We have just joined the journalist hordes in Affalterbach for some early peeks at AMG's imminent future, and the downsizing trend is really catching on, even here with Mercedes-Benz and its traditionally big-engined high-performance arm.
The biggest news was the smallest news: a really hot-looking high-performance A-Class model dubbed A45 AMG that will take it to the soon-to-be tested BMW M135i and future Audi RS3. Specific numbers are not out, but engine bosses tell us to expect around 370 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque. The engine is all-new: a twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter called M133 and based loosely on the Daimler 2.0-liter turbocharged unit. If those figures are accurate, that would mean the M133 has the greatest true series-production power-per-liter rating in the world. This is the first AMG engine not built at Affalterbach, but at Daimler's state-of-the-art four-cylinder assembly plant at Kölleda, but the "one man, one engine" approach remains unscathed.
Word has it that the United States and Canada most likely will not get this wee AMG, but we hear this same powertrain with strengthened seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will come to us in a four-door CLA 45 AMG version, and possibly also in a smaller crossover vehicle based on the modular chassis beneath the A- and B- Class ranges.
Related GalleryMercedes-Benz A45 AMG in development
Official pics from this early peak-a-boo at HQ come out only after we leave, but we just got hold of these spy photos that show the car with very little left to the imagination. Best example of what we're talking about is the main show car unveiled at this past March's Geneva motor show – the A 250 Sport with the full AMG treatment pictured here.
Of what little we could divulge from the stone-faced Teutons, these little 45 AMGs will all come with all-wheel drive, and we don't intend a full-on 4Matic treatment. It is aidsed instead by a hang-on rear differential. But you can switch off completely the ESP and have a solid Sport rear bias. The challenge for all this dynamically will be the projected 60-percent of total weight resting over the front axle, 60 percent of around 3,300 pounds.
Redline on the tach is currently shown at 6,300 rpm, so we'll almost certainly be wishing it were left to go higher when we test it. The center transmission lever of all AMG models is there as well, which is a much finer interface for us than the civilian trim steering column lever-ette.
AMG folks say that there is a good chance that there will also be an optional Driver Package that will let the top speed go to 174 miles per hour versus the stock 155 mph. Pricing is said to be competitive with a BMW M135i or where an RS3 could end up. AMG is planning that from creating the three versions of the new compact lineup – hatch, sedan, and crossover – by 2017 and the 50th anniversary of AMG that total annual volumes will climb from today's 20,000+ units to 30,000+.