Mercedes’ first-ever hot hatch is now down to 20 grand. The A45 is a landmark car both for Stuttgart and AMG, who had never built a turbocharged four-cylinder before. And for a first stab they did a remarkably fine job. The A45 squeezes a bonkers 355bhp from its 1991cc – more horsepower per litre than a Bugatti Veyron. Adding four-wheel drive and a seven-speed paddle-shift dual-clutch ’box into the mix were clever ideas, giving the A45 enough heave and grip to embarrass a 911. This is a seriously rapid and entertaining Benz that can dispatch 60mph in 4.5 seconds, run to a limited 155mph and return 35mpg.
Classic on the cusp
Like all landmark cars it’s the early incarnations that should interest us. The 2013/2014 MkI can genuinely claim to be the world’s first hyper hatch, conceived long before the Golf R and Audi RS3. As with all AMG engines, the A45’s is hand-built by one bloke with his signature on a plaque. Inside there’s red stitching and carbonfibre trim, while outside you can trick things up with a rear bumper splitter, red calipers, 19 inch black alloys and the Aero Package (huge rear spoiler) plus the essential Performance Exhaust. Owners who ticked all those boxes will have paid over £45k, so a high-spec early car at around £24k is solid value. Motor Match in Rochdale has a Mountain Grey 2014 with 45k miles for £20,497 while Proveeda in Suffolk has a Jupiter Red 2013 with 29k for £22,950.
Turn-in is tenacious, grip awesome and the steering, although electrically assisted, is well weighted with real sharpness at attack velocities. The all-wheel drive system means it’s poised, balanced and sure-footed on a sweeping B-road (but avoid the sports suspension option because it’s too crashy for UK roads). The whooshing, whining and barking soundtrack is one of its greatest virtues – it lets everyone know this is no ordinary A-Class. I counted 14 pages of A45s for sale on one online site, so buying a few-owner low-miler for around £20k shouldn’t be hard at all. Just watch out for damaged repaired A45s – there are an alarming number.
Because it’s a proper AMG, only buy with an MB dealer history and avoid cars with specialist stamps in the service book. Think of the A45 as having the same game-changing influence as the MkI Golf GTi and you’ll understand its historical significance. Drive one and you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
COST NEW £42k
VALUE NOW 2019 £22k