Mercedes-AMG A35: A true Golf R rival

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Mercedes-AMG has revealed its new A35 4Matic hatchback, which will sit below the range-topping A45 4Matic in the A-Class line-up. While the Sindelfingen-based firm's A250 derivatives have not fared that well when compared with the iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI, the all-wheel driven A35 has its sights set on something a bit higher: the Golf range's flagship R derivative.  

Mercedes-Benz will diversify its recently launched A-Class premium hatchback range with the addition of the AMG A35, which can be considered to be more hot-blooded than the A250 4Matic, but not as ballistic as the A45. The new Mercedes-AMG A35 is expected to make its public debut at the Paris Motor Show next month.

A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine will do service under the bonnet with a power output of 225 kW and 400 Nm of torque. All four wheels will be driven through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The A35's 0-to-100 kph time is claimed at 4.7 seconds.

The A35 wears a twin-blade radiator grille with large front air intakes, while the rear is highlighted by a large rear wing, dual exhaust system and a model-specific diffuser.

The interior will follow the design of the latest A-Class and will, therefore, feature the latest MBUX infotainment system with 2 digital screens, while sportier features such as sports seats and an AMG steering wheel will be optional, if not standard (depending on market). Three specific AMG screens have been added that display information like G-Force- and engine data. The A35 also has a Track Pace system that's the equivalent of a data logger for the track. It collates and processes 80 separate kinds of data that can be analysed to improve track performance. It also has a built-in lap-timer with sector times and a "relative to best" timing mode.

In terms of driving dynamics, the A35 is equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive, capable of making it up to 100% front-wheel-drive or a 50/50 split. Aside from the raucous power upgrade, the major focus on the A35 appears to be the beefed-up brakes. The front axle is fitted with new 4-piston Monoblock fixed callipers and 350-millimetre brake discs, the rear axle with 1-piston sliding callipers and 330-millimetre brake discs. The discs are internally ventilated and perforated to better dissipate heat and prevent brake fading, even with extreme use. The silver-painted brake callipers have black AMG lettering.

The "7.5" iteration of the Golf R, meanwhile, is perhaps not as shouty as the A35 in terms of its outer appearance, but it's a headlining performance hatchback nonetheless. In our September 2017 review, we concluded that Golf R "is probably the ultimate expression of the fast Golf formula, offering nearly all the practicality of a GTI, but with even more dynamic appeal, greater performance and a cabin that knocks most of the competition for a 6. (It) does everything better than expected and, most importantly, delivers greater driving engagement than what we've become used to from this type of car". Now that's a description for the A35 to live up to!

In terms of the numbers, the Golf R does not lag the A35 (at least in terms of claimed figures). Its 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbopetrol engine produces 213 kW and 380 N.m of torque and the all-wheel-drive Volkswagen is said to complete the 0-100 kph sprint in 4.6 seconds, which is marginally faster than the Mercedes-AMG...   

Meanwhile, the A35 4Matic will be shown in Paris next week (late September 2018), before going on sale in Europe in early 2019. We've learnt that South Africa will get its allocation of A35 units during the first quarter of next year. Interestingly, the A35 may entirely replace the A250 in our market when it arrives. Pricing is likely to start at around R850k, but it may fluctuate depending on exchange rates over the next few months. 

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