Mercedes A35 AMG

Now this is a bit of a peach. And we’re not just talk­ing about the colour.

Fast Car - - CONTENTS - Words: Dan Be­vis Pho­tog­ra­phy: Matt Clif­ford

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.

SE­RIAL THRILLER

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.

IN­STA-SLAM

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

Very peachy

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