Mercedes-AMG has updated its GT sports car for 2019 and introduced a hardcore flagship – the Porsche-baiting AMG GT R Pro
Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach, more commonly known as AMG, can trace its roots back to 1965. To celebrate Mercedes-Benz at its most bonkers, we pick 25 of the best AMG cars.
AMG 300 SEL ‘Red Pig’ (1971)
Messrs Aufrecht and Melcher created the AMG Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 in 1971 and it finished second overall at the 24 Hours of Spa. The ‘Red Pig’ was the first major milestone on the AMG journey.
Mercedes-Benz 300 E 5.6 AMG (1986)
AMG moved to its current home in Affalterbach in 1976 and, 10 years later, created the 5.6-litre V8 300 E. At the time it was the fastest production saloon car in the world.
Mercedes-Benz 190 E AMG (1989)
The 225hp 190 E AMG is significant for being the first AMG model to be available through Mercedes-Benz dealerships and with a full M-B warranty.
Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG (1993)
The 280hp C 36 AMG of 1993 is even more significant, as it was the first AMG car to be jointly developed by Mercedes-Benz and AMG. Looks remarkably subtle by modern standards.
Mercedes-Benz SL 73 AMG (1995)
The SL 73 AMG is a rare beast, as only 85 were ever made. It was a tad heavy and very, very expensive, but who wouldn’t want a 7.3-litre V12 SL? With a fuel card, preferably.
Mercedes-Benz S 70 AMG (1996)
Talking of rarities, how about the S 70 AMG? Only 112 of these Autobahnstormers were built, each one with a 500-horsepower 7.0-liter V12 engine.
Mercedes-Benz C 43 AMG (1997)
The C 43 AMG of 1997 was a tad more affordable, but no less alluring. Available as a saloon or estate, it was powered by a V8 engine developing 306-horsepower.
Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR (1999)
The first of the Top Trumps-winning AMG cars. The CLK GTR was created for homologation purposes and only 26 were built (20 coupes, six roadsters).
Pagani Zonda C12 (1999)
Yes, we know the Pagani Zonda doesn’t wear an AMG badge, but it has the beating heart of Affalterbach. Power was sourced from the same 7.3-liter found in the earlier SL 73 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz E 55 AMG (2002)
The year 2002 was a big one for Mercedes-AMG. Five new models were launched, including the E 55 AMG super-saloon, which represents a formidable used car bargain.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2004)
Formula One technology and a hand-built supercharged AMG V8 engine. What’s not to like about the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren?
Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG (2004)
It’s hardly a name that rolls off the tongue, but the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG was capable of giving supercars a bloody nose. Top speed was knocking on 200mph and it would sprint to 60mph in 3.8 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series (2006)
The first Black Series car arrived in 2006, in the form of the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG. These track-focused special editions were designed for those who found ‘standard’ AMG products just a tad tame.
Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series (2007)
Designed to take on the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the CLK 63 AMG Black Series of 2007 was a brutal machine. Jeremy Clarkson bought one. And then complained about it. A lot.
Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Estate (2008)
There have been many Mercedes-AMG F1 safety cars over the years, but the C 63 AMG Estate is one of our favourites. Under the bonnet you’d find a hand-crafted 6.2-litre V8 engine. Nice.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (2009)
The gull-winged SLS was the first car developed entirely by AMG and was designed to be a successor to the SLR McLaren. It featured the same 6.2-litre engine you’d find in the C 63.
Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series (2009)
What an absolute legend of a car. Top speed limited to 199mph and a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds provide some clues as to this track warrior’s potential. It cost £250,000 when new.
Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG (2010)
One of the world’s greatest limos treated to a full-fat AMG makeover. What’s not to like about that? Later, it would be offered as a coupe, too.
Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe (2011)
Could this be one of the most accomplished AMG cars of all time? It was the last AMG C-class to have a naturally-aspirated engine, meaning superb throttle response.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster (2012)
How would sir like his SLS? Coupe, with the iconic gullwing doors? Or Roadster, to enjoy the magnificence of the 6.3-litre V8 engine? We’d take the latter, please.
Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG (2013)
Mercedes-Benz has been accused of diluting the AMG brand in recent years, but the A 45 AMG proves it can also get it right. This is a hot hatch, AMG-style. Bonkers, but brilliant.
Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6×6 (2013)
And speaking of bonkers… We could have included the ‘normal’ G 63 AMG, but that would be foolish when there’s a 6×6 in existence.
Mercedes-AMG C 63 AMG (2015)
For similar reasons, we’d probably opt for the estate version of the current C 63 AMG. The modern version isn’t quite a match for its forebears, but it remains a formidable machine.
Mercedes-AMG GT S (2015)
And then there’s the achingly good looking Mercedes-AMG GT S. It boasts a fantastic chassis and a soundtrack to rival that of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Mercedes-AMG GT R (2016)
In June 2016, none other than Lewis Hamilton helped Mercedes-AMG reveal a new 585hp AMG GT R. This is the AMG GT at its most hardcore, with a stiffer chassis, rear-wheel steering and a huge wing. How does 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 197mph grab you?
- Track test: which is the best Mercedes-AMG GT?
- Mercedes-AMG GLA45: the quickest ugly car on sale
- Mercedes-Benz EQC electric SUV is Germany’s first response to Tesla and Jaguar
Has there ever been a car with more breadth to its range than the Mercedes CLK? Whether you’re loitering around the bargain basement section of Gumtree or acting as the Sultan of Brunei’s personal shopper, there’s a Coupe Leicht Kompakt for you.
CLK ownership starts at £500, assuming you’re prepared to put up with a less than perfect body and more miles than a New York taxi. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the mighty CLK GTR, one of which sold at auction three years ago for £1.5 million.
Not that you require the Sultan’s wallet to put a performance CLK in your garage. The best part of £350,000 should be enough to secure two of the most coveted fast Mercs of the 21st century.
Choosing between the CLK63 AMG Black and the CLK DTM AMG is a little like deciding whether to take Peter Kay or Dawn French to Alton Towers. Either way, you’re going to spend the day grinning from ear to ear. We take a look at two stars of the Silverstone Auctions’ May sale.
Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG: £180,000 – £220,000
Taking the GTR out of the equation – not least because it’s as far removed from the standard car as you are from a place on Harry and Meghan’s guest list – the DTM AMG is the daddy of the CLK range.
Not that the CLK DTM would be welcome at a royal wedding: it’s too uncouth, too much of a brute, far too laddish to cope with such formalities. It would leave the bride standing at the altar, dropping a number 11 on the tarmac as it weaves away from the chapel, emitting more smoke than the row of e-cigarette vapers waiting at the bus stop.
Launched in 2004, the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG, to use its full name, was inspired by the racing version of the CLK. A year earlier, Bernd Schneider clinched the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) title at Hockenheim – the final race of the season – finishing ahead of Dutchman Christijan Albers to secure his fourth drivers’ title.
But while DTM regulations meant that the race car was forced to ‘make do’ with a 4.0-litre V8 engine, AMG was free to use a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 in the road-going version. With 582hp on tap, it’s the most potent CLK this side of the GTR, with an ability to hit 62mph from rest in 3.9 seconds, before reaching a top speed nudging 200mph.
Those are staggering figures from a vehicle built with the primary aims of cruising tree-lined boulevards or looking good parked outside the tanning salon. To the majority of the orange folk sat inside the shop waiting to be Tangoed, the DTM AMG might seem like a regular CLK with a body kit. But as Tinder users will testify, looks can be deceptive.
AMG went to great lengths to build a clichéd ‘race car for the road’. Many of the body panels and interior parts were constructed from carbon fibre, while the engineers modified the engine and supercharger, redesigned the suspension, and fitted height-adjustable springs and shock absorbers.
The clues lie in the pumped-up bodywork. From the deeper front apron to the large intake ducts, and the flared wheelarches to the boot-mounted rear wing, everything screams ‘DTM’. The perfect look if you’re hoping to frustrate a flying Dutchman on the commute to the office.
Mercedes demanded a not-insubstantial £180,000 for the CLK DTM, but such was its supercar-taming tendencies, all 100 cars sold out immediately. A further 80 cabriolets were built, but a total of just 40 DTM models were right-hand drive, making this an incredibly rare opportunity.
According to Silverstone Auctions, the 7,580-mile example “must rank as one of the best” and is “by far one of the most exclusive and sought-after limited-edition Mercedes-Benz models of recent years, and one we feel has an excellent future in the classic car market.”
The pre-auction estimate would suggest that the market is pretty flat, as an 8,490-mile example fetched £225,500 at a Bonhams sale in 2015. That said, this is one AMG product that has done pretty well at holding its value. You can thank its motorsport provenance, race-bred engineering and thunderous pace for that.
Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series: £110,000 – £125,000
If, unlike Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, you missed out on a new DTM, you didn’t have long to wait before Mercedes unleashed a second wave of CLK madness. The CLK63 AMG Black Series was AMG’s way of saying “Happy 40th Birthday” to itself.
It had a high-profile gestation period. By the time it was unveiled at the 2007 New York Auto Show, the CLK63 AMG Black had been on parade as the F1 safety car, which is a more impressive teaser campaign than a series of social media tweets and ‘spy’ shots.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find one of the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engines in the world: the 6.2-litre M156. It was the first unit to be designed entirely by AMG and remains one of the best engines in the world. This alone would make the CLK63 AMG Black a special car.
But there’s more, because the Black was treated to larger vented and composite disc brakes, a sports exhaust, adjustable suspension, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, and a limited-slip rear differential with its own cooling system.
Its seven-speed automatic transmission was tweaked for greater response times, while aluminium shift paddles were mounted on the irregular-shaped 14.1-inch DMT-style steering wheel. Almost everything was designed to deliver the most hardcore driving experience.
The result is a car that will react to steering inputs quicker than a bluebottle being chased by a fly-swatter, and a ride so stiff you’ll need to carry your chiropractor’s business card in the Black’s glovebox. Note the array of blank switches on the centre console: Mercedes went to great lengths to offset the additional weight added by the differential and wider rear axle.
There are no rear seats, while a strengthing bar in the boot is another feature you won’t find in the regular CLK63. On the outside, AMG opted for a subtle approach to the styling, with the bulging wheel arches, rear spoiler and 19-inch forged alloy wheels the most obvious clues to this car’s potency.
It was certainly potent. With 507hp and 465lb ft of torque on tap, the Black could accelerate to 62mph in 4.3 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 186mph, delivered with one of the most evocative soundtracks in the business.
Just 700 examples were produced, of which around 25 are thought to have been sold in the UK. New, a CLK63 AMG Black would have set you back circa £100,000, but Silverstone Auctions is offering this 4,000-mile example with a pre-auction estimate of £110,000 to £125,000.
The final reckoning: DTM or Black?
We’re left with one fundamental question. No, not who to take to Alton Towers, but which bonkers CLK should you buy? We suspect Jeremy Clarkson might opt for the Black.
In 2008, he said: “For sheer excitement, the CLK Black is a match for absolutely anything. Since it went back to Mercedes, I have been thinking about it a lot. Because I’m not sure that anyone’s life is quite complete unless they have one.”
Mercedes actually included a letter with its test cars, which described the Black as “savage”, “aggressive”, “extremely lively” and “quite tail-happy”. There was even a warning to keep the traction control switched on. Needless to say, Jeremy Clarkson bought one. His time with the Black wasn’t without issues, but the fact that he kept it until 2015 tells you a great deal about the car.
Sad day. I just sold my AMG black.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) June 1, 2015
As for us, the question is rhetorical, as we’re without the funds to buy the auction stars. Instead, we’re eyeing up a CLK320 for sale on Auto Trader for £495. The rusty arches and parcel tape on the bumpers are strong features, right? What could possibly go wrong?
Don’t answer that.
Making a road car inspired by an F1 racer is one thing. Building one that uses the same 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 as an actual grand prix car is another thing entirely. However, that’s exactly what powers the new Mercedes-AMG Project One.
More Frankfurt Motor Show on MR:
Strictly speaking, it’s not 100% identical to the engine found in the cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. For a start, the internal combustion engine is tuned to use super unleaded petrol, whilst the rev limit is turned down to just 11,000rpm to promote longevity.
Like an F1 car there is hybrid power, with four electric motors featured on the Project One. Each front wheel is powered by an individual 120kW motor, whilst the single turbocharger is also boosted by an electric motor.. The fourth motor is attached directly to the engine, and operates like the MGU-K device in the F1 car, to aid acceleration.
One thousand horses
It sounds complicated, and clearly is, but the headline figure is a combined total power output in excess of 1,000hp. That might be less than a Bugatti Chiron, but the lightweight carbon fibre construction and eight-speed paddle-shift gearbox hardly make that a disadvantage.
Lapping up the power
The sprint from 0-124mph is claimed to take just six seconds, with a top speed in excess of 218mph. Rather impressive from a vehicle than can still cover 16 miles on electric power alone.
Controlling all this power is a three-stage ESP system, which includes the option to be completely turned off. There’s also ABS for the carbon ceramic brakes, and the ability for the for torque vectoring from the electric motors. Combine this with a two-stage deployable rear wing and the Project One should be driveable by mere mortals.
No team orders
Despite the carbon-clad exterior, Mercedes-AMG has kept the Project One relatively civil inside with air conditioning and a 12-inch infotainment display. There’s even room for a brave, or foolish, passenger to join in the fun.
At present, Mercedes-AMG is calling the Project One a concept, and plans to take another 18 months to develop the finished road car. However, 275 lucky buyers will get to take home this show-stopper in 2019.
Unless you’re Greenpeace, it won’t have gone unnoticed that electrification was a big part of the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. From Volkswagen’s commitment to become a new leader in electric vehicles, to concept offerings from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, battery and hybrid power was everywhere.
The fallout from dieselgate, plus the recent announcement of plans to ban the sale of new combustion-engine-only cars in the UK by 2040, has resulted in a big rise in car buyers interested in alternatively-fuelled vehicles. But that doesn’t mean manufacturers haven’t got work to do in promoting their newly electrified products.
Using motorsport to sell cars is nothing new, but Frankfurt 2017 saw two alternative takes, one from Jaguar and the other from Mercedes-AMG, on pushing the electrification message through the lure of racing.
More Frankfurt Motor Show on MR:
Assault and batteries
Jaguar announced the creation of the first production-based race series for electric vehicles with the I-Pace eTrophy, set to launch at the end of 2018. Set to support the FIA Formula E Series, the eTrophy will pitch 20 identical I-Paces against each other, with VIP guest drivers thrown into the mix as well.
It’s a bold strategy, especially for a car that won’t make it into the hands of the general public until 2018. The key to the eTrophy is that it seeks to make electrification appear normal. Formula E has tried hard, but issues like needing to change cars mid-race have hardly helped its image.
The eTrophy has the potential to become a battery-powered BTCC. For Jaguar it creates a very simple link between the race car people can watch on TV, and one they can head to their local dealership and buy.
Casserole of complexity
In contrast, Mercedes-AMG has used the hybrid powertrain from a contemporary Formula 1 racer to create the Project One: possibly the biggest talking point of the Frankfurt show. The headline-grabbing 1,000hp peak power figure is imposing, but wading through the details of how it achieves that output is a challenge in itself.
Four electric motors, including an electrically-assisted turbocharger, and an 11,000rpm rev limit for the petrol engine sound impressive and intricate in equal measure. It’s less the fault of Mercedes, and more the issue with the current Formula 1 engine regulations that have created such a casserole of complexity.
The right formula?
The grid-place penalty debacle at the Italian Grand Prix highlighted the mess the current engine situation in F1 has become, one not helped by the reliability woes affecting Renault and Honda. Putting a current Formula 1 car engine into a road-going machine is a brave move, even for the manufacturer dominating the sport at present.
Mercedes-AMG promises that the lessons learned from the development of the Project One will translate into better road car technology, which forms part of the company’s commitment to increased electrification. This may be so, but trying to forge the links between race and road seem a lot harder with the Project One, despite the fact it has an actual motorsport-derived power unit.
Increased electrification is an unstoppable reality, and motorsport can play a key part in showing that it doesn’t have to be hair-shirted and dull. Car manufacturers just need to ensure that buyers can make and understand the connection between road and track.
While the attention at Frankfurt may seem geared to an electrified future, that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from showing off new performance hardware. From F1-inspired hypercars to American muscle, there is horsepower for every budget at this year’s IAA show.
More news on MR:
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring
Porsche knows its buyers want the performance of the hardcore 911 GT3, but without the extravagant aerodynamic appendages. The limited-edition 911 R also proved just how keen enthusiasts were for a manual GT3, with Porsche combining the two ideas into one special Touring Package option. Unlike the 911 R, there are no limits on numbers here – thus enabling as many Porsche purists as possible to buy one.
Out goes the giant rear wing, and in comes a tiny Gurney flap to provide downforce instead. Although the front bumper from the regular GT3 remains, the overall effect is a far subtler-looking 911. Inside is luxurious leather in place of Alcantara, but the heart of the GT3 stays the same, with the 4.0-litre flat-six engine still producing 500hp.
Audi R8 V10 RWS
Whilst Porsche is making cars for purists available to all, Audi is doing the opposite with special limited-edition version of the R8 V10 supercar. Despite being known for Quattro all-wheel drive, Audi has ditched the front differential for the R8 Rear Wheel Series, mirroring the drivetrain used by the successful R8 LMS racing cars. Audi also argues that the steering is purer in the RWS without power being sent to the front wheels.
Shifting to just rear-wheel drive helps save up to 50kg of weight from the R8, while the same 540hp 5.2-litre V10 engine used in the normal car remains. Set to be limited to just 999 units, and covering both coupe and Spyder versions, the R8 RWS can be ordered from Friday, with a starting price of £110,000 in the UK.
Mercedes-AMG Project One
As a showstopper, the Mercedes-AMG Project One might just take the crown at Frankfurt 2017. Its the closest thing yet to a road-going Formula 1 car: extreme to the max. Powered by a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engine from an actual F1 racer, combined with four electric motors, the mid-engined Project One has a peak power output in excess of 1,000hp.
Top speed is estimated at around 220mph, with 0-124mph taking less than six seconds. A giant two-stage extending rear wing should provide substantial levels of downforce, while torque vectoring and ESP should help keep all that power under control. Although the interior is minimalist, there’s still room for air conditioning and an infotainment system. The Project One is currently pegged as a concept, but production looks guaranteed for 2019.
Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster
After making revisions to the coupe version, Lamborghini has extended its enhancements to the open-top Aventador as well. ‘S’ specification brings more power for the naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 engine, with peak output now boosted to a faintly ridiculous 730hp, with 507lb ft of torque. Hitting 62mph in 3.0 seconds is a rapid way to mess up your hair, while a top speed of 217mph is also a big deal.
The Aventador S isn’t just about performance in a straight line, with changes to the chassis as well. The suspension is completely overhauled for greater focus, while a new four-wheel steering system is taken from the coupe version. Also added is the ability to customise the Aventador S to the owner’s exacting standards with the Ad Personam programme, which includes a range of special colours and interior trims developed just for the Roadster
Bentley Continental GT
Thoroughly updated for a third-generation, the all-new Continental GT matches a sleeker design with even greater luxury. The looks are inspired by the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car shown at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, with a new aluminium forming technique used to create the complex shapes. It also helps save some 80kg in weight compared to the outgoing second-generation machine.
Under the bonnet is an updated version of the turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine, with some 626hp and 664lb ft of torque. With all-wheel drive, and an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, all that power is enough for 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, plus a top speed of 207 mph. The main party piece is an optional rotating display, which hides a 12.3-inch touchscreen behind a veneer panel in the dashboard until the car is started.
Ford Mustang V8
It might seem like the Mustang has only been on sale in Europe for a short period of time, but progress doesn’t stop. As part of the 2018 model year update, the revised 5.0-litre V8 Mustang gets more power with 450hp, and the option of a 10-speed automatic gearbox. The styling has also been updated, with a longer, drooping nose and V8-powered versions gaining four exhaust tailpipes as standard. New colour choices include the extravagant Orange Fury, with polished aluminium and nickel colour options offered for the alloy wheels.
Underneath the revised body is an updated interior, which now gives UK customers the option to specify Recaro bucket seats for the first time. Magnetic suspension dampers are also on the options list, while a novel ‘Good Neighbour Mode’ allows the exhaust system to be quietened down to avoid annoying everyone around you. A 12-inch touchscreen is also new, with the possibility of replacing the conventional instrument dials with an LCD screen also on the cards. European deliveries will begin in 2018.
Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet
Excess all areas, baby. Maybach’s yacht-like 6 Cabriolet ‘Vision’ (Mercedes-speak for a concept) is 5.7 metres long and only has two seats. Those fabulous 24-inch alloys have an electric motor each, with a combined total of 750hp. Claimed NEDC range is 310 miles.
We’re unlikely to see a production version of the 6 Cabriolet anytime soon. But it’s a fabulous mission statement for the relaunched Maybach sub-brand – and one that could inspire, for example, ultra-luxurious versions of the SL and S-Class Cabriolet. Watch this space.
The BMW M5 is a supercar in a suit. It packs a 600hp 4.4-litre V8 and four-wheel drive for 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. It also, like the Mustang, has a button to make the exhaust quieter. Yep, this is a Porsche-slayer with a social conscience.
You can spot the M5 by its more aggressive bumpers, bespoke alloys and quad exhausts. Inside, you’ll find electric sports seats and an eight-speed semi-automatic gearbox (there’s no manual option). Prices for the new M5 start from £89,640 – almost £40,000 more than the current top-of-the-range 5 Series.
Say goodbye to the California T, and hello to the brand-new Ferrari Portofino. As the new entry-level offering in the Ferrari range, the biggest news is an updated aluminium chassis, and styling that has been influenced by the GTC4Lusso. It’s a more resolved and cohesive design, both with the folding metal roof up and down.
Beneath the lengthy bonnet is the same 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 as before, but now with more power to take the total output to 600hp. That’s more than sufficient for a 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds, and a 199mph top speed. Ferrari also claims to have tuned the exhaust for more aural excitement, but if you somehow get bored of engine noise, a new 10.2-inch touchscreen is on hand to control the multimedia system.
Audi RS4 Avant
Set to reclaim the motoring journalism cliche of “all the car you’ll ever need” is the latest generation of Audi’s compact performance estate. Things have gone completely full-circle, with a return to a turbocharged V6 engine – just the like the original launched in 1999. Unlike that car, the new RS4 has 444hp and an impressive 443lb ft of torque, which represents an increase of some 125lb ft over the previous V8 version. Performance improves, with 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph.
Despite the extra performance on offer, the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 is said to be some 17% more efficient than the old V8-powered car. New sports suspension lowers the RS4 by 7mm, while Dynamic Ride Control and carbon ceramic brakes are on the options list. Iconic Nogaro Blue paintwork will be available from the outset when orders begin later in the autumn, with first customer deliveries expected in early 2018.
BMW 8 Series
The 8 Series concept is a stylish and not-very-subtle hint about how BMW’s forthcoming flagship coupe will look. And the answer is: ‘a lot like an Aston Martin’, especially from the rear. But that’s no bad thing. Saloon (Gran Coupe?) and convertible versions are mooted, too.
There’s no word yet on powertrains, but a plug-in hybrid looks likely – and buyers will be offered a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Don’t expect to see the finished article until 2019, though. We can’t wait.
From wild supercars you can’t buy, to four-door saloons you can, we’ve selected the best performance cars at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
- Paris Motor Show 2016: all the cars
- 2016 Paris Motor Show: the best concept cars
- More Paris Motor Show news on Motoring Research
Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T
The Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T is likely to make some enthusiasts V happy. Ferrari has ditched the complex four-wheel-drive system in favour of a purer, more agile rear-wheel-drive setup. Great news, then? There is one catch…
Gone is the naturally-aspirated V12 engine in favour of a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8. Now you know what the T in GTC4 Lusso stands for. But don’t worry, if you’re not turned on by the thought of a turbocharged Ferrari, the ‘standard’ GTC4 Lusso is still available.
Audi RS3 saloon
If you thought compact saloons were all beige interiors, comfortable cardigans and trips to the bowls club, think again. This is the snarling Audi RS3 saloon that’s likely to make a few people think twice before signing that finance deal on a Golf R.
The figures are nothing short of astonishing: 400hp – yes, four hundred – 0-60mph in a little over four seconds, and four-wheel drive. Best of all, it’s powered by a 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, so it will sound fantastic as you cruise the mean streets of suburbia. This might be the car we’d most like to leave Paris in.
MINI Clubman JCW
Question: name a car you can buy with six doors, all-wheel drive, 231hp and 258lb ft of torque that will cost around £30,000. The answer is the new MINI Clubman JCW.
It features all the familiar JCW upgrades, so you can rest assured that the brakes, suspension and cooling have been sorted. MINI claims the JCW will sprint to 62mph in 6.3 seconds, helped in no small part by the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system.
Mercedes-AMG GT R
The ‘beast from the Green Hell’ was certainly the brightest performance car at the Paris Motor Show. But far from being all show and no go, the Mercedes-AMG GT R packs a mighty 577hp 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, developing 577hp.
Alongside the GT R, Mercedes-AMG also showcased the new GT Roadster and GT C Roadster. It has promised to build 48 new AMG and AMG Line models over the coming 12 months, so we hope you like what you see.
Porsche 919 Hybrid
Last week, the Porsche 919 Hybrid grabbed the headlines when Mark Webber drove this Le Mans car through the streets of a sleepy London.
This was a chance to see a Porsche 919 Hybrid in a more sedate environment. The turbocharged V4 engine develops around 900hp and weighs 875kg. We did volunteer to take it for an early morning tour of Paris, but Porsche wasn’t keen.
Ferrari F12 Berlinetta 70
How do you celebrate your 70th anniversary? Invite a few friends to the village hall and spend a few quid on party food at Iceland? Not if you’re Ferrari. Next year, the Italian firm will be 70 years old, and to mark the occasion it has been looking through its photo album of iconic liveries.
Keen not to do things by half, Ferrari will recreate 70 individual liveries, to be used to create a maximum of 350 unique cars. This is ‘The Stirling’, which is inspired by the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB: winner of the 1961 Tourist Trophy with Stirling Moss at the wheel.
Thought Hyundai was all five-year warranties and dependability? Yeah, that causes a problem for Hyundai, as it wants to prove it is able to let its hair down once in a while. The RN30 is like Colin the accountant announcing his resignation in order to take up cage fighting.
Believe it or not, underneath that ‘expensive running shoes’ exterior you’ll find a humble i30. Its four-cylinder engine is chucking out a mighty 375hp and 333lb ft of torque, combining to create the wildest Hyundai the world has ever seen. It previews the company’s first performance N car, although we doubt the i30N will look quite this menacing. Somebody think of the children.
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
For those who are about to race, the announcement of a new Porsche racing car is a big deal. The new 911 GT3 Cup is powered by a 4.0-litre flat-six engine developing 485hp – 25hp more than the outgoing GT3 Cup.
The huge rear wing lets the world know you’re a serious racer, while Porsche claims to have made significant changes under the skin, designed to improve reliability and make it easier for track-side maintenance.
Honda Civic Type R
Few cars here in Paris have divided opinion quite like the Honda Civic Type R, but you need to get used to it because it’s coming fast – quite literally. Officially, the Paris show car is a concept, but it looks production-ready to us. In fact, it’s likely to make its debut at the SEMA show in November.
Honda hasn’t announced any performance figures, but you can’t dress up a car like Mr Angry without loading it with aggression. Besides, the Focus RS beat the current Type R in a punch-up and Honda isn’t about to let that happen again.
Ferrari 488 Spider 70
Oh look, another one of those Ferrari party celebration cars. Whether they fall under ‘class’ or ‘crass’ is a matter for debate, but needless to say some look better than others. This is the 488 Spider, aka ‘The Green Jewel’, inspired by the green livery of the 365 P2 fielded by the David Piper Racing team.
Ferrari at 70
Here are five examples for your viewing pleasure. Next year, Ferrari will embark on a world tour spanning 60 different countries.
Peugeot 3008 DKR
The name says 3008, but the DKR has virtually nothing in common with the new Peugeot 3008 that’s coming to a supermarket car park near you. Sadly, your friendly Peugeot dealer won’t be offering a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel option.
That means you won’t be able to enjoy 340hp and 590lb ft of torque, not to mention an ability to drive over pretty much anything. Sand dunes, mountains, canyons, speed bumps – all no problem for the 3008 DKR, which starts its racing career next month.
Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta
It wouldn’t be an international motor show without a car that is already sold out. The Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta is just like the regular LaFerrari, only with less roof. As you may have guessed, all 208 units have been spoken for. If your name’s not down…
Ferrari claims the Aperta retains the torsional rigidity of the tin-top version, which is a claim we’d like to test. Unfortunately, our name wasn’t down.
Before you say anything, we know, the Renault Trezor is just a concept. But we figured the more buzz it receives, the more chance it has of making production. Besides, we’re happy to keep looking at it.
The photos don’t do it justice, so we’d encourage you to visit the Paris Motor Show, if only to gawp at its majesty. Keep an eye on the next Hot Wheels catalogue, because the Trezor is a sure-fire winner.
Jaguar F-Type SVR
Another candidate for the list of cars we’d most like to leave Paris in: this is the storming SVR version of the Jaguar F-Type. We figure the short hop from Paris to Blighty would give us ample opportunity to enjoy the 575hp from its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine.
That active rear spoiler deploys at 60mph and combines with the flat underbody to give a top speed of 200mph.
The big news from BMW is the announcement of a new and improved i3, with 50% more range. But three years on from its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the i8 remains every inch the showstopper.
In Paris, BMW unveiled a new Protonic Dark Silver Edition, which is set to go into production in December. It’s the colour Batman would choose, probably.
Ferrari 488 GTB 70
This is a ‘Ferrari at 70’ model we can get behind. It’s called ‘The Schumacher’ and, as its name suggests, it pays homage to Michael Schumacher’s F2003-GA of 2003.
Abarth 124 Spider
Proof that good fun can come in small packages? This is the Abarth 124 Spider, complete with 1.4-litre MultiAir turbocharged engine developing 170hp. To our eyes, the Abarth looks streets ahead of its Fiat sibling, and the sub-seven-seconds 0-62mph time is a reason to be cheerful. As is the black bonnet.
Another motor show, another chance to see the Honda NSX. It feels like thing has done more shows than the Suzuki Jimny. First drives are taking place as we type. Soon you’ll be able to drive one for yourself.
This is the car Infiniti hopes will steal sales from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and BMW 4 Series. It’s called the Q60 and it’s the first Infiniti to be powered by a twin-turbocharged engine. One is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder developing 211hp, but the other is a snarling 3.0-litre V6 with a mighty 405hp. Colour us intrigued.
The original A45 could hardly be accused of lacking focus or performance, but this ‘entry-level’ AMG product now cements its place as the most powerful compact hatchback on sale, with 376hp.
However, being top dog comes at a cost, literally, in the form of a big price tag. At £40,000, expectations are set high.
What are its rivals?
With the Audi RS3 currently off the market while it undergoes a facelift, the closest rivals to the AMG A45 cost almost £10,000 less.
The £31,000 Volkswagen Golf R is proving popular, through a combination of pace and pricing. It too packs a 4WD system, but can’t match the rabid pace of the A45. Ford’s Focus RS is impossible to ignore, but badge snobbery may put some people off – despite a bargain cost of £29,995.
Honda’s front-wheel-drive Civic Type R also cuts under the £30,000 mark, but might not be the best investment for those who want to don’t want to attract attention. And the rear-wheel-drive BMW M140i has a six-cylinder engine and premium badge, if not quite the same pace as the Mercedes. It starts at nearly £32,000.
Which engine does it use?
Proving that this isn’t just a hotted-up A-Class, but a genuine AMG product, the A45 features a hand-built 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The ‘one man, one engine’ philosophy means each unit comes with a signed plaque on the engine cover, letting you know who put it together.
With 376hp and 350lb ft of torque, this is a serious motor. The 0-62mph sprint takes a scant 4.2 seconds, and top speed is limited to 155mph. A 4Matic AWD system has the job of channelling all that power to the wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch ‘AMG Speedshift’ gearbox, with steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
What’s it like to drive?
Fast. Very fast. In fact, almost incomprehensibly fast the first time you give it full throttle in Sport or Sport+ mode. There’s some minor turbo lag, but then the A45 unleashes everything in a way that’ll have you clinging to the AMG GT supercar steering wheel. It pulls all the way through the rev range, and feels every bit as rapid as the stats say it is. Such is the brutal ferocity of the way the A45 accelerates, you’ll be left in no doubt this isn’t just a normal hot hatch.
Gearshifts are rapid, whether the transmission is left in automatic or by using the manual paddles. Upshifts feature a pleasing crackle from the sports exhaust, while downshifts get a cheeky blip of the throttle, too. The noise made by the A45 is addictive, but can be muted by selecting Comfort mode.
The ride is firm, but not uncomfortably harsh, and improves as the speed rises. There’s a feeling of infinite grip, matched with impressive traction from the AWD system. And while the steering lacks feel, it does at least weight-up accurately. Braking is as impressive, as you would imagine from a set-up that features big calipers and drilled discs.
Fuel economy and running costs
Despite having the performance of a 1990’s supercar, the A45 doesn’t have the matching thirst. Official combined fuel economy is rated as 40.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 162g/km for cars wearing 18-inch wheels.
In the real world, that translates to around 30mpg when cruising, but will drop further when you’re making use of all 376hp. There’s only so much a standard stop-start system can do.
Band G road tax (VED) means £185 a year, although be careful if you specify 19-inch wheels, as this pushes the A45 into the £220 Band H due to increased CO2 emissions.
Is it practical?
Being based on a regular C-segment family hatchback means the AMG A45 benefits from the same five doors and usable boot as the normal A-Class. It’s perfectly capable of being used every day, especially with AMG mode in the Comfort setting.
There’s 341 litres of luggage space in the boot, increased to 1,157 litres with the rear seats folded down. Rear-seat space is adequate, although passengers may feel slightly claustrophobic on account of the high-backed bucket seats in the front and the A45’s shallow window line. They might also complain if you unleash the full potential of the AMG engine without warning…
What about safety?
Beneath all the wings and spoilers, this is still a Mercedes, so safety hasn’t been forgotten in the quest for speed.
The basic A-Class gained the full five stars in Euro NCAP tests, so it’s already starting from the best possible place. Add in a three-stage ESP system, collision prevention warning, brake assist and fatigue awareness, and the A45 racks up many points in the safety stakes.
Also, as a Mercedes-AMG buyer, you’ll have the chance to attend the AMG Driving Academy, giving you one-to-one tuition in how best to handle your new car.
Which version should I go for?
There’s only one version, so it’s a question of how far into the options list you want to go.
As standard there’s cruise control, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio, LED headlights and taillights, auto-dimming mirrors, even illuminated AMG-branded door sills. You’ll also find a standard 8-inch media display, with satellite navigation, which looks like an iPad but isn’t. You’ll undoubtedly learn this after several stabs at it, literally, until realising you need to use the rotary controller instead. Don’t forget the high-back bucket seats, which will make you feel like you’re in a BTCC racer, and do very much fit the price tag.
The sports exhaust adds £510, while that huge rear spoiler costs an eye-watering £1,530. We would avoid the carbon fibre wing mirror covers, as they add on £1,230! There is a genuine risk of specifying a hatchback that costs the best part of £50,000 here.
Should I buy one?
The Mercedes-AMG A45 is a staggering car to drive, with explosive performance and extraordinary levels of grip and traction. Driving cross-country, it could easily surprise and embarrass supercars costing several times more.
Cost is perhaps the biggest barrier as, on a purely objective level, a Focus RS or Golf R can do 90% of what the A45 offers for £10,000 less. But for some there will be the overriding allure of owning a genuine AMG product, even if it doesn’t feature a high-capacity V8 engine.
So, if you can afford it and want the ultimate performance hatchback, the AMG A45 is certainly one to consider.
The A45 isn’t the first quick A-Class. Back in 1998, AMG decided the best way to make the original elk-worrying A-Class quicker was by adding a second engine. By slotting one 1.9-litre engine under the bonnet, and another one in the boot, the 250hp 4WD A38 was born. McLaren-Mercedes F1 driver Mika Häkkinen seemed suitably thrilled by the idea, it appears.
About Motoring Research
Motoring Research is a multimedia publisher that’s been delivering the goods to clients since 1986.
We are growing fast, developing the Motoring Research Network of freelancers around our highly experienced in-house team. Together, we have more than half a century’s experience of motoring journalism…
Recent Car News
- GEM4 in 10 motorists want elderly drivers OFF the roadFebruary 20, 2019 - 6:43 am
- VolkswagenSearches for used diesels at a record lowFebruary 19, 2019 - 5:14 pm
- DK Engineering and Tim Scott PhotographyBeautiful Dino 246 GT headlines our 2019 Race Retro auction previewFebruary 19, 2019 - 5:02 pm
- PeugeotHammer time: Peugeot gets tooled upFebruary 19, 2019 - 4:16 pm
Herts AL5 1TE
Phone: +44 (0) 1582 761625