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Mercedes-Benz will officially premiere its most powerful A-Class in Geneva – the A 45 AMG will take its place at the top of the W176 line-up, boasting 360 hp at 6,000 rpm and 450 Nm at 2,250 to 5,000 rpm for output numbers. Prior to its arrival, the A250 Sport was the leading model of the line.

The car wears an AMG 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo four-pot, the M132, with a maximum charge pressure of 1.8 bar, and Merc proudly states that with the abovementioned output figures, the hand-built, EU6 emissions-ready mill is the most powerful series production four-cylinder engine in the world.

Mated to an AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed dual-clutch sports transmission – directly flange-mounted on the transversely-installed engine – and with AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard, the car has a 0-100 km/h time of 4.6 seconds and an electronically-limited 250 km/h top speed.

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Tech highlights of the mill include spray-guided direct petrol injection via piezo injectors positioned centrally in the four combustion chambers, a gravity-die sandcast all-aluminium crankcase, weight-optimised crank assembly with forged steel crankshaft and forged pistons with friction-optimised piston rings. Also on, a high-performance cooling system, with components from the SLS AMG.

Elsewhere, there’s a twin-pipe AMG sports exhaust system, which features large pipe
cross-sections and an automatically controlled exhaust flap, which is continuously adjusted by map control according to the power called up by the driver, load status and engine speed.

Optionally, there’s an AMG Performance exhaust system, again with exhaust flap and a dedicated tailpipe trim design. This one offers yet more in the way of rumble when the throttle is open and during gear shifting; the double-declutching function during downshifting and the interruption of ignition and injection during upshifting under full load makes for an audible treat, so it goes.

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On top of the double-declutching and Race Start functions, there are three driving programme modes, C (Controlled Efficiency), S (Sport) and M (Momentary M mode), the last enabling the driver to activate manual mode (M) in C or S modes without having to remove a hand from the steering wheel, simply by pressing the “up” or “down” shift paddle once. The mode offers the dynamism and performance of gear-shifting in manual mode in all of the automatic driving programmes, with automatic up- and down-shifting in the mix.

The A 45 AMG also gets a three-stage ESP with ESP Curve Dynamic Assist – for the ESP, the modes are On, Sport Handling and Off. The Curve Dynamic Assist, meanwhile, is adapted to the selected ESP mode, and provides an imperceptible braking intervention on the inside wheel to offer more precise cornering.

The suspension has also been given the AMG treatment – aside from specifically-tuned spring/damper units and larger stabilisers, the car’s three-link front suspension gets stiffer steering knuckles, more rigid bearings and totally new elastokinematics, while the four-link rear axle is new, with geometry and setup unique to the model.

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As for brakes, the car wears an AMG high-performance braking system with ventilated and perforated discs, and for wheels has twin-spoke AMG light-alloy units finished in titanium grey, wrapped with 235/40 R 18 tyres as standard.

Exterior design elements include an AMG “twin blade” radiator grille and cross strut in the AMG front apron, both finished in matt titanium grey. Side sill panels and a rear diffusor insert are trimmed in matt titanium grey, and of course there’s a Turbo AMG badge strapped on.

Inside, the car features sports seats in Artico man-made leather/Dinamica microfibre with red contrasting top-stitching. The dashboard trim, meanwhile, is in a carbon-fibre look, contrasting with the five air vents in black/red, red seat belts and the AMG door sill panels. As per usual, a host of individualisation options are available for the car.

An exclusive A 45 AMG “Edition 1” version adds an AMG Night package and Aerodynamics package as well as AMG sports stripes in matt graphite grey on the bonnet, roof and sides of the model’s cirrus white exterior. Other colour elements come in the form of red highlights on the radiator grille, exterior mirrors and rear aerofoil, red painted brake calipers and AMG multispoke 19-inch matt black alloys.