Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The Mercedes GLA 45 AMG performance stats make for impressive reading. Like the A 45 AMG hatchback and CLA 45 AMG coupe, the Mercedes GLA 45 AMG is powered by a 355bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that can currently lay claim to being the most powerful four-cylinder engine in series production.

In addition to its substantial horsepower it also generates 450Nm of torque – more than an Audi R8 V8. The GLA 45 is four-wheel drive and up to 50 percent of the torque can be sent to the rear wheels when required to help drive the car out of corners as quickly as possible.

The 0-62mph sprint takes 4.8 seconds (two tenths slower than the A 45 and CLA 45) and top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

A seven-speed automatic DCT (dual-clutch transmission) is fitted and it's very tractable and efficient around town, although occasionally it hesitates to choose the correct gear when negotiating steep hills. Paddle-shift controls behind the steering wheel enable you to change gear yourself if desired.

With the optional sports exhaust system the GLA sounds quite special, almost like a competition car with an impressive repertoire of snap, crackle and pop sounds from the tailpipes when changing gear.

The only criticism – and it’s a very picky one – is that the car gathers speed in such an efficient and undramatic way that subjectively it doesn’t feel quite as fast as you’d expect given the on-paper stats.

With all that power you might expect the GLA 45 AMG to be rather a wild ride but in fact it’s anything but. There’s a huge amount of grip and traction while cornering quickly is a stable, planted and drama-free experience.

It’s very impressive, although if you’re looking for an exciting driving experience it has to be said that there are cheaper, less powerful hot hatches that offer a bigger fun factor for far less money.

With the standard suspension setup there’s very little body roll and the GLA 45 feels not at all like an SUV. It’s very similar to the A 45 AMG hatchback but with a slightly higher driving position – after all, that’s exactly what it is.

As an option it’s possible to specify the car with firmer ‘AMG Performance’ springs and dampers. It feels a little more agile and playful in this spec, although it’s still extremely stable with huge levels of grip.

The large, high-performance brakes deserve special mention – they’re powerful, progressive and inspire plenty of confidence.

As for off-road ability, that’s not really what this car is about – it’s a tarmac-only machine.