▶ Why is it here?

With the A45, AMG has taken an A-Class hatch and turned it into an object of cult worship by fitting it with the world’s most powerful production fourcylind­er turbocharg­ed engine (up 40bhp on the previous model) as part of a no-holdsbarre­d eort to make every rival look tepid. It’s the premium performanc­e hatch benchmark.

Any clever stu ?

The new rear axle dierential uses two multi-plate clutches, each connected to a drive shaft. This means that torque can be precision-metered to the rear wheels separately, as well as being variably distribute­d between front and rear, for better traction in both adverse conditions and during hard cornering. It also allows Drift mode to be included.

All the front-to-rear and sideto-side torque distributi­on is electo-mechanical rather than electro-hydraulic, which allows actuation of the clutches to be independen­t of engine speed and, Mercedes says, gives faster responses.

▶ Which version is this?

Only one A45 S is currently oered, the A45 S 4Matic★; we don’t get the 382bhp non-S in the UK. It’s priced from £57,885, and is equipped as a range-topper in terms of both performanc­e and infotainme­nt tech. There’s not much of substance left on the options list; a bit of Active Distance Assist leaves our test car just shy of £60k.

The CLA 45 is basically an A45 shooting brake, and is only slightly more expensive, although the dog/passengers/ shopping in your life may not thank you for getting this as a supposedly sensible choice, as it’s as fidgety and speedfocus­ed as the hatch. There are also less powerful 35 versions of both, which cost less and are more comfortabl­e all-rounders.

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