Mercedes has thrown the wraps off the A 45 AMG ahead of its global premiere at the Geneva Motor Show next month. The hot-hatch marks the first time Mercedes’ performance division has released a vehicle in the compact class in its 45-year history. And its first effort doesn’t pull many punches, with a 2.0-liter engine that Mercedes touts as the most powerful series production four-cylinder engine in the world.

Said turbocharged engine boasts a maximum output of 265 kW (360 hp) and up to 450 Nm of torque, giving the unit a power density of 133 kW (181 hp) that Mercedes says outstrips even the most powerful super sports cars. Despite this, the engine complies with the EU6 emissions standards, with CO2 emissions of 161-165 g/km and fuel consumption figures of 6.9 liters per 100 km (34 mpg) in NEDC combined mode.

The engine is mated to AMG’s seven-speed SpeedShift dual-clutch transmission, which transfers power to the vehicle’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system that comes as standard. What this adds up to is a zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) time of 4.6 seconds, on the way to the electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).

The A 45 AMG also sports what Mercedes calls a “Momentary M mode,” which allows the driver to activate manual mode while in “C” (Controlled Efficiency) and “S” (Sport) modes by pressing the up or down shift paddle once. S and M modes promise shift times similar to those of the SLS AMG GT super sports car, while C mode puts comfort and fuel efficiency at the fore and activates the ECO start/stop function.

Mercedes promises a “fascinating, full engine sound” from the vehicle’s AMG sports exhaust system that features large pipe cross-sections and an automatically controlled exhaust flap and is also found on its bigger brother, the SLK55 AMG. If that doesn’t satisfy, an “even more emotional and striking engine sound” can be had with the optional AMG Performance exhaust system.

Various option packages are also available, adding everything from a rear aerofoil and larger front splitter, to privacy glass and AMG wheel bolt covers.

Just as Mercedes' introduction of the new A Class at last year's Geneva Motor Show was an attempt to attract a new demographic to the three-pointed star fold, the A 45 AMG is its performance division's attempt to appeal to buyers who are younger than AMG's traditional clientele – and when we say younger, we mean those in the 30 to mid-40 age bracket.

The A 45 AMG is set to go on sale on April 8, 2013, at a price yet to be announced. It will make its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show, which starts on March 5.

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