MERCEDES is gearing up to trump its a rivals by taking the hot AMG version of the next A-Class north of 400bhp, the boss of the performance division has revealed. The existing AMG A 45 has enjoyed its status as the world’s most powerful hot hatch ever since it first appeared in 2013. Its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo produced 355bhp at launch, although this figure has subsequently been boosted to 376bhp. Yet that’s not going to stop AMG pushing even further with the hardcore version of the next A-Class – previewed by our exclusive images – which will follow the launch of the standard car in the second half of 2017. AMG boss Tobias Moers has revealed to Auto Express that his engineers have been given a “blank piece of paper” to develop an all-new engine with even more power, mainly because the existing motor is already pretty much at its limit.
“Since the current A45’s facelift, we’ve been running with 376bhp,” Moers said. “For sure, the limiting factor is the heat management in the cylinder head, so we’re not moving toward with that engine any more. He continued; ‘We’ve started working on the next generation, and it’s a blank piece of paper for my engineers.” When asked whether the figure would be above 400 bhp, Moers replied; “Yes, I think so.”
AMG is likely to have been gifted more freedom on the next A 45 because the current car’s sales have disproved the theory that there would be little market for hot hatches beyond £30,000. At present, the average UK transaction price for the car is £50,000. Moers also admitted that the most extreme version of the A-Class could leave space in the range fora slightly more modest AMG edition, in the same way as the V8-powered C 63 AMG has been joined by theV6 C 43. Moers said; “The 43 AMGs are a different segment – a sports segment, where there are natural players from Audi and BMW. The gap between a [not for UK] C 400 and a C 63 was enormous, in terms of driving dynamics and performance, so there was space there.”
Asked if there could be a similarly useful amount of space between the A 250 and next AMG A 4 5, he stated; “Maybe.” A more modest AMG A-Class would give Mercedes a rival for the Audi S3 and BMW’s hottest 1 Series, the 335bhp M140L “The A4 5 gives us the volume, and the volume is important for our future,” Moers added.
“The A-Class works well for us. There was a business case for it, it has been selling and the board has been happy with us. It’s not just one car, either; it’s four, with the A45, CLA45, CLA45 Shooting Brake and GLA45. This gives us the freedom to move forward into the future, with the next generation.”