Four hundred and fifteen horsepower. That might seem like the power figure for a musclebound sports or performance car, but it’s actually how much grunt the Mercedes-AMG A45 S packs into its sensible hatchback skin.
But even more impressive than the headline power figure, or indeed its 3.9sec 0-62mph time, is how AMG achieves that level of firepower. You see, there’s not a big five or six-cylinder engine to be found under the bonnet, just a 2.0-litre four-cylinder – albeit with a turbocharger that’s bigger than your head. Probably. A less powerful non ‘S’ model is available in Europe, but apparently us Brits are too power-mad to even consider it.
Like the less powerful AMG A35, the A45 uses an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to feed its power to all four wheels. However, while you might assume the two cars share a system, the A45’s is far cleverer and can not only vary the power split front to rear, but also from side to side at the rear.
The aim? Well, depending on the drive mode you’ve selected, the system can either boost traction and therefore stability, or encourage the A45 to drift sideways around corners and various points in between. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s similar to the system found in the Ford Focus RS.
Of course, AMG has its sights set a little higher than a mere Ford. In fact, there’s really only one car that can even get close to the A45’s manic performance, the Audi RS3. Of course, you might also want to consider the less powerful BMW M135i or Volkswagen Golf R if a premium badge is a draw. If it isn’t, we’d certainly add a Honda Civic Type R to your list of hot hatches to try.
So, is the A45 any good, or is it just good for bragging rights down the pub? Keep with us over the next few pages to find out if it’s fun as well as fast and whether you could actually live with the thing day to day. And don’t forget to peruse our New Car Buying section for big savings on all manner of new cars.