The hatchback is undoubtedly a cornerstone of the urban car market, and there are two coming soon, at either end of the scale.
Toyota’s new compact hatchback, built in India, is called the Starlet, and is the result of a partnership between Toyota and Suzuki.
The car is closely based on the Suzuki Baleno and will be powered by the car maker’s 1.4-litre normally aspirated 68kW petrol engine. What is likely is that the Starlet will replace the Etios, given that production in India has been stopped, and probably be slightly more expensive.
But it looks that this end of the market is getting crowded for Toyota, what with the Starlet just a little bigger than the Etios, and only slightly smaller than the Yaris. The Starlet will go on the market from mid-September.
On the other end of the hatchback market, Mercedes-AMG’s A45 S 4matic Hatchback has brought the compact super-sportscar genre onto a new level that looks hard to beat.
The super engineers at AMG have squeezed 310kW and 500Nm out of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making it the most powerful in the world.
This apparently gives it a zero to 100km/h acceleration of 3.9 seconds. It also makes it the hottest hatch in production, well until Audi puts some more teeth into the RS3, and even then, who knows?
Interestingly, South Africans are the third largest buyers of AMG in the world, and we’re going to smaak this one.
Power is distributed via an eight-speed lightning fast dual clutch gearbox to a super sophisticated four-wheel drive system that takes information from just about everywhere through sensors and distributes power accordingly between the axles.
And there is a drift mode that neatly limits torque to the front axle so long as you are giving it maximum sideways attack with steering and throttle.
The body has been majorly reinforced with cross braces, diagonal bars and a shearing plate under the engine.
Of course, this AMG comes in at the top end of the price bracket, but by the figures and the sheer sophistication of the car, it’s bound to be a four-wheel robot rocket. Oh, and the set up is also available in the CLA shape, for those into the saloon.