Lewis Hamilton is testing the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG at high speed.

A nice chat in the fast lane.

Guest feature by Mercedes-Benz magazine: World champion Lewis Hamilton takes AMG’s new compact super sports car for a test drive. We volunteered to ride shotgun – and learned a few things along the way.
  • A nice chat in the fast lane.

  • Overtures.

    It’s spring. Just a few weeks to go before the start of the new Formula 1 season, and Lewis Hamilton has been out practicing pit stops with his crew at Silverstone. We catch him at a calmer moment, gazing over a metallic gray automobile with the look of a man struck by “car love” at first sight. He circles the metallic sculpture in deliberate paces, runs a finger over its razor-sharp lines, opens a door and lets it fall back into its lock, checks the size of the trunk, takes a few photos on his BlackBerry and posts them on Twitter for the wider world to admire: “It’s a seriously cool car. Really young and fresh,” says Hamilton.

    Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG.

    Indeed, when Lewis Hamilton claps eyes on the new Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG for the first time, his eyes instantly light up. This year sees the 2008 Formula 1 world champion marking his first season with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team. The Briton is charged with powering the Silver Arrows into a new era of victory and success.

    Lewis Hamilton testet den neuen Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG.

    „Genug geredet, let’s drive“.

    Trotzdem lässt Hamilton sich nicht die Chance nehmen, den Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG ein paar Runden über den legendären Asphalt von Silverstone zu jagen. Schließlich hat man es hier ebenfalls mit dem Beginn einer neuen Ära zu tun: Der A 45 AMG ist ein Kompaktwagen, den Mercedes-AMG für das High-Performance-Segment entwickelt hat. Ein Blick auf die Leistungsdaten zeigt, dass der Balanceakt gelungen ist. Hamilton hört sich die Power-Parameter gerne an, sagt dann aber: „Genug geredet, let’s drive.“ Er gleitet auf den Fahrersitz, drückt den Startknopf, legt den Kopf zur Seite und lauscht dem kräftigen Wummern des AMG-2,0-Liter-Turbomotors. Dann geht es los, und man muss vermutlich Astronaut oder Achterbahntester sein, um von der ersten Runde, die wenig länger als 60 Sekunden dauert, mehr mitzubekommen als Rasen und Rauschen.

    The smile of a champion: Hamilton in the A 45 AMG.

    No time to waste.

    The scenery streaks past in a blur of green. It takes a few corners to get used to the speed, the immense centrifugal forces – and the wild grin painted across the face of the driver. So another lap would be nice, Mr. Hamilton. And what was that you were saying when the noise drowned you out? “It’s a lot of fun,” he sniggers.

    Hamilton goes on to explain what he looks for most during a first drive with a new car. “I pay less attention to figures and technical data,” he says. I want to feel if a car possesses that inherent balance. A machine is never more impressive than when it makes difficult tasks look like a walk in the park.”

    Professionals unite: the sports machine hits the pit lane.

    At home in the pit lane.

    Hamilton’s initial verdict is in: “It’s not a Formula 1 car, of course,” he concedes, “but it seems to be very much at ease at Silverstone.” And that’s not altogether surprising, the AMG brand having been born into the racing circus. It is a tradition that lives on in 2013 – and may be one reason why, posing in the F1 pit lane, the A 45 AMG does not look like

    its driver has taken a wrong turn on his way to the parking lot. “The A 45 AMG is a full-blooded AMG and has the technology to prove it,” emphasizes AMG’s Head of Branding and Marketing, Mario Spitzner. For example, the car contains components originally developed for the SLS.

    Steady on the tinsel.

    Lewis Hamilton, who has various AMG cars in his garage at home, sums up the AMG brand values neatly and succinctly: “Elegance, aggression, dynamism, sportiness. And, most importantly, a nice sound.” The Formula 1 star could almost be a company spokesman – but really, he’s just a fan. It is not only his driving skill that makes the choice of Lewis Hamilton for the A 45 AMG test driving gig a no-brainer; he takes a hands-on approach to the interior design of all the cars in his personal collection. “If there’s something I can’t stand it’s tinselly effects and design overkill.” The A 45 AMG, it is safe to assume, suits his tastes. The instrument panel catches the eye with its carbon fiber look, while the red trim suggests a fire smoldering beneath the dark surface.

    Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, Interior.

    Hamilton is particularly impressed by the plate on every AMG engine block bearing the name of the technician who assembled it. “One man, one engine” sums up this company philosophy, the fusion of high technology and handcraftsmanship.

    Hamilton wants to create his Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG.
    During a visit to AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, Hamilton expressed a desire to put together an engine himself and inscribe his name on the finished product – if possible before the year is out. First, though, he is insisting on one last lap to set the seal on this hour-long test.

    Something of a chameleon.

    “This time,” he announces with a faintly sinister air, “let’s do it with a little more speed.” Mario Spitzner explains how to engage the Race Start function; press two buttons, pull the selector lever of the AMG Speedshift seven-speed sports transmission, and enjoy the sound of screeching tires as you slingshot away. Hamilton blasts out of the pit lane and is through the first combination of turns before he lifts his foot from the gas. The A 45 AMG is something of a chameleon. Press a few buttons, adjust the brakes and transmission responses to your vigorous intentions and the car switches from cruise mode to a Silverstone state of mind. Not surprisingly, that’s just how Hamilton likes it.

    Something of a chameleon.

    “This time,” he announces with a faintly sinister air, “let’s do it with a little more speed.” Mario Spitzner explains how to engage the Race Start function; press two buttons, pull the selector lever of the AMG Speedshift seven-speed sports transmission, and enjoy the sound of screeching tires as you slingshot away. Hamilton blasts out of the pit lane and is through the first combination of turns before he lifts his foot from the gas. The A 45 AMG is something of a chameleon. Press a few buttons, adjust the brakes and transmission responses to your vigorous intentions and the car switches from cruise mode to a Silverstone state of mind. Not surprisingly, that’s just how Hamilton likes it.

    Hamilton wants to create his Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG.

    During a visit to AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, Hamilton expressed a desire to put together an engine himself and inscribe his name on the finished product – if possible before the year is out. First, though, he is insisting on one last lap to set the seal on this hour-long test.

    Highly coveted.

    “Hold on tight, we’re going to have some fun,” he says, switching off the ESP as another corner disappears beneath us. The centrifugal forces are immense, but the car holds its line. “I really wanted to slide through the corner,” he admits, but the huge grip generated by the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system nipped that in the bud. For a moment Hamilton appears not to know whether he’s pleased, impressed or just a bit disappointed. An hour has passed, but it is with some reluctance that Hamilton climbs out of the car; another pit stop practice session is planned for the afternoon. He has one last question: “Can I buy it right now? It’s my brother’s birthday next week and it would make a great present.” The AMG crew break the unhappy news: the car still has a busy appointments book to honor, so won’t be available for some time. And that’s somehow reassuring. Even a world champion can’t get his hands on every car he wants.

    The Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG.

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