Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

There’s just one option to choose from when exploring Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG performance. It’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which boasts 355bhp and 450Nm of pulling power.

It feeds power to all four wheels through a seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox which can be operated using the paddles behind the steering wheel.

There are three driving ‘modes’ which you can select depending on the style of driving you’re doing. C mode is the most comfortable, dulling throttle response and gear change ferocity and activating the fuel-saving stop/start system. S mode is a sportier set-up, with sharper responses and a throatier bark from the exhaust. M stands for manual, and allows full control of the gearbox by the driver using the paddle-shifters.

The dash to 62mph takes just 4.6 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph. While this is undoubtedly a fast car, unless you’re using the Race Start function it doesn’t feel overly brash. Actually, this is a car you can live with day-to-day quite happily.

Left in C mode the engine and gearbox cope easily with more sedate town and open road driving, although there is a slight delay to gear shifts when gently pressing the accelerator.

Switching to S mode or even into M and you’re in for a treat; the noise is brilliant and the responses pin-sharp. Once the redline is reached the car slots home another gear and you just get more turbocharged ferocity.

Update in 2015

For 2015 the entire A-Class range was updated, and the A 45 didn't escape. Its engine got a power increase to 376bhp and torque went up to 475Nm, while the seven-speed gearbox got shorter ratios and the body was tweaked for aerodynamic improvements. All of that means 0-62mph is possible in 4.2 seconds.

Thanks for four-wheel drive, the A 45 AMG has an absolute tonne of grip through corners.

It’s an extremely stable and confidence-inspiring car, which is fantastic because it’s also pretty quick.

The steering is incredibly well-weighted and very direct, and while it’s a little numb around the centre, it’s a clever system which speeds up as you speed up. This means you don’t have to turn the wheel as much to get around tighter corners.

You get a three-stage traction control system, which defaults to the car’s original state. A single press engages Sport Handling mode, which allows a bit more slip before the electronics cut in, allowing faster drivers to explore the limits of the chassis. Finally, holding the button down turns the system off altogether meaning it leaves all the talent to the driver.

There are extra chassis options available, AMG Sports Suspension and AMG Performance Suspension.