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AMG working on 257kW pocket rocket

2011-04-21 07:27

MERC HOT HATCH?: Can AMG engineer dynamics to complement the A-Class concept’s striking looks?

The A-Class has never been Mercedes-Benz’s most renowned car.

It exhibited severe stability issues when executing emergency avoidance manoeuvres soon after its launch back in 1997, necessitating Mercedes-Benz to retrofit stability control and finesse the suspension. The fact that it is front-wheel drive has hardly endeared it to traditional fans of the three-pointed star.

Fact remains: the A-Class is not being discontinued and the third-generation model is due in 2012 – all Benz fans can hope for is that it starts growing-up to display characteristic engineering traits typical of the famous Stuttgart brand.

Despite an incongruous auto show debut in Shanghai – the A-Class concept would not start and was pushed into view by Mercedes-Benz executives – there is quite a lot to be excited about.

The concept’s car is boldly styled and although many of the details are not going to pass into production the overall silhouette is less MPV (bread van)-like than the current A-Class. In short, expect the next A-Class to look like a proper hatchback instead of a miniaturised Viano.

COUNTERING BMW's 1M

Beyond the prospect of improved styling courtesy of the A-Class concept, there is another (very) tasty rumour doing the rounds. Nothing adds credential to an entry-level product like a surfeit of senseless performance upgrades and to this end AMG technical personal are believed to be working in parallel with their colleagues in Stuttgart to develop a BMW 1M version of the new A-Class.

Although it does sound bizarre, the one market niche in which AMG does not retail a Mercedes-Benz product to rival BMW’s M-division is it compact segment.

Details are very much conjecture at this stage but don’t expect AMG’s signature 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 to find its way into the A-Class. Affalterbach will in all likelihood tinker (substantially) with Mercedes-Benz’s new two-litre turbocharged BlueEFFICIENCY engine, increasing output from 154kW to a monumental 257kW.

NEEDS AN AMG KIT: Mercedes-Benz executives were severely embarrassed when the new A-Class concept could not roll into view under its own power at the Shanghai auto show. Perhaps AMG can build something more reliable…

In a car as slight as the A-Class, 257kW will make for straight-line performance akin to an avalanche.

Suitably, AMG engineers are expected to rework the all-wheel drive system from Mercedes-Benz’s GLK for use in the A-Class AMG in an effort to deliver its huge reserves of power with some remnant of control.

This is, of course, not the first time a high-performance A-Class derivative has been engineered. Back in 1999 Mercedes-Benz built a twin-engined A190 for F1 world champion Mika Häkkinen. Powered by two 92kW engines, Häkkinen’s A190 was capable of 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. It remained a one-off though...

With the A-Class, then, it would appear that third time round will indeed be lucky – especially for performance fans who have yearned for an entry-level AMG for a (very) long time.
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