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« Back Double Up: Up! GTi + Mercedes A45S

VW UP! GTI

Bigger isn’t always better – that’s a good mantra for the VW Up! GTi. That and ‘good things come in small packages’. You see this is the first time the smallest VW in the range has had the proper GTi treatment and VW hasn’t gone at it with half-measures, yet it also hasn’t overcooked the pudding.

You see there’s a lot to be said for a car that isn’t overpowered – that’s not to say it’s underpowered – but the Up! GTi is a car that you can extract 100% of the performance from down your favourite back road and have an absolute blast, all while not having to worry about points on your licence. The Up! GTi (yes, the ‘!’ is mandatory) is blessed with a tiny little three cylinder, 1.0 litre turbo engine which produces a significant 113bhp. Not significant because it’ll gain you bragging rights in the pub, but significant because it’s the same amount of power that the Mk1 Golf GTi had.

Weighing in at only 960kg helps too, giving a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds (that’s faster than the Golf). You get a wonderful three-cylinder off-beat thrum from the exhaust, the steering is direct, the handling is nimble and the cabin is pure retro VW GTi with the tartan seats and perfect design. This may be one of the smallest hot hatches on sale today, but it’s also one of the absolute best.

MERCEDES-AMG A45S

When the original Mercedes A45 came out it shook the hot hatch world to the core – a crazy 377bhp, AWD, dual-clutch hatchback that had more cross-country pace than most supercars yet could be driven daily and used as a family runabout. Then Audi hit the 400bhp mark with their RS3 and Mercedes went back to the drawing board.

For the new model A-Class there has been a delay in the top-ranking car returning, having our appetites teased with the excellent 306bhp A35 (which you could also win in the BOTB competition).

But now we have not one, but two A45 models to feast on – the std A45 and this fire breathing example – the A45S. Featuring a totally new 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine it produces a frankly staggering 415bhp – in a fully warranted road car! – and 500Nm of torque. That means it can hit 62mph in just 3.9 seconds on the way to a 168mph top speed.

Opt for the AMG Drivers Package and you also get a Drift Mode just like in the E63S, where you can have all the power to the rear wheels only for sideways fun. Visually the A35 has softened the blow slightly, but the A45S gets bigger wheels, bigger brakes, wider arches and quad tailpipes at the rear, plus a bigger rear spoiler. Oh, and the now-standard huge Panamericana grille on the front that marks this out as a top-level AMG model.

There simply won’t be another car that can cover ground as fast as this, any road, any weather and we're proud to be able to give this car away in the comp! 

Cash alternative for this prize is £54,000

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