MERCEDES-Benz is about to deliver the best value performance package on the market with its A45 AMG.
The luxury carmaker will unleash the performance hatchback on September 1, and nothing gets close in terms of looks, performance and value.
For $74,900 for not only get back for your buck, you get some wonderful crackle via a brilliant sporting note from the exhaust.
This thing will sprint from 0-100kmh in 4.6 seconds. That's brilliantly quick.
We've just driven the pocket-rocket around Phillip Island race track, and found it's not only quick in a straight line, but equally adept in the bends.
That comes courtesy of all-wheel drive grip (which can send up to 50% of torque to the back wheels), with impressively direct steering.
This level of performance is something that those familiar with the AMG range can understand.
The engineers at the noisy end of the Benz research and development department have a habit of shoehorning large V8 engines into sedans that really don't need them. But this is the first time that it has tackled a small four-cylinder engine, and it has excelled itself - managing to crank a mind-boggling 265kW and 450Nm from a two-litre turbo engine.
It wasn't that long ago that you'd be bolting blowers onto sixes and eights to see numbers like that. Even the new A-Class that launched earlier this year is a hugely capable hatch, especially its A 250 Sport derivative with its 155kW 2.0-litre. One can only assume that there's been some sort of black magic going on at AMG.
Putting this level of power down on the ground is also something that shouldn't have been possible in a hatchback - even with the 4MATIC drive system, which drives the front wheels all of the time, and only adds the rear drive when traction needs demand it.
This is obviously a fairly regular requirement, because keeping such a short wheelbase vehicle on the straight and narrow with almost any level of enthusiasm means it needs all the help it can get.
We were really looking forward to driving the A 45 - and its upcoming CLA 45 brethren - mainly to see if it could actually work as an effective hot hatch or would be borderline undriveable.
It not only works, it excels.
Grip to the 19-inch wheels is massive, even on wet roads, and give a good surface and a dry track there's not much that'll be able to touch it point to point. In fact, with a 270kmh top speed, there's not much that'll be able to touch it, unless you're spending huge money. If a little sleeper hatchback is what turns your wheels, even BMW's M135i will be picking bits of bitumen out of its teeth.
The biggest problem Mercedes-Benz has is filling orders. The line-up for the A45 is out to March.
Model: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.
Details: Five-door all-wheel drive performance hatch.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generating maximum power of 265kW @ 6000rm and peak torque of 450Nm @ 2250-5000rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 6.9 - 7.1 litres/100km.
CO2: 161-165 g/km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 4.6 seconds, top speed 270kmh (electronically limited).
Bottom line: $74,900
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