2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 revealed: price, specs and release date

In what looks like the understatement of the year, the new 415bhp Mercedes-AMG A45 hot hatch is described by its maker as having "ample power"...

2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S front

On sale Late 2019 Price from £45,000 (est)

Whenever there’s tension in the world, you hear reporters talk about the danger of escalation. But in the world of hot hatches, these sort of tit for tat exchanges tend to be good news for consumers, resulting in ever more performance.

Back in 2013, for example, when the original Mercedes-AMG A45 went on sale, its 355bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine represented a whole new level of mad. However, fast forward to today and it’s Audi that has bragging rights, thanks to its 394bhp RS3.

This all-new A45 is Mercedes’ response, with the range-topping A45 S version producing a whopping 415bhp – enough to make it the most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder car in series production.

2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S rear

Even a bespoke sports coupé like the Porsche 718 Cayman S doesn’t get close. And the A45 S also accelerates faster than both that and the RS3, hitting 62mph from rest in just 3.9sec.

Interestingly, though, Mercedes claims to have tuned the engine to have a power delivery reminiscent of a naturally aspirated engine, with its maximum 369lb ft of torque not arriving until 5000rpm so that you’re rewarded for revving the car out.

In addition to the A45 S, there’s a ‘regular’ A45 model that produces 382bhp and still needs only 4.0sec to get to 62mph. Plus, Mercedes is simultaneously introducing 45 and 45 S versions of its A-Class-based four-door coupé, the CLA.

2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S dashboard

Whichever car you go for, you get an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a four-wheel drive system that can not only juggle power between the front and rear axles but also between the rear wheels to improve agility. Meanwhile, a reinforced body structure should contribute to more precise steering than you get in lesser A-Class and CLA variants.

There’s no chance of anyone mistaking the A45 for a regular A-Class, due to its wide stance, big rear wing, twin exhausts and muscular bodykit. However, picking out the A45 S is harder, requiring you to spot the 19in rather than 18in wheels and red rather than grey brake callipers.

Prices are still to be confirmed, but we expect the two A45 variants to sandwich the RS3, which costs £49,290.

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Read our full Mercedes-AMG A35 review >

The best and worst hot hatches on sale today

While the new A45 sits at the top of its class in terms of performance and cost, their are hot hatches to suit almost every budget. Here we count down our current top 10 – and reveal the models to avoid.

10. Suzuki Swift Sport

New Suzuki Swift Sport vs Volkswagen Up GTI

The latest version of the Swift Sport isn't the steal that its predecessors were, but it's well equipped, cheap to run and fun to drive at sensible speeds. If you're looking for an entry-level hot hatch, it deserves a place on your shortlist.

Peugeot 208 GTi

Few manufacturers have as much hot hatch pedigree as Peugeot, but unlike the iconic 205 GTi whose styling it apes, the 208 GTi relies on straight-line performance for its thrills rather than having particularly agile handling. You also get a high quality interior, but have to put up with a lot of wind and road noise.

Read our full Peugeot 208 GTi review or see how much we could save you on a 208 GTi

8. Volkswagen Golf R

Used Volkswagen Golf R 2016-present

The potent Volkswagen Golf GTI features further up this list, but if you want even more performance, then it's worth considering the Golf R. True, it's not as much fun as the very best rivals, but standard four-wheel drive gives it all-weather ability and few hot hatches are as easy to live with.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf R review or see how much we could save you on a Golf R

Next: more of our favourite hot hatchbacks >

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