Within months of each other, the big three premium German carmakers have released their own £30k-plus hot hatch.
All boast turbocharged engines and 300bhp, but which is best: Mercedes A45 AMG, Audi S3, or BMW M135i? Read on for the definitive CAR verdict.
A new breed of fast family car
We used to be driving ourselves dizzy up here in trick Mitsubishi Lancer Evos and Subaru Imprezas on steroids, relatively affordable fast cars that loomed large inside our heads and on our bedroom walls. Ten years on, however, the once untouchable four-door Japanese batmobiles are about as en vogue as a Nokia 3110 mobile phone or Rio MP3 player. Instead, the compact crackerjacks most petrolheads embrace in 2013 still can be had with four doors, four-wheel drive and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, but they are no longer street-legal derivatives of rally-bred icons made in the Far East. It’s Deutschland über Alles these days, premium eclipsing mainstream, Freude durch Kraft dressed up in more socially acceptable formats. Offering a similar mix of exciting dynamics, engineering excellence and fire-breathing performance, the latest masters of the super-GTI segment are the 296bhp Audi S3, the 316bhp BMW M135i, and the new (and utterly rampant) 355bhp Mercedes A45 AMG. Gentlemen, start your engines for a two-day, no-holds-barred shootout on the Dolomites’ finest tyre-shredding, brake-eating turf.