Welcome to the world’s most powerful hot hatch, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S.There may only be a fairly conventional 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo beneath the bonnet, but AMG’s finest have been able to extract 415bhp – that’s more than a Ferrari Testarossa.

Of course, that sort of performance doesn’t come cheap. The UK will only be offered the most potent A45 S, which means buyers will have to stump up over £52,000. But included in that price is the finest cabin in the class, draped in leather, Alcantara and carbon fibre.

However, it comes as a surprise then that the first thing you notice on the move is how comfortable the A45 is despite its vast reserves of power. AMG engineers have been to work on the car’s chassis and suspension, tuning to ensure that the A45 is more forgiving than the old model. And as it’s a car designed to be used every day, it’s not an area that should be overlooked.

Dial the A45 up through its various driving modes, from Comfort right up to Race, and the little Merc takes on a new level of aggression and noise with each mode. Even with 416bhp at your disposal the savagery of the acceleration comes as a shock every time you hit the throttle. The eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox really helps here, firing through changes as the revs climb relentlessly. Mercedes says 0-62mph takes a staggering 3.9 seconds – and it feels every bit as fast as that from the driver’s seat.

But there’s more to the A45 than a point-and-go hot hatch. Beneath the skin Mercedes has engineered a complex four-wheel-drive system that is able to send 50% of the power to the rear wheels to help maximise traction and performance. It makes this rapid hot hatch truly composed and stable at speed.

There aren’t many cars, at any price, that combine this level of performance and usability so effectively.