Mercedes-Benz has confirmed limited details to its most affordable performance model to date – the Mercedes A45 AMG.
Set to go on sale in early 2013, the Audi RS3 and BMW M135i rivaling hatchback sits at the top of the new third-generation A-class line-up at an unconfirmed price that is expected to start at around £35,000 in the UK.
The first series production AMG model with a transversely mounted engine runs a heavily tuned version of Mercedes-Benz’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit, as used in the standard A250 Sport set for UK sale by the end of the year.
With a specially developed free flow cylinder head and unique induction system among a myriad of other power boosting modifications, the M270 Evo designated unit is claimed to deliver 330bhp and what AMG describes as "maximum torque significantly above 295lb ft".
Developed in partnership with the German car maker’s High Performance Engine offshoot based in Brixworth, England, the new engine is the most powerful four-cylinder ever placed in a Mercedes production model.
"Our goal right from the start was to match the output of the larger turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine used by the RS3," says Tobias Moers, head of development at AMG.
By way of comparison, the RS3’s EA255 engine delivers 335bhp and 332lb ft torque, while the M135i, which is powered by an uprated version of BMW’s N55 turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit, pushes out 316bhp and the same 332lb ft.
As first revealed by Autocar, the A45 AMG channels its drive through a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and, in a layout that mirrors that of the RS3, a specially tuned Haldex-style multi-plate clutch to all four wheels.