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Goodwood LIVE: 2016 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The range-topping A45 AMG packs a 381-horsepower turbo four.

Mercedes-Benz has given the entry-level A-Class hatchback a mid-cycle facelift.

The A-Class is built on the same front-wheel drive MFA platform as the CLA-Class, the GLA-Class and the B-Class. The visual updates are minor and largely limited to a revised front bumper, a re-drawn grille and new-look tail lamps. New alloy wheel designs and additional paint colors round out the list of exterior modifications.

Inside, the A benefits from a new two-pod instrument cluster and the latest generation of Mercedes' infotainment system, which is displayed on an eight-inch screen. The hatchback is now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto software.

More significant updates are found under the hood. Notably, the range-topping Mercedes-AMG A 45 earns the honor of being the most powerful regular-production compact on the planet thanks to a tweaked 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 381 horsepower - about 20 more than the outgoing model - and 350 lb-ft. of torque. The turbo four boasts an impressive output of 191 horsepower per liter of displacement.

Bolted to a seven-speed automatic transmission that transfers power to all four wheels, the 2.0-liter sends the A 45 from zero to 62 mph in just 4.2 seconds, nearly half a second faster than last year's model. Top speed remains electronically limited to 155 mph.

Select models gain Mercedes' Dynamic Select system, which lets the driver choose from four driving modes called Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual. Each mode modifies the feel of the engine, the transmission, the steering and, surprisingly, the air conditioning. The aforementioned A45 ditches the standard A-Class' Eco mode in favor of a Sport+ mode, while selecting the optional sport suspension adds a fifth mode dubbed Race.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is scheduled to go on sale across Europe this fall. How much of a premium it will command over its predecessor has not been announced yet.

What's next?

At the time of writing Mercedes is not planning on offering the A-Class in the United States. However, the A 45's 381-horsepower turbo four will almost certainly make its way under the hood of both the CLA 45 and the GLA 45 in the coming months.

Live images by Ben Hsu.

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