The A 45’s chassis is every inch the finely polished, hardcore marvel required to keep the car hunkered down and haulin’ in the face of all that speed and when tested by a tortured surface. The Mercedes could do with a touch more delicacy and communicative balance through a long, fast bend.

But in dealing with the sort of bumps and blind corners that we Brits are likely to find on the pretty route between where we are and where we need to be, it shows off a combination of taut damping, grip, response and agility that you’ll find once in a blue moon in a hot hatchback.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The way the A 45 AMG stops is monumentally impressive

In places and at speeds where an M140i would begin to run out of body control and circumstances in which you’d seldom find yourself in an RS3 for simple lack of driver reward, the A 45 really begins to shine. The dynamic appeal is a bit one-dimensional, in that it flows more from what punishment the chassis will take than from what it’ll give back.

This is a car to hustle into the apex, hard on the brake pedal, rather than one to hurry through the heart of a corner on the power. The dampers instantly hoover up bumps with lots of commitment and under considerable lateral load.

Meanwhile, the car feels directionally alert but not hyperactive. There’s a slight stability bias about the cornering balance. That makes it almost as quick in the wet as it is in the dry and it allows you to use as much power as you like the minute you start unwinding the steering without fear of oversteer.

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It also means, however, that the car’s attitude through a bend isn’t remotely throttle-adjustable – which is the kind of handling enrichment that you can sometimes find in a four-wheel-drive performance car.

Someone high up at Affalterbach clearly thinks that this is how an AMG hot hatchback – a feeder car, perhaps, into something with a more mature repertoire – should handle. For us, it could do with a more rearwards torque bias. But either way, it’s a blast to drive.

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