2016 Mercedes-AMG A45 4MATIC | Review

According to William H. Land, the most important thing about power is making sure you don’t have to use it. But when there is so much of it on offer, can you really resist? We spent a week with the Mercedes-AMG A45 to test our resolve.

Mercedes-AMG A45Question. What’s bright red, has 376hp and does 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds? If your answer was a Ferrari F355, you’d be wrong, as the Maranello machine actually takes 4.7 seconds to hit 62mph. Yes, welcome to 2016, where you can buy a family hatchback with greater performance than a 1990s mid-engined supercar. But one with the benefits of better fuel economy, lower emissions, and far greater practicality – such is the pace of development in the past two decades. The A45 is the apex predator in the evolutionary process, as the most well-endowed mega hatch on sale at present.2016 Mercedes-AMG A45 ReviewThat adds a big chunk of gravitas, and expectation, that the A45 needs to live up to. For Mercedes this needs to be the gateway drug to AMG ownership – it’s selling a lifestyle choice just as much as it’s selling a car here. The first part of that sales pitch is making it look distinctive and, despite the number of AMG-kitted lesser A-Class models on the road, the A45 manages to look genuinely tough.

In Jupiter Red, adorned with the optional AMG Aerodynamic Package, our test car was anything but subtle. It also had the aural bark to match the visual bite, courtesy of the performance exhaust system. It’s loud – properly loud – and perhaps not an option to pick if you’re slightly more self-conscious. Clearly you don’t have to spec your A45 this way. Choose a subtle colour, ignore the exhaust and aero kit, and it could make for a relatively stealthy way to travel fast. But, being ESM, we’re all for dramatic entrances and the specification of this test car is very close to what we would pick ourselves.2016 Mercedes-AMG A45 ReviewOn the road, and especially on the motorway, you do have to be prepared for the fact seemingly everyone will want to race you. Be it a diesel Audi A4 estate, or Honda Civic Type-R, there’ll be no shortage of drivers trying to bait the AMG hatch. But we didn’t bite, as there’s something wonderfully cathartic from the knowledge that you could leave 90% of other road users in your wake. The A45 has nothing to prove, and that translates into the way in which you drive it. Such power is on offer when you want it on your terms and nobody else’s.

You may find yourself dictating those terms to yourself quite frequently, however. This car is absurdly fast, and you’ll find that you need several acceleration runs to try to process just what happens when you give it full throttle. Such is the tractability of the 2.0-litre turbo engine that most times only 25-50% of throttle pedal travel is needed to make good progress. But give it the complete 100% and, after a slight pause for turbo lag, the A45 pulls like all the best motoring clichés going.2016 Mercedes-AMG A45 ReviewLike any good AMG car, the motor is very much the star of the show. Also, just like a V8 or V12 engine from Affalterbach, each one is hand-built by an individual master engineer. Stefan, who built the one in our test car, is clearly a talented guy for wrestling all 376 horses into that 2.0-litre block. The resulting output is an unrelenting, ferociously rabid, stream of acceleration that allows the A45 to cover distance cross-country with ease.


Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé – Answering a question nobody asked?

We’ll cut to the chase. Here at EngageSportMode we’re not huge fans of SUV based ‘coupé’ creations like the BMW X6, so a new offering from Mercedes-Benz is not really the early Christmas present we were wanting.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé 001

We fully respect the right of people to drive what they want, and manufacturers to create what they see the market needs. But sometimes there’s just the suspicion that a creation like this is an answer to a question nobody actually asked. How many people have walked into a Mercedes-Benz dealership and said “I like that M-Class [or GLE as it’s now known] but really I wish the roofline was lower at the back” to the salesperson? We’re willing to bet not many, but then how many wanted the CLS ten years ago?

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At least the CLS-Class – a four-door coupé version of the E-Class – had a more obvious reason to exist in producing a more rakish looking version of a saloon. However, even this was stretching the concept of what a coupé is, from the original definition of being a two-door fixed roof car. The more recent CLS Shooting Brake took things further, by making an estate version of a four-door coupé, based on a normal saloon car. There is a lot of confusing ideas in the desire for Mercedes to fill every gap in the market, but at least the intended purpose for some of its creations is more apparent. (more…)

New – The 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake

Still needing a small performance wagon, but not taken with the VW Golf R Estate from last week? In something that seems to be the beginning of a trend, here’s Mercedes-Benz with their CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake to give you yet another option. 

2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake 001

Launched alongside regular versions of the new CLA Shooting Brake, this becomes the third spinoff from the A 45 AMG hot hatch. Using the same 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, the CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake retains the 355 bhp and 332 lb-ft of torque as the rest of its brethren. Mercedes likes to point out that this is the most powerful four-cylinder engine in series production at the minute, and that the unit also shares technology with the 4.0 biturbo V8 found in the Mercedes-AMG GT sportscar.

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But what does that engine mean for a small estate in terms of performance? Try 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. That’s quicker than the Golf R but then it should be, given the almost 60 bhp extra it’s packing under the bonnet. It also features an official fuel economy almost equal to the Golf, recording 40.1 mpg on the combined cycle. A sports exhaust with automatic flaps – yes, really – lets you decide between quiet cruiser or raucous racer as the mood takes you. (more…)

New – 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Saloon and Estate

Mercedes-Benz seems to be chucking out new AMG models at present. We’ve literally just seen the new Mercedes-AMG GT supercar, preceded by the S 65 AMG coupé earlier in the year. Now there’s the all-new Mercedes-AMG C 63 saloon and estate.

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Saloon 000

Yes, the eagle-eyed may have spotted a slight change in name. No longer is it the Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG; Stuttgart has decided to push Mercedes-AMG as sub-brand in its own right now. So, new name, same huge thumping naturally aspirated V8 engine?

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Saloon 002

Nope; that’s changed too. Gone is the 6.2 litre M156 engine, replaced with an all-new 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged M177 unit that Mercedes claims to be some 32% more efficient than the old one. Power is up, with 476 bhp in regular trim or 510 bhp in ‘S’ specification, matched with torque of 479 lb-ft or 516 lb-ft respectively. That’s a substantial hike in twist from the 443 lb-ft found in the previous generation car. Still present is the 7-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT transmission, albeit in a heavily revised format. (more…)

Fast News – The 2015 Mercedes-AMG GT

Forget the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus; the Mercedes-AMG GT sports car is the most important thing being released in two distinct flavours today. 

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Set to be available in both GT and GT S trim, the replacement for the wondrous SLS AMG packs a twin turbocharged 4.0 litre V8 engine into a two-seater chassis; featuring a high proportion of aluminium components to save weight. With 462 bhp and 443 lb-ft of torque in GT spec, and 510 bhp and 487 lb-ft in GT S spec, Merc’s new supercar is going to pretty quick with a kerb weight of less than 1,600 kgs.

2015 Mercedes-AMG GT 002

Official performance figures state 0-62 mph in 4.0 seconds for the GT, dropping to 3.8 seconds for the GT S; top speeds are electronically limited at 189 mph and 193 mph for the two respective variants. Turning those rear wheels via a mechanical locking differential (electronically controlled in the GT S) is a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Official fuel consumption is noted as a combined average of 30.0 mpg.

2015 Mercedes-AMG GT 003

Also unique to the GT S is the addition of three-stage electronically controlled suspension, featuring both sport and sport plus modes. Both cars receive forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension, combined with a speed variable steering system. Three stage ESP includes the ESP Sport handling mode along with the off mode, should you wish to get a little bit lairy with the back end. Brakes are ventilated and perforated discs – larger on the GT S –  with a carbon ceramic system available on the options list. (more…)

New – 2014 Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG Coupé

How much is too much? More specifically, just what constitutes too much when it comes to torque? The latest AMG version of the S Class Coupé might just have the answer. 2014 Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG Coupe 01 One thousand. 1,000. It’s a fairly significant number whatever the usage, but for Mercedes-Benz it symbolises the torque output for the AMG models at the very top of the tree. That’s 1,000 Newton Metres by the way, not foot pounds. 1,000 lb-ft would just be ridiculous of course… 2014 Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG Coupe 04 Making all that twist in the new S 65 AMG Coupé is a 6.0 litre V12 biturbo engine – don’t be fooled by the badging – it’s not a 6.5 litre – that’s related to the unit used in the Pagani Huarya. The key figures are 621 bhp and, of course, 738 lb-ft of torque. This engine has already featured in the S 65 AMG saloon, SL 65 roadster and even the G 65 AMG off-roader. It’s quite a special engine, but dropping it into something as elegant as the S Class Coupé just seems to make it… naughtier. (more…)

New Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake – Details and Photos ahead of Geneva Debut

No, it might not ever sell as many units as the Ford Focus, but a supercharged V8 estate car is still something to be celebrated. So here it is, ahead of its official Geneva Motor Show unveiling; the new Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake:

2015 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 001

ESM will be honest and say this one took us very slightly by surprise. Jaguar was rather late to the party with introducing an estate version of the XF in the first place, so we really didn’t expect this given that the entire Sportbrake range currently consists of only diesels!  However, it’s here and as EngageSportMode is a lover of fast load-luggers, it’s something to be celebrated.

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The headline stats are virtually identical to the four-door saloon variant, but just incase you’re unfamiliar here’s a quick recap: (more…)

EngageSportMode Awards 2013 Edition – Part One

Along with train fare increases and post-Christmas depression, January is also the customary time for EngageSportMode to dish out the infamous macaroni and glitter trophies to our favourite cars and people. Part one covers all things mechanical, whilst part two will cover the human side of things.


2013 was a big year for many things, some good, some bad. But as EngageSportMode has grown in size and readership, so has the number of trophies to dish out. We’re now sat on a metaphorical stack of 12, so let’s get the ceremony under way:

Best Car Driven in 2013Ford Focus ST Mountune Estate

Ford Focus ST Estate Mountune 000

The Focus ST Mountune could also qualify for a number of other awards, if we had them, such as best bright-yellow estate car and silliest induction noise. But, instead, it takes the top gong for being just so damn good when we drove it back in August. (more…)

2013 Frankfurt Motor Show Photo Highlights

EngageSportMode couldn’t be at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show but, fortunately, it knows some people who are. So with the press days now out of the way, what are some of the highlights from the 2013 Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung?

Below are some of the stand out new cars announced at this year’s show. Some are purely concept cars to set new directions and garner interest, whilst others are production ready. Click the photo for bigger images.


New – 2014 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Pricing Revealed

Mercedes-Benz UK has announced the prices and specification for its new flagship saloon, the S 63 AMG. So, just how big a mortgage will you need for the biggest Benz?

S63 AMG 001

£119,565 is the magic number if you want to place the 585 bhp, 2 tonne, super saloon on your driveway come the end of the year. At a price to rival most new-build starter homes, you might welcome the fact that the bi-turbo 5.5 litre V8 manages an official 27.9 mpg. (more…)