Performance car of the year 2022 Hatch Shootout: A 45 S, GR Yaris & GTI

This one’s all about rulebooks and who rewrote them. The Volkswagen Golf GTI was first to do that way back in the ‘70s. The epitome of the hot hatch, it’s still at it today. Is this latest generation 8 up to it. Then Mercedes AMG rewrote the hot hatch rulebook – this AMG A 45 S happens to be the fastest 2-litre and hatchback on earth. But wait – what on earth is this? Could a Toyota Yaris really be stealing a march on the best hatches on the planet?


All three certainly look the part. The A 45 S is aggressive, its new AMG grille, jet-wing apron, broader wings and flared arches snarling with intent. Big boss Akido Toyoda’s pet project is a WRC bred ultimate hot hatch. It’s also fantastic to look at, thanks to its broadened arches and angry face. The Golf certainly looks the part. Some love it, others don’t, but it does its best to project everything about its eight generations of GTI legend.

But those looks really are secondary. It’s all about what’s under the bonnet. The AMG’s 310 kW 500 Nm twin-scroll turbo 4 pot is spun 180 degrees. To turn its inlet to the front and breathe better. It turns AMG’s dual-clutch auto and 4-Matic all-wheel drive. The Toyota’s 198 kW 360 Nm turbo triple sixteen hundred comprises the definition of high performance turning a good old stick shift and all four wheels. The most powerful GTI yet is 180 kW 370 Nm turbo 2-litre driving the front wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch autobox.

The Merc’s Race Start is a peach. It launches A 45 S like the bullet out of a gun. It squashes your back into the racing seat and rockets to the horizon to deliver our hatchback record 3.8 second 0-100. Boasting a mighty 154 kW per kg power-to-weight ratio, get the launch right (it’s not easy) and GR Yaris rockets to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. The VW is easy to launch. But almost impossible to find the right program to race start. Get that right and you have among the quickest front wheel drive cars on the road in a stonking 5.7 seconds.


The Merc is very honest. Its iron fist has a very skimpy velvet glove on. Taut and stiff, the harder you steer, the better A45 responds. There’s hardly any lean and it feels just like a race car. And Drift Mode brings wild fun. Lightweight and rigid with aggressive suspension geometry and an ideal 59:41 weight distribution makes the Yaris incredibly well balanced. Add great, fade free brakes and exceptional lateral grip and the ability to four-wheel drift like Fangio.

It feels and sounds like a GTI and as noted, is the quickest yet. Alas, the GTI’s TC-off is almost impossible to find. Its hidden in the braking menu. Its adaptive dynamic chassis control sets it up just as you like it. But then it’s almost impossible to get rid of optional Travel Assist package, which meddles with the chassis to make the car feel awful. Travel Assist just isn’t a GTI thing. Such a pity

Stepping inside, the Merc’s dastardly ride and character is wonderfully offset by a really cool cockpit. It’s the ultimate man to machine interface, Starship Enterprise MBUX My Mercedes’ and all. The Toyota’s cockpit is… well… still a Yaris with a few fancy bits bolted in. Nothing fancy in there. But it’s surprisingly plush. Quiet too. GTI 8 has an all digitised cabin. You swipe it to do it in the VW, but it’s difficult to comprehend through layers of unnecessary cyber windows and tricky to use as it saps up way too much driving concentration. Too much, perhaps?


Yes, it’s expensive. But he Mercedes-AMG A 45 S is a huge fun, great looking and still practical ultra-performance hot hatch. And the Toyota? It’s a Yaris, for goodness sake! But it’s a very special Yaris. It’s reinvented the hot hatch for once and for all. This really is a once in a lifetime performance car. The GTI 8 is quick. But Its stymied by too many systems to bamboozle the driver. As if this is the last Golf GTI and VWs preparing us for a faceless electric future. Sad.

Which brings us down to the call. The Merc is brilliant. But hellish expensive, even if it’s a record breaker in so many ways. The Toyota is something completely different in the performance world. Unique, fast and devastatingly effective. It is dear, but not stupidly so. And the GTI? Well, it’s a very good car. But has its technology exorcised its mojo? All of which makes this one pretty easy. The Toyota goes into the Pcoty top three…

              Mercedes-AMG  Gazoo Toyota   Volkswagen
              A 45 S Yaris  1.6T GR4 Rally Golf GTI
Output:       310 kW 500 Nm 198 kW 360 Nm  180 kW 370 Nm
Engine:       2-litre turbo 1.6-litre turbo 2-litre turbo
              petrol I4     petrol I3      petrol I4
Drive:        8-speed       6-speed        7-speed
              DC auto AWD   manual AWD     DC auto FWD
0-100 km/h:   3.88 sec      4.57 sec       5.74 sec
0-160 km/h:   8.32 sec      10.82 sec      12.95 sec
400m time:    11.9 sec      12.7 sec       13.8 sec
400m speed:   192 km/h      172 km/h       166 km/h
80-120 km/h:  2.28 sec      3.15 sec       3.52 sec
120-160 km/h: 3.21 sec      4.65 sec       5.29 sec
VMax:         270 km/h      230 km/h       250 km/h
Fuel:         8.4 l/100 km  7.6 l/100 km   7.0 l/100 km
CO2:          192 g/km      172 g/km       159 g/km
Warranty:     2y unl.       3y 100K        3y 120K
Service:      5y 100K km    9 service 90K  5y 90K km
LIST PRICE:   R1.23M        R726K          R669K
RATED:        9             10             8
Performance car of the year 2022 Program
Pcoty ‘22 Introduction
Audi RS 6 Avant
BMW M5 Competition
Ford Ranger Raptor SE
Jaguar I-Pace
Mercedes-AMG A45 S
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Mini Cooper SE
Toyota GR Yaris
Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI      
Pcoty ‘22 Electric Shootout
Pcoty ‘22 Super Hatch Shootout
Pcoty ‘22 Super Saloon Shootout
Pcoty '22 Top Three
Pcoty ‘22 Winner
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