Where does one draw the line between hot hatchbacks and out-and-out performance cars?
The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG has us wondering. It’s certainly a hatchback, and it’s undoubtedly hot, but with 360 horsepower and all-wheel drive it offers the sort of performance we’d have seen from the top echelon of sports cars just a decade ago.
Thankfully, buyers won’t have to wait a decade to get their hands on it, as the 37,845 A45 hits the UK in August.
That’s certainly more than most would pay for a regular hot hatchback too, though some might say the A45’s specification justifies it.
62 mph passes by just 4.6 seconds after planting your right foot. Standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive helps with traction (can you imagine this thing with front-wheel drive?) and an AMG Speedshift seven-speed dual-clutch transmission should make light work of ripping through the gears.
Combined economy of 40.9 mpg should be within reach with gentler driving too, though few will bother. Like the A200 CDI AMG Sport we drove recently, the A45 wears an aggressive bodykit and sports a squat, bulldog-like stance.
It’s a striking car alright, but the aforementioned diesel A-Class does raise an issue – is the A45 distinctive enough above run-of-the-mill A-Class models with AMG kits? It’s an issue BMW M customers have been faced with for years with so many M-Sport models on the road…
Amazingly, you even have to pay extra for a few of the A45’s most defining features, such as 1,530 for an ‘AMG Aerodynamics package’, and 510 for a quad-tailpipe AMG Performance Exhaust.
At least there are more goodies inside, including a set of stunning AMG Performance seats, a sports steering wheel and AMG badging. The AMG Drive Unit (a gear selector, in English) also separates the A45 from cooking models, which all feature a standard stalk selector instead.
Priced from: 37,845
Available from: Deliveries begin August
Will the A45 AMG be a riot to drive? Almost certainly. Is it worth the extra dosh over its close German rivals? Buyers will decide that one. We suspect plenty will be taken in by the headline performance figures and three-pointed star on the nose, and the 4MATIC system and 7-speed DCT will make that performance pretty accessible too.
But it’s still jolly expensive, and making it look in any way different from a diesel A-Class in AMG Sport or Engineered by AMG trim involves spending another few grand, which takes the Michael (Schumacher) somewhat.
Still, that’s the price you pay to get the hottest hatch on the road.
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Also check out our full buying guide to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class with reviews, user reviews, photos, videos and stats.