An AMG With The JDM Touch
The German Answer To The Evo X

Is it just me, or are Mercedes-Benz doing all sorts of great things these days? Take a look at their line up and you’ll quickly see that they cater to every single type of car out there – from grandpa-spec sedans to ultra high-performance machines that make us froth at the mouth. While many of the high-end models remain prohibitively expensive, these days you can pick up an entry-level AMG for a palatable amount of money.


I am, of course, talking about the A 45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG models – the hot hatch and saloon combo that in the short time since their introduction have brought a lot more people into AMG ownership. From a sales perspective the two models have done very well in Japan, so it’s no surprise that local tuning companies have taken an interest. It may seem wrong, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that there’s something so right about a European car modified the JDM way. Which brings me to this: an A 45 AMG by Varis.


After my behind-the-scenes tour of the Japanese aero maker’s workshop, I just had to find out what the angry-looking AMG parked out front was all about. And what better way than to take it for a strop through some local mountain roads – which is precisely what Yahagi-san and I did.


This particular car – like the many BMWs that Varis have designed kits for in the past – is dressed up with a variety of parts from the ‘VRS’ line. This is the brand name Varis uses for aero parts it makes for any vehicle that’s not of Japanese origin.


And like all of Varis’s goodies, there’s the choice of having the parts produced from FRP or carbon fiber – or a variety of both materials depending on the piece. Seeing that this A 45 AMG is one of the company’s demo cars, it’s no surprise that every addition here has been sculpted out of carbon. Up front there’s a new lip spoiler designed with an integrated square central section, and beneath it an extended lower lip that follows the same contours to really set off the front end. The factory AMG canards are retained, but Varis have added carbon trim panels for the two side intakes.


Right from the start the idea was to match black wheels with the black exterior, and in partnering with RAYS, Varis found exactly what they were looking for in a set of 19-inch Volk Racing G25s. Totally by chance, the RAYS logo on the center caps matches the big red AMG calipers, which is a nice little detail.


While AMG cars come with sports-tuned suspension from the factory, Varis really wanted to step things up in this department. And by fitting adjustable Spirit coilovers they killed two birds with one stone – first by equipping the car with the on-the-rails handling it deserved, and secondly by dropping it closer to the ground and allowing the fenders to really hug the 235/35R19 Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres that feature front and rear.

The VRS Carbon Touches

The glossy carbon additions continue along the skirts; VRS side diffusers making the whole car seem like it’s sitting lower than it actually is.


The factory red highlights along the grille and side mirrors of this Edition 1 car add more visual drama and bring continuity to the exterior. But it isn’t until you take a few steps back that you realise just how menacing this car actually looks. That twin front splitter really works wonders up front.


Seeing and hearing it in action really makes you appreciate what AMG have achieved with smallest car in the Mercedes line up. This is a genuine hot hatch.


Lifting the lightweight VRS aero bonnet reveals why this car is just so damn fun to drive on touge roads.


It may sport half the numbers cylinders of what we’re used to seeing from AMG, but with 360hp on tap the 2.0-liter four-pot punches well above its weight class when you look at the numbers. I’m not mistaken, the soon-to-be-released C 63 AMG has eight cylinders and twice the capacity, but only makes 503hp in comparison. Throw in a seven-speed AMG Speedshift twin-clutch transmission and an AMG 4MATIC AWD drivetrain, and you could look at the A 45 AMG as Germany’s answer to the Lancer Evolution X. Seven years late I know, but I’m sure you get where I’m coming from.


Seeing the engine has its turbocharger mounted at the front – much like the way older 4G63-powered Evos did – Varis thought that cooling was definitely needed. That’s why the bonnet features these generous louvered openings, which are fitted with drains to collect rain and direct it right into the factory water channels.


More venting on the sides of the bonnet helps rid the engine bay of more hot air, and on top of being functional looks rather good.


To further boost the Edition 1 touches that the car came with, the rear gets a comprehensive list of VRS goodies too.


Take the roof spoiler for example. The VRS version builds on the stock item with an accentuated contour and also adds carbon fiber wing stays into the mix.


The biggest visual touch however is the lower section, which fits into the stock rear bumper like a glove. The general contours are much the same as the original AMG item, but the VRS piece adds a center diffuser section with three integrated fins. It’s also designed to fit the two AMG exhaust trims for a perfectly integrated upgrade.


It may be the company demo car but Yahagi-san really enjoys taking the A 45 AMG out on proper driving roads – which means pretty much any road close to the Varis factory. Talk about lucky!

Comfort & Aggression

In the last chapter I made a comparison between this car and the Evolution X, but while the two cars are mechanically similar the A 45 AMG takes the win when it comes to the interior. That said, in Japan it does cost $10,000 more than the range-topping Evolution X GSR Premium, so it should come with nicer materials and a better fit and finish. (In fairness though, the Evo X RS sells for the equivalent of US$29,770 in Japan making it a true performance bargain)


One would expect nothing less from an AMG-spec Mercedes, and in factory form the cabin is a very nice place to park yourself.


The little touches always make the difference.


The seats are nice and supportive with plenty of adjustability built in. Sure, they probably weigh a lot, but they totally fit the whole ‘luxury sport’ bill that AMG cars are renowned for.


Cruising the long way back to the Varis workshop was like going for another complimentary slice of dessert after a satisfying meal. After giving the little A 45 AMG a proper workout on some perfect mountain roads it gave me more time to admire and appreciate why the JDM touch – when applied to European cars – just works so well. Am I right?

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino

Varis’s Mercedes-AMG A 45 AMG

AMG 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged

AMG Speedshift DCT 7-speed transmission, AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive

Spirit coilovers

RAYS Volk Racing G25 19×8.5-inch +38 front/rear, Bridgestone Potenza S001 235/35R19 front/rear

Varis VRS full aero kit comprising of: front spoiler + extension lip set, front duct trim, vented bonnet, side skirts, rear side skirts, rear diffuser section, rear wing



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Looks great, shame its $85,000 AUD without the Aero Kit and Rays :(


Why oh why can't Mercedes sell this in America? The CLA 45 is great but I'd rather have the hatch. Definitely like the Varis parts on this one.


The hatch is so beautiful. Damnit MBUSA why did you have to cut us short.


Really nice, that this Varis A45 AMG has the performance seats! :) Love
the car and the pics, Thanks for sharing, Dino. I´m totally with you
when it comes to JDM touches on European cars. This always looks so
right! :)


A 45 AMG changing the hatch back revolution, rock on all eyes focused on Benz.


A 45 AMG changing the hatch back revolution, rock on all eyes focused on Benz.


That's is a badass car.


That's is a badass car.


Still just a soulless econobox!


Lets put it up against the upcoming Civic Type R :)  You could almost make a new BMI out of the new cars! Too bad the ToyoBaru can't come close to some of these hatches.


"VRS" is what Skoda calls its sporty models ;)


Can we please please get one of these in NA... When I first saw their release I was all excited and started saving...all we got was the CLA


Wow I like that !! that interior !!


This thing will get from 0-100kph in under 4 seconds with launch control. And the fuel economy is pretty hopeless as well, autocar in in the uk got an average of 23 mpg in one week of driving.


Remove the wing and I'm sold. I don't like the look of wings like that on hatches, looks tacked on and crappy.


I'm feeling it. The wheels, body kit, color...
Lose the decals though...and the wing...that wing...nope, either lose it or make it looks more part of the car and we can talk. Overall, I'm diggin it.

Gianluca FairladyZ

I can say that i am lucky to have driven one A45 AMG with the performance exhaust system.. I just say: Let's go full throttle, shift, and then "BaNg, bAnG, BAng, BaAaNg...!!!!" That car is so fun! I feel that when you sit in a sporty JDM car you feel their philosophy, that the car is made for sports, made for the track.. But when you sit in the A45 AMG, it feels like you can do everything with this car!

Gianluca FairladyZ

D1RGE EXE  All the ToyoBaru needs is more power at it's basic form! You can't win wars with 190-200 bhp in this world...... ( because we live in a world where golf's are makin' 300 horses bra.......)


MB A45 rally car, anyone?




I love my A45 ... great car ... really fun to drive


Hoonigan_RB The problem is that it doesn't flow with the design. It's a beautifully sculpted car and Varis does an amazing job with the aero kit but the wing looks like it was pulled from a different kit or older model. It just doesn't follow the lines of the car.


Palatable amount of money.... It's £45k starting in the UK... Could pick up Golf R or M135i and have 10-12k to spend on it...


Palatable amount of money.... It's £45k starting in the UK... Could pick up Golf R or M135i and have 10-12k to spend on it...


ANKRacing I'd say the market is too small to bother. MB isn't huge, and then inside that, 20-40 somethings MB buyers that would rather have a sporty, probably over priced hatch-back... not a huge market compared to Europe or Asia. Unfortunately it usually all comes down to the bean counters.


@zz I'd say the market is too small to bother. MB market isn't huge in NA, and then inside that, 20-40 somethings MB buyers that would rather have a sporty, probably over priced hatch-back... not a huge market compared to Europe or Asia. Unfortunately it usually all comes down to the bean counters.


I'm really digging the look of the VRS A45. I love the subtle red throughout the black. and I absolutely agree that European cars with the JDM touch is just beautiful and works so well.


look like a wagon, btw


Gianluca FairladyZ Except tune it too much. I hear the engine goes bang fairly early on


ScottBaker1 Not sure about MB's move there... Makes no sense




ANKRacing Thanks!


The One Otaku Marketing department at work right there


nzh0920 RoughIdea WOW you guys get a raw deal!


speedhunters_dino nzh0920 RoughIdea You don't want to know what it costs in Singapore...


RoughIdea Pricey little car here in Aust. And a few reliability issues with turbos letting go.

Gianluca FairladyZ

speedhunters_dino Gianluca FairladyZ  I agree with you and we heard of this in europe too. But i say, let's keep in mind that this is a new developed engine, the most powerful stock 2.0l turbocharged 4 banger in the world. New things often come with some children's disease. I think we should give MB some credit to sort it out, and well.. As long as it happens within the warranty time, who cares.

Gianluca FairladyZ

joellisibach  Achtung en Solothurner... :D Ich bi au vom Solothurn! Vill Spass metem A45! Hammer Auto..


Gianluca FairladyZ Haha so chli cha d Welt si :D  Danke ;)


I love the new A-class as the old one was a top heavy ugly little thing where as this looks like it can compete with the A3 and 1series, the kit looks amazing but the spoiler would look better if it all swooped from the roof and not on legs/arms. Otherwise the kit looks awesome and I hope a Japanese aero company gets it's hands on the BMW i8 in the future.


joellisibach Gianluca FairladyZ Should have pushed that Prius into the water and then taken the picture.


Do anyone know what is the name of the road/pass location the pictures was taken? (Specifically the first picture with the tunnel in the background) It's looks so amazing.


speedhunters_dino Gianluca FairladyZ 


Thats not true. The A45 Engine is absolutely reliable. It is so reliable that you can tune it up to about 430 HP and more, but the gearbox will come to it's limit. Rumours are that AMG is working on a Black Series version with about 430-440HP. 

So the engine is a masterpiece and still got more to come. 

There was an issue a few months ago with the turbo chargers, but this was a production failure by BorgWarner. There was one shippent which had Turbo chargers with failures. It was their fault. This was solved very fast. The MB engine itself doesen't have any single problem until today. A god friend of mine work for AMG and he told me, that there is maybe more to come. We'll see how the Car market will develop in the next time.


@Underworld_Shi its an japanese mountain circuit i cant remember the name


Please take that wing off!!




Doe anyone know where I can purchase the carbon fibre bonnet for the A45