The Mercedes-AMG A 45 has been the go-to hot hatch for the well-heeled, but increasing competition from newer high-power, all-wheel drive pocket rockets has pushed Affalterbach to revamp its smallest model in order to stay on top.

Spyshots show a fairly menacing-looking machine, the standard A-Class body hunkered down onto a wider track, a lower ride height and larger seven-spoke alloys. At the rear, one can easily spot the small twin exhaust exits that poke out of a hacksawed rear valance, although the production version should receive larger quad tailpipes integrated into the diffuser, as with the current model.

Built on a new Modular Front Architecture (MFA2) platform, the next A 45 will likely utilise the same M133 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the outgoing car, albeit boosted to over 400 hp in order to take the power crown away from the new Audi RS3. The 4Matic all-wheel drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission should also be retained.

The new A 45 may not be the only performance variant of the next-gen A-Class – reports suggest that a halfway-house A 40 variant will also be offered, rivalling the Audi S3 and featuring between 340 and 350 hp.