Photos: AMG

For the last few years, we’ve had to simply make do with 300 to 350 horsepower as the expected gold standard for our best hot hatchbacks. How have we survived this long? How have we managed to exist in a world so devoid of pointless, excessive hatchback speed? Fortunately, “excess” is basically a one-word summary of AMG, and the new Mercedes-AMG A45 S is here to solve our problems.

AMG’s take on the new A-Class hatchback and CLA sedan arrived at the Goodwood Festival of Speed yesterday, and they do not disappoint.

Meet what is being hailed as the most powerful four-cylinder engine currently in production: a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit putting out 416 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque in S guise. This hatchback will handily trump the likes of the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R, and probably make the good noises doing it.

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If the S is too much for you, the standard AMG A45 makes 382 HP and 354 lb-ft of torque from the same unit. The AMG A45 S is supposed to also do zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds; the standard one does it in four flat.

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All engines are connected to an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, and as fun as a manual would be on either of these motors we all know they’re on the way out—and Mercedes doesn’t roll that way anyway. They are, of course, all-wheel drive.

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Also on order: Drift Mode, because every car should have Drift Mode under the laws that exist in my mind. A new electronically controlled rear axle differential can send torque to either rear wheel when needed, and when Drift Mode is set these cars will effectively get sideways on command. You get six driving modes total: “Slippery”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport +”, “Individual” and “RACE.” The latter is standard on the S and optional on the base car. I like how “RACE” is in all caps; that’s how you know it’s not fucking around.

The new A-Class and CLA are effectively the same car, and while we do not get the A-Class hatchback in America, we do get the CLA and the A-Class sedan.

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Specs on the CLA A45 AMG S were curiously not announced yesterday, though I think we can assume it’s coming later with similar figures.

I for one welcome the era of the 400 horsepower four-cylinder engine. Too much is never enough.

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