Recent times have seen a swathe of sporty hatches hit the Australian market. The Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi and Hyundai i30 SR have all been launched in recent weeks. The Volkswagen Golf GTi is due next month.
But let's be clear: as good as the above cars are, there are hot hatches and then there are HOT hatches.
After some runs around the Yarra Valley and then laps on the Phillip Island Grand Prix track, the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG certainly proved itself to be the latter.
Of course, it would want to be - $74,900 is a lot of moolah for a small car. But forgetting about the body shape for a minute and taking a look at the sheer numbers quickly shows that the A 45 AMG is packing considerable heat and worthy of the price tag.
It's powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-scroll turbo petrol engine - the first Merc to have a twin-scroll - which will see it go from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds and hit a limited top-speed of 270km/h.
There's some cool tech at work to allow it to hit those figures. An on-demand multi-spark ignition system allows the spark plugs to fire multiple times instead of once to ensure all of the fuel is burnt inside the cylinder.
Super-precise fuel injectors deliver the exact amount of fuel that is needed, down to each milligram of fuel - which is roughly equal to the weight of a grain of sand.
A second water cooler inside the wheel arch helps deal with the extra heat being generated by the souped-up unit.
Anyhoo, enough of the technical geekery - how is it to drive?
Awesome. Absurdly fun. Fantastic. Basically, it's as good to drive as Derek Zoolander is good-looking (that would be "really, really, really, ridiculously" good, for those who haven't seen the movie). All of that fine-tuning under the bonnet results in a car that launches off the line, maintains its speed and provides a visceral driving experience. As well as ripping speed, it hugs corners tightly.
While it's easy to precisely pinpoint where you want to go in fast corners on the track, it is also very forgiving if you inevitably don't get entry speeds and angles exactly right. It's not a difficult car to drive fast.
To help are some massive brakes - and some bright red callipers - which also add to the enjoyment as they are responsive heading into corners. In fact, the front brakes are just 10mm smaller than those found in the larger C 63 AMG.
A race start function sees the vehicle fly off the line. During some fun drag runs at the Island it was hitting more than 170km/h and rising when crossing the finish line roughly nine seconds after taking off.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is also fantastic, knowing when to slip down or up nearly before you do while driving. Sports mode sees the change in gears sound like a rifle shot and when paddle shifters are used, changes are instantaneous.
Those looking for even more oomph can go for the aerodynamic package for $1990, which sees the addition of various wings and spoilers for 40kg extra down force at 250km/h.
Speaking of which, the Driver's Package has been included as standard for the Australian market, which lifts the max speed to 270km/h.
Also available is a performance suspension package, also $1990; however, you may be hesitant to mess with a good thing.
The standard suspension is expectedly stiff but hardly jarring or overbearing, making it a most capable everyday car.
That's one of the main things about the A 45 AMG: many of its wonders can be enjoyed in everyday driving. This isn't a car you need to head to a track to make the most of - though that is also unsurprisingly great. From the moment you sit in the interior you know you're in a quality car.
The dark sports seats, leather, carbon-fibre-looking finish and red stitching create an air of both luxury and menace. It may be a bit "boy racer" for some but that's generally what happens when you try to sportify a hatch.
But when you turn the ignition, no one will have any gripes. A deep throaty roar lets rip and a smile is likely to break out on your face. The exhaust has modified silencers, meaning it is refined when cruising or driving sedately, and vicious when you give it some humpty, whether at 60km/h or in triple figures.
Being a hatch, there are also practical benefits, for what they are worth. Lightweight materials help the 45 AMG get a very reasonable 6.9L/100km, meaning you don't even need to spend a ton at the servo if you want to drive it softly. But, even though there's a comfort drive setting, you're more than likely going to leave it in Sports mode.
MERCEDES-BENZ A 45 AMGPRICE: $74,900 plus on-road costs
ENGINE: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder twin-scroll turbo
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
TOP SPEED: 270km/h
0-100km/h: 4.6 seconds