If the Mercedes-AMG A45 S does go down as the most powerful combustion-engined hot hatch in history, it will be worthy of its fame.

This potent 2.0-litre engine may not sing, but the performance it spawns is remarkable and there’s character in the heady power delivery, if not quite as much as we’d like in the exhaust note.

AMG brings its hottest hatch yet to life without harming usability

Perhaps the most impressive element of all, however, is how tractable and well mannered this complicated and brutally stressed driveline is when it isn’t being fully exercised.

Indeed, it’s the all-round usability of this package that will make A45 S ownership so tempting to many. Given its cast-iron control of the body at speed, the chassis demonstrates genuine compliance. The loss of half a star is only because, although the A45 S delivers more driver appeal than most hot hatchbacks, it is not quite up there as a £50,000 sports car.

As an ownership proposition, it must therefore be considered as a practical four-seater rather than just as a purist’s driving machine. That said, those in need of a supersonic hatchback should look no further.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Mercedes-AMG A45 S

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