Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG: The new hot-hatch king

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. It's the hottest thing on the block since JLo went viral.

If you want one, and haven't already ordered it, you're looking at a March 2014 delivery date, but take it from us, it'll be worth the wait. Introducing the new king of hot-hatches.

Any car capable of a 12.6-second standing 400m sprint is well and truly on the money, but a small, series-production hatchback that can do a twelve-six is unheard of. That said, the A45 is a deceptive little beast. It short-shifts in first and second gears - accompanied by a delicious 'whip-crack' from the quad exhausts - and it's so stable around the Phillip Island circuit that only a glance at the speedo reveals just how mega-quick this baby is.

We drove two versions on the track today - the 'standard' car and one fitted with $1990 worth of sports suspension, that stiffens the springs by 20 percent. The stock A45 gets its power down beautifully and holds plenty of corner speed, but the sports-suspended, track-biased version is that much better again. It tips into a corner more precisely, and favours its outside-rear tyre more balance-wise - removing the mild understeer of the standard car on some corner exits. Its balance is also more sensitive to throttle inputs and it seems to carry a smidge more corner speed. But is the sports suspension a step too far on the road? We'll find out tomorrow!

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