Mercedes-AMG A45 S 2020 vs the world: How does the new ‘sports car’ compare to the Audi RS3 and BMW M2 Competition?

Don’t make the mistake of calling the second-generation A45 a hot hatch, as Mercedes-AMG will be quick to point out it’s not one.

Instead, the new A45 is apparently a bona-fide sports car – something its predecessor allegedly was not.

Granted, it is hard to argue with the German high-performance brand when you consider how astounding the A45’s headline figures are, especially in flagship S form.

That said, before the A45 S arrives in Australia next month, let’s see how it compares to an old foe (read: another hot hatch) and a genuine sports car (read: a model with two doors).

Yep, this is a tasty comparison we can’t wait to see in the real world, but for now, let’s take a look at how the A45 S stacks up against the Audi RS3 and BMW M2 Competition on paper.

Engines and transmissions

Let’s get straight to the point: the A45 S is motivated by the most potent series-production turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the world, with its 2.0-litre petrol unit pumping out 310kW of power at 6750rpm and 500Nm of torque from 5000-5250rpm.

If the latter seems a little off for a turbo-petrol engine, it’s because Mercedes-AMG did some ‘torque shaping’, which makes the output curve more or less mimic that of a naturally aspirated unit. Why? Old-school thrills, apparently.

The RS3 falls agonisingly short of the A45 S when it comes to outputs, with it powered by a unique 2.5-litre turbo-petrol five-cylinder engine producing 294kW at 7000rpm and 480Nm from 1700-5850rpm.

And it’s mixed news for the M2 Competition and its 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder unit, which comes close in the power stakes (302kW at 7000rpm) but has a comfortable lead when talking the torque (550Nm from 2350-5200rpm).

Transmission-wise, the A45 S is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, while both the RS3 and M2 Competition have one less gear to play with, although the latter does also come with the no-cost option of a purist-friendly six-speed manual.

The RS3 Sportback is the A45's traditional rival. The RS3 Sportback is the A45’s traditional rival.

Performance claims

Surprise, surprise; the A45 S is no slouch in a straight line. The sprint from a standstill to 100km/h takes just 3.9 seconds – a mark supercars were proud of less than a decade ago.

The RS3 isn’t that far behind, at 4.1s, while the M2 Competition is another tenth adrift. Why? Well, it’s the only rear-wheel-drive vehicle here, with the other two sending their outputs to all four wheels. Yep, traction is critical off the line – and every second counts.

Top speed is another area where the A45 S has bragging rights, with it electronically limited to 270km/h. The RS3 and M2 Competition are also handicapped ex-factory, but at a much lower 250km/h.

The M2 Competition is a sports car, but so too is the new A45, apparently. The M2 Competition is a sports car, but so too is the new A45, apparently.

Pricing and specification

The move from hot hatch to sports car has had an effect on the A45’s pricing. Okay, that’s understating it a wee bit, as the generational change means it’s $18,108 dearer than before, at $93,600 plus on-road costs.

Yep, buyers are compensated for the extra spend with a more comprehensive package, but the new A45 still stings the wallet a lot harder. Even if it is a generation older, the RS3 is still nearly $10,000 more affordable, at $83,800.

And the RS3 can also be had in sedan guise for an extra $2700, while the A45’s four-door sibling of sorts, the CLA45, costs an eye-watering $111,200. But we digress…

The M2 Competition is the dearest member of the trio – and by some margin. At $104,900, it’s more than $11,000 upstream when compared to the A45, and just like the RS3, it’s a generation behind.

For a full specification breakdown for all three models, check out the related links scattered throughout this article.