Mercedes A45 AMG revealed
This range-topping version of Mercedes' A-Class hatchback comes with a 355bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which makes it more powerful than rivals such as the BMW M135i and the Audi RS3.
Performance figures are suitably impressive, with a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph.
The A45 AMG comes with a seven-speed, dual-clutch semi-auto gearbox as standard. It offers three driving modes, optimised for comfort or sporty driving, while a manual mode lets you change gears using steering-wheel-mounted paddles. It also comes with 'Race Start' launch control that's designed to give maximum acceleration from a standstill.
It also comes with an automatically controlled sports exhaust system as standard, while a sportier-sounding exhaust is an option.
During normal driving conditions the A45 is front-wheel drive for increased efficiency. However, under harder acceleration the power is split equally between the front and rear axles.
Sports suspension is fitted, while the standard alloys are 18-inchers and finished in titanium grey. High-performance brakes and an electromechanical, speed-sensitive steering system are also standard.
The A45 AMG comes with a titanium grey 'twin-blade' grille, large side air intakes, a rear apron and twin chrome exhaust tailpipes. The interior includes leather sports seats with red stitching and red seatbelts, a sports steering wheel, carbonfibre trim and AMG instrument panels. The options list allows you to add carbonfibre detailing on the door mirrors, front splitter and side sills.
Various AMG Performance upgrades are also offered, including suspension set-up, exhaust, seats and a steering wheel. The wheels can be upgraded to 19-inch alloys, and the brake calipers can be painted red.
Prices haven't been confirmed, although the A45 AMG is expected to cost more than £35,000. It will go on sale in the UK in July.
By Tom Webster