Time to trade in the family wagon?
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: Middle class sportswagen celebrates 40th birthday with more power, real downforce and tasteful GTI nods. Only 1000 coming to the UK too, so think of a good hiding place.
Mercedes-AMG A 45: Elder if not elderly statesman of the group inserts four-wheel drive, DCT gearbox and four-cylinder turbo unit into the familiar A-class shell. Bread delivery round optional.
Cheap as chips or sell the kids?
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: There are many flavours of Golf GTI these days and the Clubsport requires dropping an additional £3k over standard. But then you do get 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds, tartan, much downforce and a plaque.
Mercedes-AMG A 45: Not cheap. 40 big ones before options, £51 k as tested, the A45 is every millimetre a premium prospect. You get that shiny star and the best performance here, but also increased likelihood of singledom.
Everything in its place or waste of space?
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: Little compromise over a regular GTI here so acceptable front and rear room with a useful boot. But if you’re considering a Golf your kids will be at boarding anyway.
Mercedes-AMG A 45: Looks like a van with windows from the outside, curious impression of a small saloon from the inside. Okay in the front but back-benchers will be revolting.
Luxury palace or Crystal Palace?
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: VW has its own almost-premium furrow that the Clubsport is happy to plough. You’re essentially a boy racer who’s been to finishing school in a Paul Smith off-the-peg.
Mercedes-AMG A 45: Most of the materials are good quality but the design is a little old-school now and of dubious taste, like a bank vault decorated by Katie Price.
Nuclear powerstation or lacking motivation?
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: This flexible 2.0-litre can be wound out to almost 300 but you get 261 brake horsepower, with the ability to access a 10-second ecstatic burst of 286bhp before you need to clean up.
Mercedes-AMG A 45: Quite the former. Revisions pump up the 2.0-litre petrol to an absurd 376bhp. It might sound like a didgeridoo played through The Who’s PA but who cares when 0-62mph takes 4.2 seconds?
Handles on rails or railing on the handles?
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: Retuned suspension keeps things taut, balanced and controlled. Will adopt stupid cornering angles if you really try, but it’s more Iceman than Maverick. Or for the under 30s, more Superman than Batman.
Mercedes-AMG A 45: Stiffer than an Icelandic bar bill even with the Dynamic Plus option box. Unshakeable grip and traction to shame a Chieftan but the steering is as interactive as a postal vote.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40
Engine: 1984cc turbo 4-cyl
Power: 261bhp @ 5350rpm
Torque: 258lb ft @ 1700rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic with manual override, front-wheel drive
Top speed: 155mph
On sale: Now
Mercedes-AMG A 45 4Matic
Engine: 1991cc turbo 4-cyl
Power: 376bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 350lb ft @ 2250rpm
Transmission: seven-speed automatic with manual mode, four-wheel drive
Top speed: 155mph
On sale: Now
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40:
Indulge your hot-hatch itch without ditching all semblance of sanity and comfort. GTI Extra. 4/5
Mercedes-AMG A 45 4Matic:
AMG magic spread too thinly leaves A45 lacking direction, unless it’s forwards. 3/5