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      07-03-2013, 05:54 AM   #1
TMP
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Lightbulb A45 AMG Test drive and compared to my M135i

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Ok, so had a good 25 min A/B road test in the A45 AMG. I went into this with an open mind, having had the M135i for 9 months and was actually expecting to want to buy one at the end of the drive!

I was wrong, in summary I was underwhelmed and bizarrely (based on my expectations from the recent reviews) it felt slower than the M135i.

I am only going to cover the key differences in my view, and some of those could be more generic Merc vs BMW as well.




HANDLING - Winner: Draw

I drove the car quite fast for the roads, but got nowhere near the limit. It's well balanced and enjoyable, even with a firmer standard set-up than the M135i . I think the M135i in sport (adaptive) mode is better dampered though as the A45 did seem a bit jittery.

The steering (which I think is electric as well) felt good (I must be getting used to the electric set-up now), but perhaps could have done with more feel/communication.

The brakes seems very responsive as well and seemed more sensitive than the M135i.

I like 4WD, and being able to use all the power, even when it was raining, was refreshing and reminded me of my old Scooby.

Overall though, when pushing on normal roads, both cars are great!


ENGINE - Winner M135i

First the engine sound - not too keen on this at all (see cold start vid). I think this is the weakest link on the 40k car. It's a good engine, but does sound a bit boomey and lacks character. I actually cringed (with windows down) when holding onto revs at 4.5k in 2nd gear around a series of tight corners …that is not good for a performance car.



There is a lot less rear sound insulation, so you can hear all the pops and overruns which is great. as we know the exhaust sound could be louder on the M135i.

Also can't believe the rev limiter kicks in at 6.5k revs! Several times I ran into it, due to the shorter range compared to the 7k red line / 7.2k limiter in the Mlite. Of course this also shows the A45 is very free revving and gets to the red line quickly (once the turbo kicks in).

It's a good 4 cylinder engine, but just doesn't have the character of the banshee 6 cylinder M135i unit.


PERFORMANCE - Winner …???

This one I can only judge on what I felt. I was surprised about the lack of torque low down, really not much pull between 1.5-3k e.g the M135i pulls strongly in 4th at 2k revs, the A45 is very sluggish - I assume this is the trade-off for the big turbo, smaller 2L size.

When you do get in the zone, working the auto, it's of course rapid quick but I never felt "wow, this is amazing." It just didn't seem to push me back into the seat as it should.

The 7 speed DCT auto is good, and on hard acceleration is nice and savage on the upshifts (with the accompanying Brp/bang noises :-) ) I still preferred the BMW 8 Speed auto though, as a couple of times the A45 box did lag as mentioned in the reviews.

So overall, it felt slower than my M135i - and this just cannot be right if the stats are 4.1s to 60mph. Was i expecting too much here….hence my "???" on the winner.


LOOKS - Winner A45

The A45 does look pretty special and has lots of AMG details (e.g. front splitter) and nice touches to separate it from lesser A's. Overall, I think it has the edge and looks more special than the M135i.


INTERIOR - Winner M135i

I am not the biggest fan of the M135i interior, but compared to the A45 it's a step above in my view. Fake carbon trim, red seat belts and air vents surround just look a bit, well…..out of place on a 40k AMG.



The worse feature is the 'stuck on' Sat Nav screen which is not angled towards the driver, like in the M135i.. In fact, the whole dash did not feel quite as driver oriented as it should. However, if you like Mercs I think you would find the interior layout fine. I personally struggled with the rev counter - the needle starts at a low position, so 1k revs is at position 7 o'clock (if that makes sense).





The saving grace for the A45 are the amazing bucket seats, now they do make you feel like you are in a 40k AMG!

Rear and boot space is a lot smaller than the 1 series.


OVERALL

So the A45 is a good car, and perhaps if I didn't have an M135i already it would have impressed me. But I walked away totally convinced my M135i, with its (imminent) M Performance exhaust is the better car for me.

I think the C63 is a better option from the Merc range, as that has the drama you do expect from AMG. Then there is the price, no current discount the A45 in the dealer finance pack, yet the line below it has the C63 with a high discount resulting in at only 100 more a month on PCP.

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      07-03-2013, 12:50 PM   #2
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Interesting review. I'm booking a test drive next week, as I've been swamped at work this week. I think the Merc felt quicker when I was shotgun to the salesman, but tbh he always seemed close to the redline throughout. Where as when I tested the M135i it seemed to just go from the off, any gear, any RPM and I never really needed the higher revs on the 30 minutes I spent in it. In a real world situation when your dealing with slugs in small engined cars the BMW will certainly do the job of getting you clear of the pack. But I think in a similar situation to the AutoCar review on the back roads, that 4 wheel drive the AMG has up its sleeve, will help it distance its self from the BMW. I gave it 2 all in my 4 review categories. BMW came out top on Engine and performance and Usability and practicality. Whilse the AMG came out top on looks and handling.
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      07-03-2013, 02:45 PM   #3
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More rear legroom and wider rear accessibility in most 5 door superminis.
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      07-03-2013, 03:50 PM   #4
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The back of this A Class is so weird, it's hard to say it looks better than an M Sport 1er
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      07-03-2013, 06:19 PM   #5
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Very nice review! I guess that you highlight an important aspect that's less stressed, or even neglected, in some car magazines: cars are driven by real people on real roads.

The fact the M135i drips torque as from idle rpm is extremely dominant in the real live comparo versus the Merc which doesn't build comparable massive torque low down! The sweet six in line still has the edge to season the sporty drive into a premium lustfull endulging leasure.

On the other hand, when you push the shove on a closed circuit, the dominion of the Merc seems obvious. But what do you really want: the fastest around the ring or the one who delivers most pleasure in real life. I know what I want...
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      07-04-2013, 10:04 AM   #6
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Can I ask how is the ride in the A45? Does it crash through rough roads? I don't mind stiff suspension as long as it doesn't crash through pot holes and rougher roads (like in S-line Audis!). Porsche for example has given the Cayman stiff suspension, but it is so compliant that it is nice to drive even in b-roads.
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      07-04-2013, 04:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Buck View Post
Interesting review. I'm booking a test drive next week, as I've been swamped at work this week. I think the Merc felt quicker when I was shotgun to the salesman, but tbh he always seemed close to the redline throughout. Where as when I tested the M135i it seemed to just go from the off, any gear, any RPM and I never really needed the higher revs on the 30 minutes I spent in it. In a real world situation when your dealing with slugs in small engined cars the BMW will certainly do the job of getting you clear of the pack. But I think in a similar situation to the AutoCar review on the back roads, that 4 wheel drive the AMG has up its sleeve, will help it distance its self from the BMW. I gave it 2 all in my 4 review categories. BMW came out top on Engine and performance and Usability and practicality. Whilse the AMG came out top on looks and handling.
Yeah, very different power delivery. But, i still expected it to feel faster...maybe i was expecting too much

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoenG View Post
Very nice review! I guess that you highlight an important aspect that's less stressed, or even neglected, in some car magazines: cars are driven by real people on real roads.

The fact the M135i drips torque as from idle rpm is extremely dominant in the real live comparo versus the Merc which doesn't build comparable massive torque low down! The sweet six in line still has the edge to season the sporty drive into a premium lustfull endulging leasure.

On the other hand, when you push the shove on a closed circuit, the dominion of the Merc seems obvious. But what do you really want: the fastest around the ring or the one who delivers most pleasure in real life. I know what I want...
Totally agree, road driving is very different to full on track! and which do we do more off

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Originally Posted by WAY View Post
Can I ask how is the ride in the A45? Does it crash through rough roads? I don't mind stiff suspension as long as it doesn't crash through pot holes and rougher roads (like in S-line Audis!). Porsche for example has given the Cayman stiff suspension, but it is so compliant that it is nice to drive even in b-roads.
It felt nothing like as bad as the Audi S-lines but i dont actually think it hit any bug pot holes. It did feel more unsettled and jittery and the M135i. I know you can option a firmer suspension, i really cannot see the point in that!
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      07-04-2013, 04:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMP View Post
I actually cringed (with windows down) when holding onto revs at 4.5k in 2nd gear around a series of tight corners ...
Its a good 4 cylinder engine, but just doesn't have the character of the banshee 6 cylinder M135i unit.
And that's enough for me.

Thanks for posting.
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      07-04-2013, 05:13 PM   #9
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A bit off topic but Isn't the uk getting the xdrive version of the m135i? Also I can't seem to find a review comparing the xdrive to the a45 or to the sdrive, anyone?
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      07-05-2013, 12:51 AM   #10
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No, the m135i xdrive is not available in UK, and I don't think there has been made any reviews with that car against the A45 yet.
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      07-08-2013, 04:52 AM   #11
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very good review, again u have to know downshifting in AMGs is interfered by its stupid computer. very unpleasing. did u notice? and the GPS system in Merc is one of the worst I experience so far
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      07-08-2013, 05:16 AM   #12
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It will be great to see a comparison test between the A45 AMG and M135xDrive as they have pretty much identical performance numbers.
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      07-08-2013, 05:24 AM   #13
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I drove a 335i once and it felt like it had no torque and was all revs and noise. I might test drive a 135i see if its any better but i fear that i am spoilt because of the 330d torque.
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      07-08-2013, 05:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daydaychu View Post
It will be great to see a comparison test between the A45 AMG and M135xDrive as they have pretty much identical performance numbers.
Irrelevant to many as they don't exist in many markets.

Still, the F20 is ugly, and for me that's not acceptable, no matter how good it might be.
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      07-08-2013, 05:51 AM   #15
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Thanks for sharing your "real world" review, Merc looks fantastic (aside from the dash and nasty nav unit, and perhaps the back would look a little bit better); but I still prefer the looks of the BMW overall myself. The power they are getting out of that 4cyl is amazing, but I agree, 4cyl's just do not sound very well.
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      07-08-2013, 05:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpine*
Quote:
Originally Posted by daydaychu View Post
It will be great to see a comparison test between the A45 AMG and M135xDrive as they have pretty much identical performance numbers.
Irrelevant to many as they don't exist in many markets.

Still, the F20 is ugly, and for me that's not acceptable, no matter how good it might be.
Well what would you go for: nice exterior/bad interior (a45) or ugly exterior/nice interior (m135i)???? Really a lot of people say it's ugly, and i respect that opinion (I disagree off course lol), but what really matters is where you spend most of the time which is inside a car not outside.
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      07-08-2013, 06:06 AM   #17
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I had Bmw all my life ...just sold my e92 m3 brilliant car that was...was going for the f10 33od until the new m3 gets launched ... but I considered change is good I went for the merc A45 ... delivery in October ...disappointing reading all the negatively about the car considering it was built to trashed the M135i and Rs 3...
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      07-08-2013, 06:46 AM   #18
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Well what would you go for: nice exterior/bad interior (a45) or ugly exterior/nice interior (m135i)???? Really a lot of people say it's ugly, and i respect that opinion (I disagree off course lol), but what really matters is where you spend most of the time which is inside a car not outside.
Constructive response, appreciated.

I'm a BMW fanboi, 2 x E46 coupes, an E92 M3 and 2 x 1Ms but I'm leaning toward the AMG over the M Sport 135i. In reality I won't buy either cause I'm a coupe person hahaha

Soooo the AMG interior, VERY today and up to date IMO, it's a huge gulf to the conservative vanill BMW interior and can be and is challenging to most of us. The fact that they (in Austalia at least) come loaded aside from the wings and winglets for little more than the M lite it's priced very very well locally. Things like red seatbetls, contrasting stitching and awesome (looking at least) seats that can't be had on almost all BMW's and are a nice touch.

Just my 25c, in the end they are both worthy little cars.

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      07-08-2013, 06:53 AM   #19
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thanks for the review. not surprising right - a smooth inline 6 versus a stressed 4banger?

What are the details on the a45 AWD system? why does everybody attribute great handling to it?
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      07-08-2013, 07:29 AM   #20
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that interior was designed for a younger crowd, so if your a fully grown man then it might not appeal to you.
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      07-08-2013, 07:38 AM   #21
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I would like to know details about the drivetrains as well. I have been doing some Google research on the M135i x-drive, and this is what I found:
Open front differential. Open rear differential. Active center differential with 40:60 torque split, but adjustable from 0:100 to 100:0 in approximately 1/10 second.

Anybody know how the Mercedes is set up?
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      07-08-2013, 09:34 AM   #22
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The A45 definitely looks better.
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