Who you callin’ “grocery getter”?

Mercedes first revealed the current third-generation A-Class back in 2012, initially dropping cover at the Geneva Motor Show. These days, it appears as though the five-door hatchback is prepped to receive an update with a fourth-gen model, but before that happens, it looks like the German automaker is gearing up for one helluva swan song. Our carparazzi recently spotted this test mule out on the roads adjacent to the Nurburgring, prompting widespread speculation that Merc is busy crafting an even-hotter variant of the AMG A45. As the last iteration of the current model before it’s replaced, this potential range-topper will likely get more aggressive styling, a race-inspired cabin, and even more output under the hood. We’re thinking a high-performance AWD system with no less than 100 horsepower for each of the tires.

Rumor has it the pumped-up hatchback could be called the A45 R or A45 S, but Merc might also call it the AMG A45 Black Series. While the Black Series designation is usually reserved for two-door models sporting a massive GT-style wing in back, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that this five-door will break the mold.

Unfortunately, Mercedes deems the A-Class unfit for U.S. consumption, which makes this teardrop-shaped ‘Bahn burner a forbidden fruit on these shores. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hope Mercedes reconsiders its position.

More info on the upcoming A-Class is expected in the next few months, but until then, read on for our speculative review.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG A45 Black Series.

Exterior

At first blush, the car pictured in these spy shots is quite similar to the current AMG A45. The front fascia sports a wide grille bisected by two horizontal chrome trim lines, which connect the LED-equipped headlights. In the headlight housings, there are daytime running lights, while below the headlights are large, deep intakes that mirror the headlight shape. The lower grille also gets a bisecting line, this time with a splitter that echoes the front spoiler of a formula car.

So – it looks very similar to the current A45, but under those flared out fenders, we think Mercedes has something special brewing.

In the sides, we see a classic hatchback shape, with a flat roofline that terminates in a rear duckbill spoiler. The shoulder line lends a sense of forward-leaning rake to the stance, while the side skirt embellishments are hidden under swirly black-and-white camo. Equipped in the corners are split seven-spoke wheels, which look enormous underneath the plumped up fenders and low ride height.

In the rear, the taillight design appears unchanged. The lower diffuser also appears to be a carryover, with a black insert housing two sets of twin square exhaust pipes.

So – it looks very similar to the current A45, but under those flared out fenders, we think Mercedes has something special brewing. Check out the Drivetrain and Chassis And Handling sections for more.

Compared to competing models from Audi and BMW, the Mercedes is definitely the peacock of the bunch. The swoopy front air dam, flashy wheels, and purposeful rear end combine to give the hatchback a lot of presence, and it’s likely we’ll see Mercedes double down on those characteristics with this even-faster A45. A larger rear wing would be a good place to start, with extra vents and deeper intakes making for nice complements. It’ll all be quite functional too, with more hot air extracted from under the hood, and more downforce and stability generated at speed.

08/02/2017 Update – Mercedes-AMG A45 Caught Testing

We just caught the new Mercedes-AMG A45 out and about doing some real world testing! This time around, Merc saw fit to wrap it up front to back with swirly camo coverings. Does this mean a new exterior look is in the cards?

Possibly. Check out that front end – while it’s hard to see through all the black and white, the intakes look likely to get a reshape. Same for the headlight housings, which look narrower than before. The stance also looks wider and closer to the ground, while roofline is a bit less bubbly.

Granted, this is the normal A45, not a Black Series model, but if Merc does tune its beefy hot hatch for high-performance glory, expect it to incorporate the usual AMG flair.

Interior

If you think the exterior of the AMG A45 is eye-catching, you should check out the interior, where race-inspired goodies are equipped pretty much everywhere possible.

Drivers grip a three-spoke, square-shaped, multifunction steering wheel, which comes wrapped in leather and gets red contrast stitching. Complementing the hide is brushed metal, while shift paddles are in place to direct the dual-clutch transmission. Drilled pedals studded with rubber reside in the foot well.

Across the dash, Merc will install a carbon-fiber look material. More brushed metal will outline the infotainment controls in the center, while up above will be a tablet display. Another vertical driver’s information display will sit in the center of the gauge cluster.

Additional red trim will be found in the highly bolstered sports seats, climate control vents, and in the armrest on the central tunnel. Infotainment will include Apple CarPlay support.

Rival products from competing makes are also equipped with sporty, performance-oriented interiors, especially Audi’s RS3, but the Merc once again sets itself apart with superior tuner attitude. Expect more of the same with the upcoming range-topping A45.

Drivetrain

Under the hood of the current A45 AMG, Mercedes felt compelled to bless the hatchback with the most powerful mass-produced four-cylinder passenger-car engine in the world.

Starting with a 2.0-liter platform, the German automaker bolted on a ginormous turbocharger, boosting output to a heady 381 horsepower, plus 350 pound-feet of torque at 2,250 rpm. Routed to all four wheels via a 4Matic AWD system and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the AMG A45 can hit 62 mph in a mere 4.2 seconds.

2015 Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 635511

Note: Engine of the AMG A45 shown here.

If the rumors hold true, Mercedes will be upping the ante even further with this new model. How much further? Well, how does 370 pound-feet of torque and an even 400 horsepower sound?

That’s quick for any car, let alone a five-door hatchback, but if the rumors hold true, Mercedes will be upping the ante even further with this new model. How much further? Well, how does 370 pound-feet of torque and an even 400 horsepower sound?

With a few more tweaks to the ECU tuning, fewer restrictions in the intake and exhaust, an upgraded fuel system, and a few extra psi of boost, the wrenches over at AMG could definitely coax another 20 horsepower and 20 pound-feet of torque from the four-cylinder. That would make for 100 horsepower per cylinder, 200 horsepower per liter, and even more speed. Paired with a re-tweaked gearbox tune and lighter chassis, I could see the updated AMG A45 break the four-second barrier in the 0-to-60 mph sprint.

That would make it the quickest hot hatch on the road, which is definitely something that the boys at AMG would be happy to boast about.

By comparison, the Audi RS3 can hit 60 mph in the low four-second range, while the BMW M140i does the same in the high four-second range. Top speed will remain electronically limited at 155 mph.

The new AMG A45 will definitely still come with AWD, and most likely utilize a mechanical limited-slip differential to help make the traction up front. The current seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will get retuned for even quicker shifts, while features like a launch mode and multiple driving modes will be retained.

Mercedes-AMG A45 Black Series Audi RS3 BMW M140i
Engine 2.0-liter four-cylinder 2.5 TFSI five cylinder 3.0-liter, inline-six engine
Horsepower 381 HP 367 HP 335 HP
Torque 350 HP 343 LB_FT 332 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 4.2 seconds 4.3 seconds 4.8 seconds
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch Seven-speed S tronic Six-speed manual

Chassis And Handling

2018 Mercedes-AMG A45 Black Series Exterior Spyshots
- image 693563

Underpinning the current AMG A45 is Mercedes’ W176 MFA architecture. The MFA half of that will stay the same, while the W176 will see an update with the generational changeover. However, the faster AMG A45 pictured here will most likely retain the old W176 bones.

Mercedes-AMG’s Adaptive Dampers are highly likely to come equipped as standard, offering varying levels of comfort and control based on whichever setting the driver chooses.

That said, there will be a few notable changes with the new model. The track, for example, will likely see an increase, while the E.U.-rated kerb weight of 1,555 kg (3,428 pounds) could see a reduction of 10 to 20 kg. The weight savings could come from greater utilization of lightweight materials, such as carbon fiber and aluminum.

Mercedes-AMG A45 Black Series Audi RS3 BMW M140i
Weight 3,395 LBS 3,351 LBS 3,362 LBS

Handling chops will come courtesy of a four-wheel independent suspension set-up, including coil springs with double-tube gas shocks up front, and coil springs with single-tube gas shocks in the rear.

Mercedes-AMG’s Adaptive Dampers are highly likely to come equipped as standard, offering varying levels of comfort and control based on whichever setting the driver chooses. These units offer continuous refinement to the ride, self-adjusting as needed to better handle the road surface. Paired with the AMG speed-sensitive steering, it should make the lighter, more powerful AMG A45 that much more entertaining in the corners.

Throwing the anchor will be AMG’s plus-sized braking system, with 350 mm (13.8-inch) rotors and four-piston calipers in front, and 330 mm (13.0-inch) rotors and single-piston calipers in the rear. We expect red caliper paint as standard.

Prices

The current AMG A45 slots in at around 40,000 pounds, which converts as $48,976 at current exchange rates (10/31/16). With more power, a lighter chassis, and more standard go-fast goodies, I could see the final sticker get boosted to 45,000 pounds, or $55,098. That would make it one of the more expensive options amongst its premium hot hatch peers, but hey – who can argue with 400 horsepower?

Competition

Audi RS3 Sportback

2015 Audi RS3 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 585654

Well, apparently, Audi can argue with 400 horsepower. That’s because the Four Ring brand is cooking up a 100-pony-per-wheel hot hatch of its own, packing it with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder powerplant, which, thanks to a single turbo, should hit that magic output figure. Whether or not it’ll have the grunt to outmuscle the Merc remains to be seen, but either way, the RS3 should put up a good fight in the segment.

Read the full review here.

BMW M140i

2017 BMW M140i High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 676165

BMW may have touted itself as the ultimate driving machine, but in this segment, Bimmer is taking a more sensible approach. As a replacement for the outgoing M135i, the new M140i produces just 335 horsepower from an inline six-cylinder engine, which is enough to charge to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds when running the optional eight-speed automatic transmission.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2018 Mercedes-AMG A45 Black Series Exterior Spyshots
- image 693565

It’s a real shame Mercedes isn’t bringing this thing stateside. Hot hatch lovers have been pretty spoiled the last few years, and a 400-horsepower monster from AMG would round out the segment quite nicely. That said, customers in Europe and Britain are sure to appreciate this thing. It’s really looking like it’ll capture all the good things about this segment, like flashy looks, a splash of practicality, and even more speed than ever before.

Hopefully it won’t be too expensive. As is, the AMG A45 is deep into sports car territory, but at least with 400 horsepower on tap, it’ll have the goods to go with the high-end sticker price.

  • Leave it
    • * Look-at-me styling
    • * Pretty expensive for a hatchback
    • * Not coming to the U.S.
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