It was the hottest hatch ever made with the most powerful 2.0-litre engine in production. That was in 2013. Five years on here’s its son, if not its heir. For the true successor to the mega Mercedes-AMG A45 we will have to wait a while yet…
Meantime this new AMG A35 will have to do. As the new “warm” hatch in Mercedes’ latest A-class range it gets 302bhp for 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds – so it’s pretty warm, warm enough on the figures to keep the Audi S3 and BMW M140i honest.
It is a variant of the latest A-class, which itself has had a very warm reception and, says Mercedes, has been developed alongside the yet-to-arrive A45, so has “AMG DNA in every detail”. It might not be the real hero but it’s still far more than a pumped-up AMG Line model.
The A35’s performance restraint is matched by a more grown-up, less bling approach to hot hatchery than was initially shown when Mercedes first entered the market in 2013. Those early optioned-up A45s had every go-faster accessory known to man plastered on them.
The A35 takes a more subtle approach, even allowing for the launch car’s vibrant yellow body colour. Any new A-class gets a simpler, smoother shape than the old one and the performance add-ons – chiefly those winglets around the front end and a very purposeful looking roof spoiler – do just enough but no more to lift the mien, in our book anyway. And the cabin looks fantastic.
It’s a five-door as before, four-wheel-drive of course and with a twin-scroll turbo version of the familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The car is larger than the old A-class, with new suspension and a whole world of new tech inside including the “Hey Mercedes” user-experience and digital widescreen dashboard. The new A’s suspension revisions promise to be welcome for those who found the old A45 too harsh riding.
Under the skin the A35 gets body bracing for more torsional stiffness, an electro-mechanical system to apportion torque front-to-rear (Mercedes says it responds faster than a hydraulic clutch) and a host of different drive modes, from comfort to sport+, and variables (including ESP off) that can be combined into an individual setting. Some settings open a flap in the exhaust for plenty of characteristic AMG pops on the overrun. Adaptive damping is optional.
Standard is a Race Start launch control system for brisk getaways, but if you want to know how brisk you will have to pay extra for the optional AMG Track Pace data logger. This can record your 0-62mph and quarter-mile runs, as well as showing lap and sector times for track driving. It can also display on the dashboard screen in augmented reality the correct lines to take for any of a number of motor circuits stored in the multimedia system.
“With the new A35 we are offering thrilling lateral dynamics at the level of today’s A45,” says Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG. All that sounds great, but it does make you wonder just how much greater the new A45 with another hundred or so horsepower will be be when they get round to launching that…
Meanwhile the AMG A35 gets its moment in the motor show spotlight at next month’s Paris exposition and will be in UK showrooms from early in 2019. No prices yet but we’d hope for a tag a good few thousand less than the outgoing A45’s £42,000 – when new it was a car hailed not just as the world’s fastest hot hatch but also the most expensive.