To some, this new CLA 45 AMG could very well suffer from an existential crisis. Why? It's an AMG model... with a turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and four-wheel-drive. But, this is the future, so strap yourselves in and hope for the best. It's the halo version of Merc's new baby saloon, with underpinnings nabbed from an A-Class and a drivetrain that features the most powerful production turbocharged four-pot engine in the world - also shared with the A-Class, in this case the A 45 AMG.
Of course, AMG is now no stranger to turbocharging, gradually phasing out the old naturally aspirated, iron-fisted 6.2-litre V8 with a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 in the big cars. But with the CLA, they've gone little, and highly combustible. The CLA 45 AMG packs 354bhp, 331lb ft of torque and will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mph.
It's still hand-built by a single AMG technician as per The Rules, and features a crankcase made from aluminium, forged pistons with ‘friction-optimised' piston rings, something called ‘nanoslide' cylinder wall tech, and of course, that twin-scroll turbocharger. We're told it allows a "spontaneous build-up of charge pressure"; hopefully not the "hey look, you're in a tree" kind of spontaneity.
There is some reassuringly-AMG news around the exhaust. A flap helps switch between cruising and bruising, and emits a - and these are AMG's own words - "fascinating, full engine sound that is particularly impressive during powerful acceleration".
The CLA 45 AMG packs a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, with software pinched from the SLS AMG. You get a ‘race start' function (thumbs up), three driving programmes and a double-declutching option. The 4Matic system keeps the CLA AMG in front-wheel-drive mode during ‘normal' driving, but splits the power 50:50 when a swarm of bees descends upon your nether regions; a prop shaft transfers the 2.0-litre four-pot's power to the rear axle, via an electro-hydraulically controlled clutch. When slip is detected at the front, the clutch, erm, clutches and engages the rear axle.
There's been some AMG tweakery to the CLA's suspension too - stronger bearings on the front and back, together with specifically tuned spring and damper units, all sitting behind 18in light alloy wheels. There's even ‘Turbo AMG' lettering on the wing, lots of leather and brushed aluminium inside, a ‘racetimer' and an assortment of wallet-busting AMG options (better seats, new exhaust, stiffer suspension, painted calipers etc).
It'll hit the UK this autumn, with prices announced closer to the on sale date. For now, why not have a click through the pictures, and let us know what you think of the A 45 AMG's new sibling.