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Car of the Year Awards 2022: Hot Hatch of the Year

Hot hatches should make even the most mundane of drives feel magical. However, this ability to entertain shouldn't come at the expense of everyday usability...

WINNER: Hot hatch

Mercedes-AMG A45 S Plus

Car of the Year 2022 - MotorEasy

Is there a bigger compliment for a hot hatch than setting an early morning alarm just to go for a drive? How about finding absolutely any excuse at all to take it out? Well, that’s what the highly addictive Mercedes-AMG A45 S does to you from the very first time you sit behind the wheel.

For one thing, there’s the headline figure that’ll wake you up with more vigour than a cup of coffee ever could: 0-62mph in 3.9sec. That’s ridiculously quick. So quick that it’ll worry a Porsche 911 Carrera S and leave rivals such as the BMW M135i for dust. It’s all thanks to a motorsport-derived 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that rewards your right foot inputs with 415bhp – another figure that was reserved for sports and performance cars not too long ago.

Mercedes-AMG A45 front

Surprisingly, despite the fact that the A45 is heavily turbocharged, its response to your inputs is almost instantaneous, and power increases in a linear fashion all the way up to the red line. When you reach it, you get to experience the delightful dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It fires through the gears more ferociously than even the Audi RS3’s, regardless of whether you’re using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel or leaving it to its own devices. The fun doesn’t stop when you find yourself approaching a corner, either. In fact, it’s only just beginning.

The A45’s firm suspension set-up means that even in Comfort mode it has better body control than the Volkswagen Golf R and other rivals, with almost zero body lean and plenty of grip to play with. Switching to Sport mode lets you maximise those characteristics on public roads, while Sport+ and Race modes take care of things when you spend a day at your local circuit. There are even lap-timing screens for specific race tracks built into the infotainment system.

Mercedes-AMG A45 interior

For added confidence through the corners, the A45 has a sophisticated four-wheel drive system that can vary the power to each wheel for maximum traction and pace out of corners. It’s also more than happy to send a greater proportion of drive to the rear wheels only when you select one of the more aggressive driving modes, to aid adjustability in corners. For track days, there’s also a Drift mode, which will enthusiastically help you to go sideways.

When you’re done playing, you can simply relax into the hugely supportive bucket seats and flick the A45 back into Comfort mode. Incredibly, in that configuration the A45 is transformed into a comfortable hatchback that is no more unruly than the regular A-Class.

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