Mercedes A45 S goes like a rocket and is light years ahead of anything else


THE billionaire space race is hotting up.

We’ve got Sir Richard Branson promising Virgin Galactic flights in “months not years”. Elon Musk and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos bankrolling separate missions to Mars.

 The Mercedes A45 S goes like a rocket and is light years ahead of anything else

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The Mercedes A45 S goes like a rocket and is light years ahead of anything else

Then there’s the secret space lab over at Mercedes. OK, I made that last one up.

But strap an A45 S on to the side of a giant fuel tank, point it to the heavens and you’d be halfway there.

Through their dark magic, Merc has squeezed an astonishing 0-62mph launch time of just 3.9 SECONDS from their new hyper hot hatch. For context, that’s faster than its own AMG GT V8 sports car.

And all from a 2-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo. The hand-built AMG engine produces a mind-boggling 421hp and 500Nm of torque, making it the world’s most powerful 2-litre turbo in series production.

 Mercedes has squeezed an astonishing 0-62mph launch time of just 3.9 SECONDS from their new hyper hot hatch

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Mercedes has squeezed an astonishing 0-62mph launch time of just 3.9 SECONDS from their new hyper hot hatch

It also means it has more output per litre than a McLaren Senna. Hilarious.

So, what’s it like to drive? Almost perfect. The A45 S has such an insane turn of speed that your passenger will never be able to send a coherent text. Then at 5,000rpm, it just gets silly. Everything goes blurry.

But do you know what? It doesn’t feel dangerous at all. The stability and stickability of Merc’s fully variable four-wheel drive ­system is just as impressive as the thrust. As are the brakes. As is the ride comfort, surprisingly.

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It’s such an easy car to hustle from A to B, you’ll feel like a pro within the first mile.

 The widescreen dash and the seats and the yellow stitching and the fit and finish are all top drawer - but it's overkill

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The widescreen dash and the seats and the yellow stitching and the fit and finish are all top drawer – but it’s overkillCredit: Mercedes-Benz Cars press photo, do not use for advertising purposes

But it does need a little more meat to the steering.

I nearly forgot to mention DRIFT mode. The rear axle differential has two multi-disc clutches, one for each wheel, which means torque can be sent to the right rear when steering left, and vice versa, to provoke delicious power slides.

I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t try it. So I did. It’s a lot of fun.

Switch off the ESP, select Race mode, manual transmission, pull up the flappy ­paddles for two seconds to prompt the ­message ‘Drift mode confirm: Paddle up’, pull up the right paddle, and off you go. Even your nan could do it.

 The A45 S starts at £50,000, which is a lot for a small car

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The A45 S starts at £50,000, which is a lot for a small car

Hot hatches are the most exciting genre of car for me and this A45 S is light years ahead of anything else.

It’s a shame the cabin lets the side down. It seems the interior designers were trying too hard to keep up with the chassis and engineering team and they overegged it.

Don’t get me wrong, the widescreen dash and the seats and the yellow stitching and the fit and finish are all top drawer.

But it’s too complicated. Overkill, even. This thing has more buttons than Apollo 11.

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 The Mercedes A45 S has more buttons than Apollo 11

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The Mercedes A45 S has more buttons than Apollo 11Credit: Mercedes-Benz Cars press photo, do not use for advertising purposes

I don’t need a noisy exhaust button on the steering wheel and then another one on the centre console by my elbow.

The same goes for the drive mode settings. There’s a button on the steering wheel, by your elbow, or you can use the touchscreen.

I reckon you could use voice ­command for that too. And hello? Who builds a rocketship without grab handles

But, of course, the biggest problem is the stratospheric price. The A45 S starts at £50,000, which is a lot for a small car.

KEY FACTS: MERCEDES A45 S

Price: £50,000

Engine: 2-litre turbo petrol

Power: 421hp, 500Nm

0-62mph: 3.9 secs

Top speed: 167mph

Economy: 34mpg

CO2: 189g/km

Out: November

And the CLA 45 S, which is exactly the same mechanically but with a swoopy ­back-end, will cost two grand more.

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No one under 30 can afford that unless they’ve just won £3million playing Fortnite.

That said, the A45 S is one of the fastest and most satisfying cars I’ve driven this year. Merc and Nasa should talk.

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