discontinued third-gen. That said, if you are lucky, there might still be a few at the dealerships. In any case, with a price of around $37,000, the Focus RS sounds like a bargain, at least compared to the AMG A45S. As with the Golf R, there are plenty of specialists such as Mountune, who will be happy to unleash the full power of the 2.3-liter Eco Boost inline-four.
Stock, the car makes 350 horsepower (261 kilowatts) and 325 pound-feet (440 Nm), which allows for a 4.5-second sprint to 60 mph. The top speed is 165 mph (266 km/h), which is only slightly lower than the A45S’ 168 mph (270 km/) top speed. The A45S has the least interior and cargo space in the segment, which means the Focus is also the more practical solution, in addition to being much more affordable. You will have to settle for a relatively cheap and outdated interior, though. It’s also worth noting that the Focus RS comes with a manual only, although many would view this as a good thing.
|Engine||2.3-liter Eco Boost inline-four|
|0 to 60 mph||4.5 seconds|
|Top Speed||165 mph|
Read our full review on the Ford Focus RS
One of the latest and most controversial alternatives to the AMG A45S is the BMW (F40) M135i, which sadly isn’t offered in the US. With the F40 generation, the Bavarian carmaker took their entry-level hatchback in a slightly different direction. Or rather, they took it in the same direction as their rivals. The switch to a front-wheel-drive and the transversely-mounted engine may have freed more interior space, but it also has also made the BMW 1-series just another hatchback, as opposed to the fun rear-wheel-drive hot hatch it used to be.
That said, the BMW M135i is still a cheaper alternative to the A45S. UK prices start from £37,700, which equates to around $52,500. Its 2.0-liter turbo-four produces 306 horsepower (228 kilowatts) and 332 pound-feet (450 Nm), which allows for a 4.6-second sprint to 60 mph (97 km/). With that being said, it might not seems as much of a bargain, once you decide to enhance the performance of the M135i, in order to match the A45S. However, you do get slightly better practicality at a more attainable price, but that’s about the only thing the M135i has going for it.
|0 to 60 mph||4.6 seconds|
Read our full review on the BMW M135i
On paper, this is the closest car to the AMG A45S, at least performance-wise. Although the Audi RS3 sedan has been available in the US for a while now, that’s not the case for the hatchback. This will change towards the end of 2021, however. What makes this alternative unique is that it may very well be the last Audi to use the glorious 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five engine. Currently, it develops 400 horsepower 298 kilowatts) and 354 pound-feet (480 Nm). Combine that with all-wheel-drive and a DSG gearbox, and you get a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds – almost on par with the Mercedes AMG A45S.
At a $56,200 starting price, the Audi RS3 is significantly more affordable than the Benz. Surprisingly, cargo capacity is a bit less than the A45S at 11.8 cubic feet (335 liters) vs 13.1 cubic feet (370 liters) but still offers decent practicality. On top of that, just like with the Golf R, many specialists offer power upgrades, which will make the RS3 much quicker.
|Engine||2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five|
|0 to 60 mph||3.9 seconds|
Read our full review on the Audi RS3
If you absolutely need to have the three-pointed star, then why not consider the previous-generation A45? You get 90 percent of the performance, at less than half the price. In the UK, you can get a low-mileage 2016 model for around £26,000. For comparison, a brand new A45S will set you back more than £57,000, in the UK. With the W176-generation you get “only” 381 horsepower (284 kilowatts) and 350 pound-feet (475 Nm). You still get Mercedes’ 4-Matic all-wheel-drive system and a DCT gearbox. The car does 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.0 seconds.
If you don’t mind going the used car route and you really want your hatchback to have a Mercedes badge, this is as good as it gets. Moreover, the older car is 154 pounds (70 kg) lighter and if you want to match the horsepower and torque figures of the newer W177, that’s just an ECU remap away.
|Engine||2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder|
|0 to 60 mph||4.0 seconds|
Read our full review on the Mercedes AMG A45 (W176)