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Mercedes-Benz turns up the heat on its 2016 A45 AMG to bypass the hot hatch competition

The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is like forbidden fruit here in the U.S. Yes, we get its sibling, the equally powerful CLA45 AMG, but there’s something about a 355-horsepower hot hatch that just feels so right. Of course, Mercedes-Benz isn’t alone in playing “keep away” with muscle-bound hatchbacks from America; Audi keeps its RS3 Sportback off our roads too.

With those grievances laid out, Mercedes-Benz has updated its A Class for 2016, and turned up the heat on its A45 AMG to new levels. Instead of 355 HP, the face-lifted version now makes 376 HP and 351 pound-feet of torque. With a 21 HP and 18 lb-ft of torque bump over the current generation, the 2016 A45 AMG moves past the new Audi RS3’s 362 HP and regains the title of most powerful production hatchback. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder doesn’t have an equal in the market right now.

Performance figures have been improved accordingly. Zero to 60 mph takes just 4.2 seconds now, an improvement of 0.4 seconds, while top speed remains limited at 155 mph. It’s not just the extra power that has helped its acceleration; the seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission has been retuned for quicker shifts and shorter gear ratios.

Related: The 2015 Audi RS3 Sedan Is Coming To The U.S.; Still No Sportback

A new Dynamic Plus Package adds a mechanical front-axle locking differential and AMG Ride Control sport suspension with two-stage adaptive damping. Also new for 2016 are driving modes: comfort, sport, sport +, and individual modes.

Styling tweaks are minimal, including a revised front fascia, standard diamond grill, LED headlights, and new graphics. Inside, the infotainment system has been increased to an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

If 376 HP just isn’t enough for you, an AMG S version is reportedly in the works with almost 400 HP. No doubt, Mercedes-Benz is putting on a strong front for incoming rivals like the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R400. And while its absolute torture to only be able to hear about these super-powered hot hatches for the European market, I still firmly support these activities.

The 2016 A Class goes on sale July 3 with deliveries starting in September.