Ford, Volkswagen and Subaru each build hatchback cars designed for performance. Each offering has a unique set of abilities and drawbacks, yet each will leave a driver smiling after a high-speed flog through twisty roads.
Even in the hot hatch segment, though, there are good cars, and there are great cars.
Typically the most sought-after performance hatchbacks don’t arrive in the U.S. Instead they spend their days happily taunting us from the shores of Europe. Could things change with the introduction of the Audi S3 Sportback and the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG? Well, as long as there’s hasn’t been a firm “no,” we will hold on to hope.
Both the S3 and the A45 AMG will debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, and both are sure to sit atop the heap of hot hatch supremacy. Comparison tests will be pure heaven.
The 300-hp Audi S3 Sportback will use a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter TFSI engine strong enough to pull the S3 to 62 miles per hour in just 5.0 seconds when connected to the optional S-Tronic gearbox. Rowing your own gears, expect to get there in 5.5 seconds. Power reaches the ground through Audi’s Quattro AWD system. Top speed will be governed at 155 mph, while fuel economy should average 34 miles per gallon. Could there be a more perfect combination of fun, performance, utility and efficiency in a car?
Mercedes-Benz might say so.
Under the hood of the A45 AMG lurks a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 which pounds out 360 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired to a 7-speed AMG dual-clutch transmission, and power is sent to the ground using 4Matic all-wheel drive. Acceleration from 0-60 miles per hour happens in under 4.5 seconds, and it will match the Audi’s top speed of 155 mph.
Pricing isn’t available on either car, because no one is sure if these two will ever be sold in the United States. Here’s hoping they are—I know some roads just waiting for cars like these!
Your pick: Audi S3 Sportback or Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG?