Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG: Mercedes’ performance brand downsizes

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG teaser front three quarterIt’s hard to believe that the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is made by the same company that created the SLS AMG Black Series and other aggressive performance models. This isn’t a sports car with a 6.2-liter V8, it’s a front-wheel drive hatchback. Although the first hot hatchback from AMG won’t debut until the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013, Mercedes decided to whet appetites with a couple of teaser images.

The car in the photos wears virtually no camouflage, and has the requisite hunkered-down stance, big wheels and tires, and body kit of an AMG car. It also wears a version of the Solar Beam yellow paint available on AMG’s Black Series models. However, on this little hatchback, the overall effect is more boy racer than high end European performance car.

The A45 really needs the chops to prove that it isn’t just a cynical exercise in cost-cutting. It will reportedly have a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. Autocar reported earlier this year that the engine, which also does duty in the regular A-Class, will be tuned to 330 horsepower and more than 295 pound-feet of torque.

The only available transmission will be a seven-speed, dual-clutch, automated manual.

Front-wheel drive cars don’t do well with large amounts of torque; all that power can actually tug the wheels in a phenomenon called “torque steer.” To cancel that out, AMG will equip the A45 with all-wheel drive. That should quiet the torque steer, and hopefully give the car better grip as well.

The all-wheel drive system, designed by Haldex, will reportedly send most of the power to the rear wheels when the driver puts his or her foot down, which could mask the A45’s humble origins even more.

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG teaser rear three quarterAlthough it’s still a bit unorthodox for AMG, the A45 is shaping up to be a competent performance car. It will need to be competent, too, because this three-pointed star won’t be the only premium performance hatchback on the market.

When it goes on sale, the A45 AMG will face off against the BMW M135i and Audi S3, both of which are new for 2013. The BMW packs a 320 hp inline six and is available with either all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. The Audi has a 300 hp, turbocharged four and is only available with all-wheel drive.

The M135i and S3 probably won’t come to the U.S., but the A45 AMG might. Mercedes has talked about bringing other A-Class variants, including the CLA “four door coupe,” to the States, so why not include this performance version?

At this early stage, its hard to tell exactly what Mercedes’ plans for the AMG are. Look for more information, and more detailed specifications, in the coming months.

Cars

Mercedes-Benz predicts cars will evolve more in the next decade than ever before

Mercedes-Benz lead designer Gorden Wagener needs to push the company's design language further without diluting it. Digital Trends sat down with Wagener to gain insight into how Mercedes-Benz design will evolve as cars become more…
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

BMW’s X3 M and X4 M pack 503 horsepower in nontraditional form

BMW is starting even further from its heritage with the 2020 X3 M and X4 M performance crossovers. But with up to 503 horsepower available in each vehicle, does that really matter?
Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.
Cars

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.
Cars

Report: Amazon and General Motors may invest in electric pickup company Rivian

General Motors and Amazon may invest between $1 billion to $2 billion for minority stakes in U.S. startup Rivian, an all-electric truck company, Reuters reports. Rivian introduced the R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto show.
Cars

Ford F-150 recall: Fault could cause vehicle to downshift into first gear

Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 vehicles over a potential fault that could cause it to suddenly downshift into first gear. The automaker said it's currently aware of five accidents related to the issue.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.