MERCEDES-AMG is readying its new generation A45 pocket rocket to lock horns with the Audi RS3 in a high-powered hot hatch arms race.
Company chairman Tobias Moers confirmed to Wheels at the Geneva motor show that the MFA2based, next-gen A45 will have at least 294kW, matching the current RS3, and the dynamic performance to put all other hot hatches’ noses out of joint.
“The A45 which is coming is going to be the next benchmark for the segment,” claims Moers. “This is for us the task. For performance, power output, everything.
“What we’re doing for [the] next generation is developing a brandnew 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. This is [the] key for 400-plus horsepower [more than 294kW]. There is going to be 400-plus. But that output only makes sense with driving dynamics which are equal. I’m not a fan of over-powered cars.”
The current A45 launched in 2013 with 4Matic all-wheel drive. AMG engineers have since developed a fully variable system for cars on the bigger MRA platform, such as the E63 S, called 4Matic+. Some of the smarts within that system will contribute to the A45’s evolved all-wheel drive.
“We haven’t finalised the name for that,” says Moers, confirming the new system’s technology advance. Torque-vectoring differentials will be the key, “but not the same” as found in the existing 280kW A45.
So is a drift mode on the cards? “Ah! I don’t know,” says Moers, with a look that suggests this isn’t the first time the idea has come up.
It is understood an even fiercer A45 S is in the pipeline further down the track, rumoured to have an additional 22kW (30PS) and a high likelihood of electrical assistance for its turbocharger.
“We use in the Project One an electrified turbocharger. This is something I promise you’re going to see sooner or later in our other portfolio,” says Moers.
AMG’s cheaper, entry-level A35 performance hatch will feature 48-volt mild-hybrid technology for its tilt against the Audi S3 and Golf R, though Moers says the A45’s bespoke engine will not have battery assistance.
General Motors has launched a new-generation V8 featuring twin turbochargers and enough performance to whet the appetite of even the most hardcore LS fans. The clean-sheet 4.2-litre smallblock V8 features dual overhead camshafts and a Mercedes-AMG-style ‘hot V’ configuration that nests the twin-scroll turbos between the cylinderhead banks. Estimated outputs stretch to 410kW (or 98kW per litre) and 850Nm. Built exclusively at GM’s Performance Build Centre at Bowling Green, Kentucky, the all-new V8 will debut in the all-wheel drive 2019 Cadillac CT6 V-Sport sedan.
Diversifying AMG’s small car offering into two model lines allows the mad folk at Affalterbach to go slightly mental with the A45, while the A35 covers off the majority of volume hot-hatch rivals.
Moers confirms as many as 14 small AMGs are on the cards, with 35 and 45 variants of seven of the eight new MFA2 vehicles (everything but B-Class) in his crosshairs.
Genesis, the luxury arm of Hyundai, unveiled its first supercar concept at the New York Show, in the form of the ambitious Essentia coupe. A swooping, bubbleroofed GT with a gaping front grille and classically beautiful cab-back proportion, the Essentia stands just 1.3m tall and is built around a carbon monocoque with inboard shocks, dihedral doors and ‘multi-motor’ electric drive units. The cabin is unashamedly high end, with leather, velvet, carbon weave and pearlfinished aluminium. There’s no word on production but it is a statement of intent and signals a new design language for the emerging marque.
“Not necessarily in every perspective regarding the 35 and the 45 but yeah, we’re going to cover the portfolio. Seven multiplied with 35s and 45s.”
That means AMG A-Class hatches and sedans, CLA-Class and CLA Shooting Brake, GLAClass, GLB-Class, and a yet-to-beconfirmed seventh body style.
The A-Class sedan is critical for AMG’s growth in the United States where the A-Class hatchback is currently not sold, and there’s also an appetite at Mercedes-Benz Australia to add a small three-box performance car to its showrooms.
Mercedes’ next-gen A-Class will launch in Australia later this year, with the A35 expected to be the first AMG version to show itself. The next A45 is unlikely to be revealed until the Geneva show in 2019, followed some time later by the A45 S.
British engineering firm GKN is working on an electrified rear axle, called eTwinster X, for use in next-gen hot hatches, which could see future models delivering more than 400kW.
GKN is responsible for torque-vectoring differentials found in the Ford Focus RS, Porsche 918 Spyder and even V6 AWD Holden ZB Commodores, and is now working on an adaptable solution for manufacturers looking to add hybrid performance to their hottest hatchbacks.
An AMG GLA45 test mule is being run by GKN with its standard 280kW engine powering the front wheels exclusively, and GKN’s 120kW/210Nm electric motor and twin-clutch diff driving the rear. Combined with a plug-in battery unit, GKN’s solution could be used to turn FWD models into AWD weapons with improved fuel economy to boot.