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Sub-$100K AMG A-Class for Australia

All-paw: AMG says that the all-wheel-drive configuration to feature on the forthcoming flagship A-Class is indicative of a wider use of four-paw technology on other future passenger models.

Mercedes Australia locks in all-wheel-drive A45 AMG hatchback for late-2013 debut

22 Jun 2012

MERCEDES-BENZ will introduce a scorching all-wheel-drive AMG version of its new A-Class five-door hatch in Australia by the end of 2013, priced as low as $80,000.

The German company has confirmed the hardcore version of its smallest vehicle will be called the A45 AMG, and will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with a torque figure “significantly above” 400Nm.

Further details are scarce, and the image below is a regular A-Class with AMG bodykit only, but Mercedes-Benz has said it will tear the covers from the final production model in the first quarter of 2013, indicating a potential world public debut at the Geneva motor show on March 7.

Before it launches the AMG headline act here, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific will release the rest of its A-Class hatch range in the first quarter of next year, with prices starting around $35,000 for the base A180.

The initial A-Class range will also be comprised of an ‘engineered by AMG’ A250 Sport to be powered by a 155kW direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that will be pitched against the Volkswagen Golf GTI and BMW 125i.

The full-fat A45 AMG – the first of its kind in the company’s 45-year history – will line up squarely against arch-rival BMW’s 235kW/450Nm turbocharged six-cylinder M135i hot hatch, which has been confirmed for Australia and is due to lob at the end of this year.

4 center imageFrom top: Next generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class Concept Style Coupe.

The AMG 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine should go close to matching the outputs of the larger BMW engine, meaning a zero to 100km/h sprint time of around the 5.0-second mark (as with the Beemer) should be on the cards.

The force-fed engine will be paired to a Speedshift seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. There is no official word on a manual version.

The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system under the A45’s brawny bodyshell will incorporate “independently developed” front and rear axles, electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering, AMG high-performance brakes and three-stage stability control including a Sports setting.

AMG claims that all-wheel-drive will play a bigger role in other future models, indicating that next-generation versions of existing AMG passenger models like the C63 and E63 could shed their current rear-drive layout in favour of four-paw configurations.

As with the more garden-variety front-drive A-Class models, the AMG will be based on the company’s new MFA modular platform that will underpin a wide range of small front- and all-wheel-drive models including the CLA sedan and GLC small SUV.

Mercedes-Benz Australia has previously confirmed the CLA – which was previewed by the near-production Concept Style Coupe at the Beijing motor show in April – will arrive in mid-2013 priced from below $50,000.

While not officially confirmed, sub-$100K all-wheel-drive AMG version of the CLA is expected to emerge several months after the A45 AMG, meaning a likely Australian debut in early 2014.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific manager of corporate communication Jerry Stamoulis told GoAuto today that the company expected to face limited supply of the A45 AMG, with the performance arm resolutely sticking to its ‘one man – one engine’ philosophy whereby each powertrain is individually crafted from start to finish by a single ‘master mechanic’.

Australia is the world’s fifth largest customer for AMG models, and the world leader on a per capita basis. Mercedes has sold around 500 of its $154,800 C63 AMG sports sedans alone Down Under in 2012 – meaning the hottest version amazingly accounts for almost one-fifth of total C-Class sales.

AMG has said it will expand its model range from 22 vehicles to around 30 in the future as part of its aim to boost sales from 20,000 units last year to 30,000 by 2017. Much of this growth will come from China, Brazil and Russia, but also more established players like Australia.

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