With the facelift of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 the Swabians clearly have the upper the hand. The Mercedes can actually dethrone the mighty Audi RS 3. Auto Bild’s comparison test proves so.
Let’s be honest. When AMG brought the A45 onto the power war stage, the expectations were hanging pretty darn high. The pressure to succeed came from all sides, driven by the hype kindled by the RS3 and the 1 Series M. Now Stuttgart’s most potent A-Class that used to burn the little four-cylinder on the racetracks finally comes to its senses and tries to beat the Audi at its own game.
The rejuvenation of the small Benz concerns almost exclusively the driving dynamics. This of course includes the high-pressure four-cylinder turbo, now strengthened by an additional 21 horsepower and 15 Newton meters. And what arrives on the crankshaft, now also flows efficiently into the all-wheel system. The transitions between the third and seventh gear raced immediately relevant and moreover a whole lot quicker than before. Also in the comfort department, there is news to report. Instead of the former sports suspension, an adaptive Ride Control suspension saves the day and can ride very attentive over each and every pothole. Also new: the front differential lock, which pleasantly kept its nose out of the straight and still offers effective real grip.
But the small AMG has won not only on performance. Reason: the new driving modes, with which the former full-time hooligan can now dispense into different severity levels. A small knob controls the vigilance of the engine, steering, suspension and exhaust sound. This allows on the one hand a much relaxing approach towards everyday life and on the other hand an even more radically sharpened performance peak.
Assuming you choose the Dynamic Package Plus, you also get a fifth driving mode, called Race. And its name really is well chosen! The best example: the gearbox, which really turns in said Race position only when the needle on the rev counter closes to the red line. For the perfect start it needs, however, no optional extras, but simply the optimized Launch Control, which makes the A 45 now even more skillful. On the one hand, of course, because of the shorter individual translations, on the other hand but also because of optimized gear changes, the rest essentially locking in the power flow. Precise, fast and precisely timed, the turbo engine continues to run at full speed even after switching. The 2.0-liter turbo now races a whole lot more vigorously to its rated power, always ready to push the A 45 in 15.9 seconds from zero to 200 km/s. Very good, but not enough for the RS 3 which reaches to two hundred a full second faster.
Firstly, the Audi gets a few tenths on the merits of his S-tronic transmision alone, which switches faster and above all on a considerably wider torque band compared with the AMG transmission. Say: The Audi kicks in each switching operation preceded itself again a few km / h.
The RS 3 and its revving five-cylinder
Audi finally he proves with its five-cylinder turbo also that one missing cylinder can be compensated by the way of boost pressure, but never can be replaced entirely. Because in contrast to the A 45, whose performance culminates as pointed at 6000 rpm / min, the RS3 extends the maximum figure over the entire plateau. And you can feel it. On more impulsive revving the most. Even otherwise, the five-cylinder makes a positive impact.
It remains always alert on gas imputs, can be metered fine and consumed in real operation even less than the four-cylinder Mercedes. On top of that it also has the more charming flair thanks to its aural merits – a Crescendo and pulsating rhythm. The Benz is, on the other hand, rocking harder, snotty and vulgar, forget all about the volume but also a little about the fine nuances. Mercedes dispensed with the entirely artificial sound amplifier, so it finally roars exactly as instructed by the performance exhaust system. Though, it does promise with its cheeky flap really a bit too much!
The improvements made to the Mercedes-AMG pay off
Especially on the Sachsenring circuit. Whether reffering to power, chassis or lock – everything works like an well-oiled machine for the sake of lap times. A more resolute turn-in balance in the curves and an extremely dedicated action accelerating out of tight corners, all is now possible thanks to the new lock differentianl, barely provoking any understeer. The steering reacts well to sensitive as well as linear imputs, kicking eagerly back, happy to communicate with the driver at all times. The gearbox still responds a bit too sluggish, especially when braking and the front tire walls are heading towards their sunset after five laps, which clearly describes the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system to primarily send the power reserves to the front axle. A gift for driving safety, a curse for spirited handling.
Especially if you compare its dynamic talents with those of the Audi which winds quite indifferent through the curves. Could this actually mean that the RS3 has won in principle of agility? Not necessarily. Just to relent, it does everything right, shoots without hesitation towards the apex and bends the rear willingly with. Only the front is simply too soft to maintain this momentum. Despite the 255mm front tires, the RS 3 slips again and again into understeer. The chassis also struggles to find the right balance and compared to the AMG inflicts a stronger array of body movements with the result being the inherent amplifying effect of the indifferent commuting around the vertical axis. In long curves understeer and oversteer succeed in uneven fashion, so for a fast lap you need peace of mind and a moderate corner entry speed.
The Bitter mind: Beyond the track, so in real life, there’s precious little to reproach to the RS3. On the contrary: Here the Audi saves face with its nimble steering and the wide-awake five-cylinder, proving at least as entertaining as the extremely focused A 45. Not enough to be king of the hill anymore, though. The crown now goes to Mercedes.