MERCEDES-BENZ A 45 AMG

Indicative drive away price: $82,545

Back-to-back wins in any category is a tough assignment, but that’s exactly what this pocket rocket ship has achieved.

A big factor is that the A 45 AMG has an impressive set of performance statistics, and for model year 2016 these have been enhanced. Out of a 2.0-litre engine, Mercedes has produced a maximum 280kW of power – up 15kW – and an extra 25Nm of torque to bring it up to 475Nm. That makes it one of the most powerful engines of its kind going. With a claimed 0-100km/h time of just 4.2 seconds, that’s good enough to almost match its larger cousins in the AMG performance stable.

Part of the secret lies in how the power is transferred to the pavement: a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive. A kerb weight of just 1480kg helps.

Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system allows the A 45’s characteristics to be changed at the touch of a button, controlling key features such as engine, transmission, suspension, steering and air-conditioning to meet driver preference. Best of all, when you select Sports or Individual modes, the exhaust assumes a life of its own and delivers a purposeful crackle and pop on upshifts and downshifts.

It’s under these circumstances that the A 45 does its best work. Using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters produces rapid-fire gear changes and keeps the engine’s torque at its most usable. And if there was an award for the best-sounding sports car, then the A 45 would be right up there. 

Hip-hugging Recaro seats earned top marks from the judges, as did the sporty interior treatment with carbon-fibre finishes, contrasting red stitching and red seatbelts creating the right ambience without being over the top. 

SCORE
1ST: MERCEDES-BENZ A 45 AMG, 716
2ND: BMW M235i, 686
3RD: HOLDEN INSIGNIA VXR, 640