2013 Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport

With the launch of the new A-Class, Mercedes-Benz is getting serious about the premium hatchback segment – much more than it was with the previous A-Class, B-Class and the old, C-Class Sport Coupe. And with the premium hatchback territory comes the high-end hot hatch market. Audi is already playing that game with the RS3 and BMW is heading in with the new M135i, so Mercedes is going to need an entry of its own. And this is the latest on its development.

According to British weekly Autocar, Benz is preparing to launch a new A45 AMG early next year with a transverse 2.0-liter turbo four producing as much as 330 horsepower and over 300 pound-feet of torque. That's about par with the competition, but produced from less displacement thanks to input from AMG High-Performance Engines that provides the power for the company's Formula One racing team (not to mention McLaren and Force India).

The power is tipped to be put down to all four wheels by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, tuned to mimic rear-drive handling characteristics. Suspension and rolling stock are anticipated to be greatly enhanced, as will the aero kit over the A250 Sport "engineered by AMG" pictured above. Stop/start and regenerative braking will reportedly help make the A45 AMG more economical than its rivals while matching their five-second 0-60 times.