New 306hp hot hatchback is the first in an extended range of more affordable entry-level AMG models.
After a few teasers, the new Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic has been unveiled before its public debut at the 2018 Paris motor show. Positioned between the A 250 and upcoming second-gen A 45 4Matic, the new hot hatch will rival the likes of the BMW M140i and Audi S3 as well as the Volkswagen Golf R. The new A 35 is based on the fourth-gen A-class hatchback, while the A-class hatch sold in India is the previous generation model.
Under the bonnet of the A 35 4Matic is a revised version of Mercedes-Benz’s M260 engine that powers the A 250. It is described by AMG as a new development, although the new four-cylinder unit shares its 83.0mm bore and 92.0mm stroke measurements and design of its die-cast aluminium crankcase with the M133 engine of the A 45 4Matic.
Key attributes of the AMG upgraded motor include uniquely-tuned twin-scroll turbochargers with reduced back pressure, a reprogrammed Camtronic variable valve control, special liners that contribute to conically shaped cylinders and a bespoke exhaust system with an automatically controlled flap that modulates the exhaust note depending on the driving mode.
All of this has helped to produce 306hp at 5,800rpm and 400Nm of peak torque between 3000rpm and 4000rpm. These figures are about 75hp and 75Nm less than the A 45’s more highly strung M133 engine.
In comparison, the rear-wheel drive M140i’s turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine delivers 340hp and 500Nm while the four-wheel drive Audi S3’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder offers up 310hp and 380Nm.
Offering both manual and automatic modes, the in-house produced 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox also includes a Race Start function and steering wheel mounted paddles as standard. The heavily revised version of the 4Matic four-wheel drive system used by the first-generation A 45 boasts variable distribution of drive, from front-wheel drive only to a 50:50 apportioning to the front and rear axles, via an electro-mechanically operated multi-plate clutch integrated into the rear axle assembly.
Five different driving modes are on offer via an AMG Dynamic Select controller, including Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. The Slippery mode, a new development that is also planned to appear on the new A 45, is programmed for wet road conditions, with reduced power and torque and earlier upshifts in automatic mode.
Also new is a so-called “gliding” function, which allows the driver to choose between “reduced and “moderate” settings for differing engine braking characteristics while coasting on a trailing throttle within the Individual driving mode.
With the Sport+ mode and Race Start function engaged, the A 35 4Matic is claimed to accelerate from 0-100kph in 4.7sec and reach a top speed limited to 250kph. This gives the A 35 4Matic an edge over the M140i and S3, which are claimed to accelerate to 100kph in 4.8sec and 5.3sec, respectively.
To deal with the added performance, Mercedes-AMG has stiffened the bodyshell of the A-class hatchback upon which it is based with the addition of a so-called “shear panel” underneath the engine. The aluminium structure is bolted to the existing steel body shell and, in combination with two additional diagonal braces, is claimed to provide added torsional stiffness to the front end.
The stiffened body structure supports a MacPherson strut front suspension. It uses a newly developed aluminium carrier and radially bolted steering knuckle that AMG claims reduces the unsprung masses and provides more sensitive response to the system used by the A 45 4Matic. The rear suspension is based around the four-link system used by upper range A-class models, with three transverse arms and the trailing arm, the wheel carrier and bearings shared with those of the A 45.
Passive dampers are standard, though buyers can specify the new entry-level AMG model with an adaptive damping system that provides three different levels of stiffness. The electro-mechanical steering uses variable assistance and a more rigid mounting than the system used by other new A-class models. The brakes use four-piston monoblock callipers and 350mm vented and perforated discs up front and single piston callipers and 330mm discs at the rear.
The A 35 4Matic builds on the sharpened appearance of the fourth-generation A-class with a unique grille, more heavily structured front bumper, standard 18-inch alloy wheels, wider sills, bold tailgate-mounted spoiler and a new rear bumper featuring a prominent diffuser element framed by blacked-out round exhaust pipes.
Inside, the standard A-class interior has been tweaked with unique upholstery for the seats, an AMG steering wheel with touch-pad controls and AMG specific graphics for the digital instruments, including a Supersport mode with a large central round rev counter.
Other new features include AMG Track Pace as part of the MBUX infotainment system. It permanently records data during track driving, enabling the driver to analyse a range of information including acceleration, braking and lap times.
After debuting on the fourth-gen A-class hatchback, the new 35 badge is expected to be used on new models such as the CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA as well as the newly-unveiled A-class sedan and upcoming GLB SUV, in a move that will provide a new six-model strong entry-level range for Mercedes-Benz’s performance sub-brand.
While there is no word on Mercedes-AMG bringing the A 35 to the Indian market, Mercedes is currently evaluating the A-class sedan for an India launch, rather than bring the next-gen CLA Coupe.