Mercedes A35 AMG
Now this is a bit of a peach. And we’re not just talking about the colour.
It’s interesting how cultural perceptions of any given object can wildly shift among different groups of people. Look at the humble peach, for example. This is a juicy, fuzzy little treat which originated in China around four-thousand years ago, and today it represents a whole bunch of diverse things. A botanist will tell you it’s part of the rose family; a chef may point out that you can use its stone to create a cheap version of marzipan; kids of the eighties know the name best as a Super Mario princess; for rock fans it calls to mind the sleeve of a late-nineties Terrorvision album. For most people today, however, a peach probably makes them think of a cheeky emoji signifying an element of bootyliciousness. And it’s here that we find a crossover between digital reality and, er, actual reality – because this peachhued Mercedes is pretty damned bootylicious too, is it not? It’s the combination of the low-slung stance and the AMG aero as much as the unexpected colour that creates the effect, and it’s undeniable that this unique A-Class makes a strong statement. This is not just about having a Kardashian keister, there are simmering swells of potency within that peachy skin.
This is all the handiwork of serial modder Niki Hayward, and she’s got a lot of form in the area of taking cool cars and making them cooler. In fact, she’s been at it from day one. “My first car was a 6N VW Polo,” she explains, “and I went on to own three of these, all with different modifications –
coilovers, air-ride, smoothed and tucked engine bay, split-rims, and paintwork that I did myself. I then moved on to a Mk2 Golf Ryder, which I lowered on coilovers. I enjoyed that for a while before switching to a Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione – an incredible machine, and this was my first taste of slightly newer and faster cars.”
Niki had certainly reached a turning point here, seamlessly transitioning from retro to modern and changing the rules of her own game in one fell swoop… and it was a chance dalliance with a Mercedes that set her on an entirely new path, ultimately ending up with the project before the lens today. “I had an A45 AMG, which was short-lived but really sparked my love for Mercs,” she says. “I soon went back to Mercedes-Benz and ordered myself a CLA45 AMG. Being a very small person though, it was a little too big for me so after five months I returned again. That’s when I saw the A35 AMG, and straight away I knew it was the one for me.”
This car is a really interesting model for Mercedes-Benz. Back when they launched the W176-generation A45 AMG in 2013, that was immediately a far more hedonistic and lunatic hot hatch than anything offered by other manufacturers – it served up a highly improbable 360bhp from a 2.0-litre engine, deployed via an AWD setup and with sticker prices nudging £50k. It was an absolute animal. But don’t go thinking that the smaller number on the bootlid of the new A35 AMG is any sort of compromise: with the new-for-2018 W177-generation A-Class, Mercedes-Benz added a separate hot hatch variant to the line-up. The A45 may be climbing up to a power figure beginning with a four, but the more accessible A35 (which, weirdly, has a different 2.0-litre turbo engine to its sibling) still throws up some pleasingly daft numbers: 306bhp, 295lb.ft, 0-62mph in 4.7-seconds… this is a very serious motor.
“I found this car at my local dealer in Maidstone, where it was an ex-demonstrator,” she says. “It was in pristine condition, and I just fell in love with it. I drove it away three months later – and now, seven months down the line, it’s transformed into something completely different.”
That’s right: Niki may have fallen head-over-heels for a magnificently engineered hyperhatch, but that weight of modding history counts for something. The first thing she did on collecting her ice-white A35 was to take it down to Andy at Identity Wraps for a full-on aesthetic transformation. Coral Peach is the result, a TeckWrap finish which really pops in the sunlight and offers a sort of shapeshifting veneer over the AMG’s slinky curves; a delicate pinky-peach with tones of gold, white, yellow and orange, it’s a different shade wherever you stand and it totally alters the profile.
Of course, Niki wasn’t done yet. No, there was a little altitude to deal with. “I took the car to Jake Stanford, who’s a local air suspension specialist in Kent,” she recalls. “He fitted a full custom Air Lift setup with 3P management – making this the first and only A35 in the UK to be running air-ride. It was actually surprisingly simple to install; considering there isn’t a bolt-on kit for the A35 yet, we were both expecting a lot of problems, but when it came to fitting it was an absolute dream.”
Slotted neatly under those newly earthbound arches we find a gleaming quartet of Rotiform OZR
“Slotted neatly under those newly earthbound arches we find a gleaming quartet of ” Rotiform OZR wheels
wheels (in a ‘square’ setup, naturally, because AWD), their glossy blackness artfully complementing the AMG aero gizmos, and the carbon mirrors which Niki sourced from Ultimate Customs UK.
But in spite of the show-winning finish, don’t mistake it for some primped trailer queen. “I use it as my daily driver to and from work, as well as up and down the country for shows,” Niki assures us. “The reactions to the car when it was first revealed were insane, my Instagram blew up within 24-hours and it was absolutely everywhere on social media platforms! The reactions I get when driving it are just as good, it’s a very eye-catching colour and hard to miss… on many occasions I’ve found people taking photos of it in car parks.”
It certainly is an attention-grabber, although the most important point is that it puts a smile on Niki’s face every day – it’s just such a fun car to drive. This peach of an A35 is the UK’s first on air, and we’re sure it won’t be the last… but first and foremost, it was bought for pure motoring pleasure. A juicy, fuzzy little treat, bursting with vitamin C and ready to reframe people’s cultural perceptions. ■
“This peach of an A35 is the UK’s first on air, and we’re sure it won’t be the last…”
The A35 is running 3P management