Driven: Merc 45 AMG’s at Redstar Raceway

45 AMG compact performance dayThis past week I was lucky enough to visit Red Star Raceway as a guest of Mercedes Benz’ lunatic division, more commonly known as AMG.

Those of you who know anything of Mercedes’ AMG division will have begun salivating already. For those who don’t, AMG specialise in transforming bog standard Merc’s into insanely powerful high performance sports cars; basically, they’re Stuggart’s answer to BMW’s ‘M’ division.

Only with a slight difference. Whilst M cars tend to be precision tools – delivering the ultimate driving experience – AMG is all about blunt force trauma. Their speciality is loud and powerful naturally aspirated V8 and V12 motors. Or should I say was; because of late they’ve focussed on turbo charging a little 2.0 litre four pot. But don’t let the diminutive size fool you. This one’s just as beastly.

45 AMG compact performance dayTo be more precise, the A45, CLA45 and GLA45 AMG’s have under their respective bonnets the most powerful 2.0 litre production engine ever made. 265kW and 450Nm lies in wait for the unsuspecting driver’s right foot.

And it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Mash the aluminium pedal into the plush carpet and you’re propelled with what I can safely say is some-gusto. 100km/h is on the dials in just under 5 seconds, depending on the model in which you’re sat. The exhaust gives off a throaty burble and pop as the cogs switch in Merc’s 7 speed dual clutch automatic ‘box.

In fact that burble was the cause of much contention for AMG fans – and the company themselves. Going for turbo power, as Formula 1 fans will know, tends to have a negative impact on the aural wonders that emanate from an internal combustion engine. AMG are renowned for their fantastic sounding V8’s and V12’s – and weren’t about to lose the magic just because they’d been tasked with a turbo’d four pot. Job well done chaps.

45 AMG compact performance dayAround the race track the 45 AMG’s are interesting beasts. Power is obviously abundant (perhaps Eskom should take some tips) and thankfully they have brakes to match – although after a few laps there was distinct brake-fade. The All-Wheel Drive system isn’t a permanent one, meaning the cars are front wheel drive most of the time, unless the electronics think you’re being a bit leery at which point it’ll engage the rear axle. This means it’s less settled than a traditional AWD and not as responsive to driver inputs when trying to neutralise the car mid-corner.

But, plant your foot on the other side and the noise and power surge soon puts a smile back on your face as you plummet toward the next braking point. And at the end of the day isn’t that what AMG is about? If you want a dentist’s tool, pop by BMW. But if you want a baseball bat, you’re at the right place.