The newly-announced Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG may be calling dibs on all the headlines as of late, but its not the only five-door performance car from Germany to be revealed today.
In a bid to steal some of the limelight from the Benz, Audi has pulled the wraps off the S3 Sportback, based of course on the Audi A3 Sportback, which is set to like the Benz be shown off in public for the first time at next months Geneva Motor Show.
So, as the two seem to be so inseparable at the moment, its perhaps a good idea to see how the Audi fares against the Mercedes…
Given Mercedes-Benz has already informed us that the A45 AMG is the most powerful production hatch ever made 360hp, courtesy of a turbocharged 2.0 four-pot engine we dont think youll be surprised to hear its comfortably the faster of the two.
With claims of 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and a 155mph top speed, not only does it comfortably beat the Audi, but its enough to (theoretically, in the real world) comprehensively worry a 3.4 Porsche 911 Carrera!
Thats not to say the S3 is a slouch, mind. Whilst the engine (which is identical in size and cylinder count as the A45s) may pack the punch of only 296 Teutonic horses, its still enough to hustle the Audi to the same 155mph top speed, and hit the 60mph milestone just four-tenths behind the Benz.
As far as the two are concerned, this is where the Mercedes and Audi are nigh-on identical on paper, primarily because both come straight out of the factory with their brands respective all-wheel drive systems.
Both cars can also be fitted with automatics (seven gears for the Merc, six for the Audi) with manual override via the mandatory paddles behind the steering wheel. That said, for customers who prefer to operate the cars clutch with their left leg instead of allow the ECU to shuffle the cogs automatically, the S3 comes with a manual six-speeder as standard.
Which might be worth considering if youre enthusiastic enough about your driving to want three deals in the drivers footwell, but arent quite contempt with the potential rear-wheel drive hooliganism the BMW M135I brings to the table
Whilst both cars have seemingly mastered the art of blending blatant brand identity with remarkable subtlety, the A45 and the S3 have been adorned with appropriately sporting bodywork, and the necessary badging so you can differentiate them on the street from any A-Class A180 and A3 1.6 TDI that happen to be fitted with the AMG and S-Line trim packages respectively.
However, whilst well obviously let you make up your mind over which one you find to be the prettier of the two, we do reckon the S3 could look a tad more exciting. Then again, Audi could be saving a more visually arresting shape for when the next RS3 roars onto the scene in the near future
Despite their sporting credentials, though, both at least suggest an element of practicality, as both are available with five-door body shells. Though, again, if youre willing to sacrifice ease of access to the back bench for a more athletic profile, the S3 is also available as a three-door.
Mercedes is pretty satisfied that its made one of the most powerful performance four-pot engines in the world also one of the most efficient: according to the official stats, the A45 can return up to 40.9mpg on the combined cycle, whilst 161g/km CO2 emissions bring home a not-unreasonable 170 VED tax bill.
For the first time in this comparison piece, though, the Audi actually has the superior statistics. Not only can the S3 Sportback return 41mpg, but CO2 emissions are 2g/km lower (though the tax sum stays the same).
However, those figures only apply to S3s with the S-Tronic box: go for the manual, and youll have to make do with a mere 40.4mpg. At least the VED sum still doesnt change, eh?
Mercedes hasnt officially confirmed the pricing for the A45, though we do believe we can make an educated guess as to what the new baby in the AMG family will retail for.
According to the motoring press, alleged Mercedes insiders have stated that the most potent A-Class to date wont cost more than the car its most similar to on paper, the now-discontinued 39,000 RS3 Sportback.
With this claimed info, itd be perhaps not unreasonable to expect A45 buyers to hand over 35,000 or so for the privilege of owning an example of AMGs first ever hot hatchback.
And the S3? Well, Audi has confirmed that its on-the-road price wont differ from the car it replaces, so that means the new S3 Sportback range will kick off from 31,840.
With Audi having already hammered in its pricing milestone, it will be very interesting to see how the A45 AMGs eventual OTR figure compares
Given you could argue the S3 Sportback and the A45 AMG cover different areas of the hot hatch spectrum, contrasting the pair side-by-side does seem to be a bit irrelevant from that perspective.
But the German firms havent exactly done themselves many favours by revealing the two literally hours apart from each other, so an analysis of their similarities and differences was bound to happen at some point.
And, from our quick run-through, it seems the S3 doesnt fare too badly against the Mercedes. Sure, the Benz trumps it with its claimed power and performance stats, but, overall, the Audi Sportback isnt what youd call completely blown away.
So, whilst the eventual group tests will decide which car is the outright winner, the battle over the title of Germanys Ultimate Hot Hatch does look like a pretty close one indeed.
So, who do you think will win: the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, or the Audi S3 Sportback? Place your metaphorical bets and let us know in the comments box now!