2021 Mercedes-AMG A45 S track review

Mercedes-AMG has rolled out a semi-slick tyre option for the A45 S and CLA45 S to improve track performance – is it any good?

3 months ago
Comments
Paul Maric
Managing Editor
PROS
  • Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tyres transform the track experience
  • Brakes good for continuous track laps
  • Plenty of chassis feedback
CONS
  • Would love to hear more from the exhaust
  • Trofeo R tyres will set you back around $650 per corner

Mercedes-Benz recently announced the introduction of a semi-slick tyre package for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A45 S and CLA45 S, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to get behind the wheel and see how much of a difference the tyres make.

The venue for our drive was Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and we had the chance to drive the AMG A45 S with semi-slick tyres back-to-back with the regular car.

Mercedes-AMG has certified the Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tyre as an M01 specification tyre that matches the dimensions, load and speed ratings of the current Michelin Pilot Sport 4S factory-fitted tyre.

In theory, this should mean more grip, more traction and more fun on the race track.

How much does the Mercedes-AMG A45 cost?

Pricing for the Mercedes-AMG A45 S kicks off from $93,600 before on-road costs with a number of options available, most notable among which is the Edition 1 package, which adds $8090 to the asking price.

There are nine colours available, with metallic colours costing an additional $1190.

This pricing puts the A45 S in line with cars like the Toyota GR Supra, BMW M2, the Alpine A110 and – with the Edition 1 package – within cooee of the Porsche 718 Cayman, which is about $15,000 dearer.

It’s worth keeping in mind unlike BMW, Renault, or Porsche, Mercedes-Benz now offers a five-year warranty on the A45 S to help justify the asking price – especially if resale value is a consideration.

What do you get?

The asking price has increased, but so has the standard level of equipment – and the quality of everything you’re getting.

Standard equipment on the outside includes 19-inch matte black alloy wheels, quad 90mm exhaust outlets, uprated AMG brakes, and a Panamericana front grille nicked from the wider AMG range.

There are also multi-beam adaptive LED headlights, privacy glass, the AMG aero package, a power hump on the bonnet, parking sensors, a surround-view camera with auto parking aid, LED tail lights, along with proximity entry and start.

Inside the cabin, the feature list includes dual 10.25-inch screens with Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment, USB-C connectivity in front and rear, wireless phone charging, and heated AMG performance front seats.

As with the wider A-Class range, there’s ambient lighting with 64 colour options, along with electric seat adjustment, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Burmester surround-sound system, an AMG steering wheel wrapped in suede, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and radar cruise control with steering assist.

Is the Mercedes-AMG A45 safe?

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was crash tested in 2018 and scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

It comes standard with low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, reverse-AEB, rear cross-traffic alert, and detection of vulnerable road users.

The A-Class scored a 96 per cent adult occupant safety rating, a 91 per cent child occupant safety rating, a 92 per cent vulnerable road user protection score, and a 73 per cent safety assist score.

You can see more detail on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class crash test results on the ANCAP website.

What’s under the bonnet?

The most powerful four-cylinder production engine comes in the form of a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 310kW of power and 500Nm of torque, mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

It manages to pump out those figures courtesy of a roller bearing twin-scroll turbocharger that dials up an incredible 2.1bar (30.5 PSI) of boost pressure at its peak.

The system uses an electronic waste-gate instead of a traditional pneumatic setup, which helps with boost control and better ramping of the turbocharger.

The engine itself has been rotated 180 degrees over the outgoing model, which places the turbocharger at the rear of the engine, closer to the cabin. This reduces the amount of plumbing required and ultimately increases efficiency.

Mercedes-AMG claims the A45 S will dash from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds – you can see our figures below.

Beneath the skin, the AMG engineers were involved in the A-Class engineering process from the body-in-white stage, which meant they were able to add extra bracing for the A45 S to better deal with the level of performance on offer.

Official fuel consumption comes in at 8.9 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle. It’s not a huge amount of fuel, but it is almost 20 per cent more than the outgoing model.

The A45 S also requires 98 RON premium unleaded petrol.

How does the Mercedes-AMG A45 drive on the track?

It’s dry, sunny and cool. Perfect conditions to stretch the legs of AMG’s smallest car.

Flicking over to Sport+ puts the car into full attack mode. It holds gears for longer, shifts down gears earlier and offers sharper throttle response. In this mode there’s virtually no turbo lag and it’s easy to forget it’s powered by a four-cylinder engine.

When we reviewed this car on the road it almost felt a little too much, and it could feel unhinged through corners with a combination of pace and suspension firmness. With more room to move, it transforms on the race track.

The smoothness of the race track levels the ride out and you can match your entry and exit pace to the portion of track you’re driving.

For example, on a bumpy country road the car can slightly shuffle across the road if you hit a mid-corner bump. With high entry speed it can become unsettled and require a great deal more attention than slower hot hatches that flow through a corner at the limit.

The double apex at turn two offers room for the car to wash wide if you enter too quickly, but equally offers room to get on the throttle at the corner exit to build up speed to the right edge of the track.

The all-wheel drive system does a masterful job of sending torque to the axle and wheels that need it most through torque vectoring, and there’s always plenty of feedback through the wheel to stay on top of everything that’s going on through the chassis.

As the speed picks up and you approach corners at high speeds like Honda (turn four) and MG (turn 10), the car squirms a little and exhibits some movement. For the driving novice it’s enough to make you feel like you’re approaching the limits of the car (even when you’re not).

It’s entirely engaging and way better than I thought it would be.

That carries on to the brakes too. Even after an eight-lap stint, the brakes felt good and didn’t go long or breach confidence. There’s plenty of communication through the pedal and the stickier tread means you rarely reach an ABS event that can sometimes unsettle the car unintentionally.

Onto the tyres. The Trofeo R rubber completely transforms the way the A45 S feels.

We did a stint with the Pilot Sport 4S and while it’s an already capable tyre, it reached its traction limits earlier and was much noisier. It would squeal at the limit and it would reach that limit earlier than the Trofeo R.

In the hands of a professional driver, the Trofeo R was around 3.4 seconds quicker around Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit than the Pilot Sport 4S – a pretty cheap way to get more out of your car. You can read more about the Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R announcement from Mercedes-Benz here.

It’s worth also touching on Drift Mode. We had the chance to test this feature out on the skid pan. It’s one of those features you’re never likely to use while owning the car, but if you find yourself in the middle of a skid pan, it’s a stack of fun.

It’s also very simple to use – turn in, stab the throttle and then just steer where you want the car to go. It’s intelligent enough to send enough torque to the rear while still giving you steering control through the front axle.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mercedes-AMG A45 S

If you watched our video review of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A45 S you would have seen the part where I conclude it’s bloody quick, but doesn’t really have any soul.

I need to backtrack on that. It’s almost too much car for the road. It needs a race track like Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit to stretch its legs.

Coupled with this new Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tyre option, it really is hard to fault.

There’s a heap of communication through the chassis and the level of mechanical grip is next level. It’s playful and provides the type of feedback that makes a novice track driver like yours truly feel like they’re actually doing something, as opposed to just being a passenger.

So if you own a Mercedes-AMG A45 S or a CLA45 S, you should seriously consider getting a set of P-Zero Trofeo R tyres for your next track day. They will transform the drive and give you the chance to get a more in depth experience from the car.

CarExpert’s performance driver, Chris Atkinson has track tested the Mercedes-AMG A45 S. To see how he went and the lap times he set, check out the CarExpert leaderboard here.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Mercedes-AMG A45 S news and reviews
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310kW
202g
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