Photographers have snapped the new Mercedes-AMG A45 in and around the Nurburgring this week, wearing a thinner disguise than we've seen previously.
It appears Benz's new hyper hatch is very close to being revealed, given all the bumpers and light units look to be the final production units.
Up front the A45 is distinguished from lesser A-Class models by its Panamericana grille and huge intakes in the front bumper. Extensions for the skirts run down the side, and large alloy wheels with massive brakes fill the arches at each corner.
Down back there's a chunky rear bumper integrating a quad-tipped exhaust, while a larger roof spoiler sits atop the tailgate.
We haven't got any images of the interior, though we'd expect the A45 to simply add race-inspired bits to the regular A-Class' cabin – think AMG bucket seats, a sportier steering wheel, carbon-fibre inlays, and model-specific menus for the driver's cluster and MBUX infotainment system.
As for the powertrain, the AMG A45 will be offered in two versions, 'standard' and 'S'. The regular A45 is claimed to develop around 383hp (285kW), while the flagship A45 S will put out a whopping 416hp (310kW), both using a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cyinder petrol engine.
Thanks to a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4Matic+ all-wheel drive (with drift mode), the A45 could set a new acceleration benchmark for performance hatchbacks should it dip under the current model's 4.2-second 0-100 claim.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the 2018 Paris motor show, Tobias Moers, the chairman of the management board of Mercedes-AMG confirmed what we were all wanting to hear, plus some extra detail about the gearbox in its new hot hatch.
"Everything. The 45, the next-generation 45 is an all-new story. It has a lot of improvements including the chassis, a brand new four-wheel drive system, there's nothing common with what you know today," he said.
"Yes. It's a dual-clutch eight-speed, the A35 is a seven-speed, the 45 will have an eight-speed."
"The chassis compared to today... it's unbelievable. We have various suspension in the car and it's an improvement in every perspective. There's more comfort, more rigidity in every way, so we put a lot of effort into the body in white. There's lots of reinforcement and it fits perfectly," he added.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest, and click the images for the full gallery.