The beefier wheel arches are signs of a more powerful version likely to serve as the current gen's last hurrah.
There were some reports last year before the 381-hp A45’s facelift concerning a new range-topping “S” model with as much as 400 horsepower (298 kilowatts) on tap. However, those rumors failed to materialize and Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers announced such an upgrade for the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is out of reach for the current-gen A-Class. A similar statement was made by AMG Compact Cars Product Manager, Mattias Schmidt, in an interview with Motoring back in September 2015 when he revealed there aren’t plans for an A45 S this generation.
So if an A45 S is not on the agenda, then what do we have here? It appears to be a regular prototype, but look closer and you’ll notice it has wider wheel arches and it seems to be sitting lower than the regular production car. In addition, there are some wires sticking out of the hood and going inside the cabin. These are all signs that a stronger version is currently in the works, but will it be based on the existing A45 or we’re actually looking at an early test mule of the next generation?
Since Mercedes-Benz is already out and about testing prototypes of the next-gen A-Class with the new body, we are inclined to believe these spy shots are showing the current A45 will go out with a bang. Since we know for sure it won’t get the “S” suffix, Mercedes-AMG will call it something else, and we highly doubt the folks from Affalterbach will resurrect the “Black Series” designation since it would make more sense to bring it back for a supercar. Plus, it doesn't look hardcore enough to be worthy of the Black Series status.
Regardless of name, the new version will certainly prove to be quicker than the regular A45 AMG 4Matic, which needs 4.2 seconds until 62 mph (100 kph) before maxing out at an electronically-capped 155 mph (250 kph). It’s a tenth of a second slower in the sprint compared to the Audi RS3 Sedan (and the soon-to-be-updated RS3 Sportback), so Mercedes-AMG is probably targeting a 4.1-second time or even lower.
Taking into account the regular A-Class W177 is expected to take a bow at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017, it likely means the last hurrah for the W176 will arrive early next year and we might see it in Geneva in March.