At the launch of the new Mercedes-AMG GT S recently, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia also gave several members of the media the opportunity to experience some of their AMG models at the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience. Read on as we rode shotgun in the Mercedes-AMG GT S and drove the A45 AMG at the Sepang International Circuit!
Before getting into the AMG models, members of the media were given a taxi ride in the Mercedes-AMG GT S. Behind the wheel of this monster was none other than Mercedes-Benz Chief Driving Instructor, Peter Hackett. We were split into two groups, with the first group going to the south circuit for the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience, while the ones experiencing the AMG GT S had the north circuit.
To be really honest with you guys, I was not expecting the acceleration to be that rapid. On paper, the AMG GT S does the century sprint in 3.8 seconds, but in reality, it’s a totally different experience all together. Peter gunned the throttle as he exited the pits, which resulted in me getting stuck to the Alcantara-wrapped bucket seats. The only word that can be used to describe the bi-turbo AMG GT S is brutal. Even with a downsized 4.0-litre V8 under the hood, the AMG GT S still packs a formidable punch.
With each upshift, the exhaust emits a lovely pop (or crackle, if you would), and the V8-powered G-forces pushes your body into the seats. As Peter approached turn 1, he rapidly decelerated, both with brakes and engine braking. If it wasn’t for the seat belts (which comes in a lovely shade of red), my face would have been smeared on the front windscreen. For the first lap, he took it easy through turn 1 to turn 2. Even as a passenger, I could feel the weight of the car shifting from right to left. Not a bad thing, since the car barely broke a sweat.
Upon entering turn 3, Peter eased off the throttle a bit, before gunning the AMG GT hard towards turn 4. Peter braked hard as he passed the brake markers on the left, flipped the paddle shifters a few times as the gearbox entered second gear. He clipped the apex and gunned for turn 5. Like turn 3, he eased off the throttle a bit, but I could still feel the brutal acceleration of the bi-turbo V8.
We hit the final straights after turning off turn 6, which gave Peter a chance to stretch the AMG GT S’s legs a bit. We managed to hit about 220 km/h on the straights, before he braked hard for turn 1. Peter was rather gentle for the first lap, and really gave it the beans on the second lap. Again, grip was aplenty, despite the AMG GT S being a rear-wheel drive. I could feel some oversteer as Peter exited turn 2, but it was really progressive.
I exited the AMG GT S with a broad smile on my face, which begs the question. Can money buy happiness? For the case of the Mercedes-AMG GT S, I certainly do think so. Now, let’s hop into a regular AMG model, shall we?
For the second half of the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience, we were directed to the south section of the Sepang International Circuit.
Here, I was picked to try out the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG with a driving instructor. The driving instructor gave very precise and clear instructions on the driving line, braking points and where to clip the apex on the south circuit. Driving the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG was quite an experience, with its tall-ish stance and sticky 235/40/R20 rubbers all round. For the south circuit, we had roughly 2.61 km of the track to play with.
Initial impressions of the GLA45 AMG is good, with sufficient power going to all four wheels coupled with a nicely weighted steering wheel. While the GLA45 AMG is marginally taller than the A45 AMG, the compact crossover is relatively nimble from turn to turn. Power figures are identical to the A45 AMG.
After the GLA45 AMG, I had the chance to try the hot-hatch from Mercedes-Benz, in the form of the A45 AMG. This fiery hatch has been reviewed on Autofreaks before, and now, it was my turn at the wheel.
It is no secret that I have been longing to try the A45 AMG, as it boasts one of the (if not the) most powerful force-induced two-litre engines around, with 360 hp at 6,000 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 2,250 rpm till 5,000 rpm. The only transmission choice offered here is Mercedes’ in-house 7G-Tronic dual clutch automatic with steering-mounted paddle shifters.
Well, 360 horsepower may pale in comparison to the AMG GT S’s 503 horsepower, but that’s not the point. After getting the seating position right, which incidentally the seat can go really low, I was off. In an A45 AMG. In Sepang. This is bound to be good.
We started off by gently leaving the pits along the last straight, before turning right towards turn 8. After the instructor up ahead gave us the greenlight to go for it, I gunned the throttle and chased down the instructor in his A250 ahead of me.
Like the Mercedes-AMG GT S, the A45 AMG’s exhaust also has the same pop when upshifting gears. Very addictive, this exhaust note and gearshifts sound. I braked hard, flipped the paddle shifters a few times and dropped into second gear as I entered turn 9, touching the apex and accelerated out hard. Turn 10 was right after turn 9, and this turn did not falter the A45 AMG one bit. The hot hatch from Mercedes-Benz kept its composure through turn 11 to turn 12 and turn 13, easing off the throttle when needed.
The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG’s steering is very well weighted, despite the lack of feedback from the front wheels. Through the corners, it is very much possible to do minute steering corrections without worrying that the car may spin out, while the bucket seats offers ample support, despite my rather small size. Suspension set up on the A45 AMG is spot on, even hitting some rumble strips on some corner apex did not unsettle the car.
On the straights, the A45 AMG can accelerate with immense urgency, thanks to the monster 450 Nm of torque. The speedometer’s needle almost touched 150 km/h before needing to brake into the side exit to turn 8. After getting used to the car, I tried pushing the car a bit more (still within the safe limits, of course), and found that the rear end does get twitchy when braking hard from higher speeds. Even so, through the long sweeping turns of 12 and 13, the car never fazed, and understeer was gradual, allowing me enough time to correct it.
At the end of the day, a newfound respect and admiration goes to the engineers who managed to develop such a cracking brilliant little hot hatch. The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is not flawless, but given the driving enjoyment and build quality, it is definitely justifiable. Sure, there were moments I wished I had some extra grunt, but rumours say that the A45 AMG facelift will boast up to 400 horsepower. Now, that is certainly one I would love to try.