Design first and briefly, then: the Mercedes-AMG A 45 is a fairly subtle uplift to the regular A-Class Mercedes. It’s not that it lacks overt sporting cues; there are the big wheels and deep skirts and the like. It’s just that, even on its cooking models, Mercedes has given the A-Class a certain visual sportiness.

However, no other A-Class has the technological armoury that this one does. There’s a truly impressive 2.0-litre engine, which gains the signature of the technician who assembled it under AMG’s ‘one man, one engine’ mantra.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The Mercedes-Benz's rear spoiler is a fairly discreet affair

The specific power output of 188bhp per litre is a number to be marvelled at, even though it uses a turbocharger.

Its 376bhp goes to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a 4Matic four-wheel drive system. It is normally front-wheel drive, apportioning power – up to a maximum of 50 percent – to the rear wheels only once the fronts begin to lose traction.

At the front, the A 45 retains the A-Class’s MacPherson strut suspension but is fitted with stiffer steering knuckles and changes to bushings, springs and dampers. At the rear, the multi-link suspension is more heavily revised – including becoming rigidly attached to the body to provide greater precision and stiffness, presumably at the expense of some refinement and isolation.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Braking is by ventilated and cross-drilled disc brakes all round. There’s no ceramic option but you can have the calipers in red, if you're willing to pay for it.

To combat Audi's brazen attempt to shoehorn Mercedes-AMG out of the way, the Stuttgart outfit decided to go over the A 45 with a finetooth comb and tweaked not only the 2.0-litre engine, but also made the gear ratios closer and variable dynamic modes - to help you switch from quiet cruiser to racous riot. Outside the A 45 was given a light refresh with small changes made to the front and rear, and the addition of LED headlights. 

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week