In a bid to blow the Audi RS 3 Sportback out of the water, Mercedes-AMG recently introduced an even wilder version of the entry-level A 45 hot hatch that’s powered by a 381-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. As expected, the company has confirmed the CLA-Class, the CLA-Class Shooting Brake, and the GLA-Class will be fitted with the same engine in the not-too-distant future.
The drivetrain will be all but identical to the one that’s found under the hood of the A-Class. Hand-built in Affalterbach, Germany, the four-banger generates 381 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a healthy 475 foot-pounds of torque from 2,250 to 5,000 rpm. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission that has been redesigned with shorter gears for better acceleration and a sport-tuned version of Mercedes’ time-tested 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
The extra power sends the A 45 from zero to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, nearly half a second faster than the outgoing 355-horsepower model. The CLA and the GLA are both expected to show a similar improvement, but fuel economy will remain roughly the same.
Surprisingly, the extra power will not be complemented by a facelift. The entire A range benefited from a very minor nip-and-tuck because it was launched at the 2012 edition of the Geneva Motor Show, but the CLA and the GLA are newer so they will carry on unchanged for at least a few more years.
Mercedes-Benz has not revealed when the more powerful versions of the CLA 45 and the GLA 45 will be available, but sources close to the automaker have hinted they will land on our shores halfway through October as 2016 models. If that’s the case, look for both AMG-tuned compacts to greet the public for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show that will open its doors this September.