Cheaper Mercedes muscle cars coming

Mercedes-Benz’s in-house performance god AMG is working hard on two front-wheel drive-based offerings based on the forthcoming A-class hatch and CLA four-door coupe.

The A45 AMG will arrive first in March 2013. It packs a hyper-tuned 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s said to match its Audi RS3 rival’s 250kW and 450Nm.

This kind of muscle would be too much for trad front-drive to handle. So AMG will shoehorn an on-demand all-wheel drive system underneath. These types of systems act primarily as front-drivers until the front tyres reach their tractive limits, then engine power is apportioned to the rear wheels as well.

Early indications point to a circa-$70k price tag for the A45 AMG, roughly on par with its nearest locally available rival, the BMW M135i.

As for the CLA -- which Benz will no doubt label a four-door coupe, and suggest familial ties with the bigger CLS sedan -- it will employ the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine, Haldex part-time AWD and seven-speed dual-clutch combo as the A45. But we’ll have to wait until after mainstream CLA models launch in 2014 first.

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