I’m facing a significant birthday. I tell you this to contextualise my relationship with this car, the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. Don’t be scared; although this little monster’s unlikely combination of spoilers, sill extensions and Bond Street prices suggests otherwise, I got my midlife crisis out the way years ago. My attraction to this car was driven less by a craving for new experiences, and more by the need to relive old memories, the warm blanket of nostalgia.
There used to be a handful of cars like the A45 AMG: four-cylinder, turbocharged family hatchbacks with four-wheel drive. And that’s because the basic mechanical blueprint for entry in to the World Rally Championship was exactly that. So when the rules changed, the four-wheel drive cars disappeared and car makers went back to trying to find ways of bending the basic laws of physics that say too much power through wheels which are also obliged to turn on their mounts in order to facilitate steering is a BAD THING.
Some, it has to be said, did so with considerable flair and success, but 355bhp — three hundred and fifty five brake horse power — was always going to be too much, so the A45 was always going to need four-wheel drive or risk putting its drivers through the window of every corner shop unlucky enough to find itself adjacent to the start line of a traffic light grand prix. Why so much horsepower? Well the A45 isn’t just a Mercedes, it’s an AMG Mercedes, and AMG is German for “sorry… how much horsepower did you say?” The A-class may be Benz’s smallest car, but anything less than the most powerful stock two-litre engine currently on sale would have been off-brand.