We have tested both the brutish Mercedes-AMG A45 and the fantastic new Ford Focus RS, one in a rather menacing shade of green and the other in its potent signature of Nitrous Blue. Both represent a new breed of hot hatchback, tentatively dubbed the hyper hatch. Each has all wheel drive, and both over 340 BHP. You can check out each of these cars reviews on our YouTube channel. After driving both it is time to compare and contrast these slightly mental, but also astonishing cars.
You likely know all about the 2016 Ford Focus RS as it has dominated the front covers of many motoring magazines. Powered by a 2.3 litre EcoBoost turbocharged 4 cylinder engine, this RS puts its 345 BHP to the ground via all wheel drive and an engaging 6 speed manual transmission. 0-62 MPH can be achieved in as little as 4.7 seconds and it will go onto a top speed of 165 MPH.
The Mercedes-AMG A45 is just as impressive when it comes to the facts and figures. It’s 2.0 litre turbocharged engine has been tuned to deliver an incredible 376 BHP. Thanks to an improved 7 speed dual clutch transmission, and all wheel drive, this baby AMG sprints from 0-62 MPH in a faster 4.2 seconds, but it does have a lower limited top speed of 155 MPH.
When it comes to interiors there is no contest. The Mercedes is, well, a Mercedes. Great quality materials line a modern cabin featuring as many luxuries as you wish to tick on the options list. The biggest criticism of the Focus RS is its interior. Whilst offering more space than the A45 and housing a pair of excellent seats, it maybe doesn’t feel special enough for this caliber of car. There are plenty of plastics that fall to hand and it is near identical to the standard car.
However, it is when these cars are in motion that they both play their aces. The Mercedes-AMG A45 is blisteringly fast and gains momentum like it is going out of fashion. All wheel drive provides stability and gives you the confidence to push this car hard. I have never encountered a hot hatchback that takes even the most challenging roads in its stride in the same casual manner that this does.
Whilst the Mercedes is effortlessly capable, it is the Ford that proves to be the most engaging. You can really feel what the car is doing beneath you as the excellent chassis communicates with the driver. Well judged steering teamed with a manual transmission keeps you involved in the performance equation. Also those Brembo brakes do their job very well indeed. Don’t get me wrong, the Mercedes is thrilling, but like a rollercoaster it feels like it could do it without you. Whereas the RS needs you to be the organic part of the machine.
There are defiantly reasons to buy both of these cars. Each is a fantastic triumph of lunacy crammed into a practical hatchback body. But the primary thing that tips the balance in the favour of the 2016 Ford Focus RS is the price. A Mercedes-AMG A45 costs from £39,995 whereas the RS starts at £31,000. Factor in the playful drift mode and the Ford is an absolute bargain.