A Feeling of Displacement

Track Day: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

Cars By Photo by Eric Yang, Sung Han
Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 6D digital SLR. Unleash your inner filmmaker.

If you told us five years ago that the Teutonic tuners of AMG were working on a small-displacement turbocharged engine you might have snickered. AMG, the brawny performance tuning division of Mercedes-Benz, has a reputation for hand-crafting (literally) guttural, soul-stirring dynamos. Even the fattest rear tires have been known to vaporize under the yoke of AMG’s torque-rich engines. Taking a page right out of the Detroit muscle manual, for AMG engineers there simply was no replacement for displacement. Until now.

Recently, we made our way out to Bilster Berg, a new $45 million dollar track and driving resort tucked into the eastern foothills of Germany. A former British ammunition depot, the 2.6-mile track has quickly launched to must-drive status due to a challenging mix of speed and extreme elevation changes. It was a worthy canvas for painting tracks with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

Though it shares many fundamental underpinnings with its black-tied sibling, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, the A45 AMG won’t be coming to our shores, another car held captive by the throes of market research and logistics. It’s a shame, really, because hatches are experiencing a resurgence here in the US and the A45 in particular would be the darling of many a young, maturing enthusiast. Fortunately, the AMG powertrain will make its way into the CLA — which Mr. Bradley Hasemeyer recently drove — soon.

The A45 still manages to do what AMGs do best: evoke smiles. Easing from Bilster Berg’s small pit after a few trials of the standard A and CLA 250 AMG, we felt comfortable enough with the terrain to dig deeper into the throttle, bringing the clever 2.0-liter engine into a comfortable rev range. The car came alive with a satisfying mechanical snarl, all of its 353 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque translating to all four wheels (yes, this is an AWD AMG) via a seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT dual-clutch gearbox similar to the one in the SLS supercar. Though you won’t hear it, AMG has equipped the engine with a high-pressure turbo tuned to an extraordinary 26 psi of boost (race car levels) and engineering reinforcements throughout to ensure longevity. The result is the fastest 2.0-liter engine ever, the perfect instrument to paint the asphalt canvas of Bilster Berg for our latest Track Day.