When I think about Mercedes, I usually think of soft leather interiors, smooth conservative looks and a lounge room on wheels driving experience – perfect for those long Sunday drives to the wine region or local yacht club.
What most people don’t realise is that there is a wild child out the back of the Mercedes factory who works under a different set or rules – tweaking, probing and turning limos into rocket ships. This wild child hides his work under the initials – AMG.
The opportunity to drive the A45 AMG at Symmons Plains was provided by a proud owner – who after completing a defensive driving program was keen to see what the car was capable of when unleashed on the full track.
At fist instance the cute looking hatchback could be just ‘another’ car with a few stickers and a few wings so that the manufacturer can sell it as a sports pack. Look a little closer and you realise that the wings are carbon fibre, the brakes are massive and when you climb into the cockpit the seats are probably the closest thing to a full race seat you will find in a passenger vehicle.
It is quickly evident why you need good seats when you start to push this little car into corners. With 265kw in a car the size of a Hyundai I30 (over double the power to put that into perspective) things get pretty exciting when you find the firewall.
Braking from over 180km/h we arrive at the famous hairpin at Symmons Plains – the slowest corner in the Australian V8 Supercars series. Steering is responsive, precise and provides a good feel allowing you to position the car exactly where you want to be.
The 7 speed sequential gearbox is fantastic. A little slow on the down shifts but bangs up the gears with a defined exhaust pop that creates a real experience that is addictive and really adds to the experience.
With 4WD looking after the power delivery – the car is stable mid corner and only experiences a small amount of oversteer if you are heavy on the power exiting a corner. I am sure this could be exploited further if someone was supplying the tyres!
Overall the car felt solid, quick and really allowed me to concentrate on the actual driving. I have driven quicker cars – but they all required a lot more input and left you feeling ragged. This little rocket would be not far behind – happily nipping at the heels waiting for the other driver’s to make a mistake.
Off the race track the car handles and performs like most other quality European cars with maybe a slightly harsher ride but certainly not considered uncomfortable by any means.
I am often asked to ‘test drive’ customers cars and I usually turn the opportunity down – but the reviews I had read of this little car had me keen to try it for myself – and I wasn’t dissapointed.
It may be the smaller of the AMG range – but it certainly has every right to wear the badge and hang out with much more expensive machinery both on and off the track.
– PDA Managing Director – Mark Butcher