Dy­namic new A-Class gets a wel­come dose of dy­na­mite

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL LAUNCH

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Michael Tay­lor

The A-Class is not even on sale yet in most coun­tries and al­ready AMG has thrown it into the hot-hatch bat­tle with its new A35 4Matic.

Promis­ing sub five-sec­ond sprint times to 100km/h and a 250km/h top speed, the all­wheel drive hatch will be a fast small car in its own right as well as set­ting the stage for an A45 re­place­ment in 2020.

AMG has re­vised the AClass’s en­tire sus­pen­sion pack­age and, in some places, its chas­sis, in an ef­fort to de­liver on its tar­get to make it han­dle at least as well as the range-top­ping A45. Based around the front-drive ar­chi­tec­ture of the new A-Class, the A35 will run a five-seat lay­out to go with its su­perb dual-dig­i­tal screen for the in­stru­ment clus­ter and in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

With 225kW of power between 5,800 and 6,100rpm, the new 2.0l four-cylin­der, tur­bocharged engine will throw the hatch to 100km/h in 4.7 sec­onds in stan­dard trim, which hints at low fours for the even­tual A45 suc­ces­sor.

“With the in­tro­duc­tion of the A45 in 2012, we pre­sented a real bench­mark in the com­pact seg­ment and the de­mand for our com­pact mod­els has de­vel­oped very dy­nam­i­cally in re­cent years,” Mercedes-AMG CEO To­bias Mo­ers said.

“This suc­cess has en­cour­aged us to fur­ther ex­pand our port­fo­lio and place it on a broader foot­ing. With the new A35, we are ful­fill­ing our brand prom­ise of driv­ing per­for­mance in ev­ery de­tail and of­fer­ing thrilling lat­eral dy­nam­ics at the level of to­day’s A45.”

Rather than us­ing the ex­pen­sive, sand-cast 2.0l engine in the A45, the A35 in­stead uses a de­vel­op­ment of the M260 pow­er­plant from the A250 hatch. It uses a far smaller tur­bocharger than the enor­mous (and laggy) unit on the A45, yet still de­liv­ers 400Nm of torque at 3,000rpm. The A35 of­fi­cially claims a fuel-econ­omy fig­ure of 7.3l/100km, for a CO2 emis­sions level of 167g/km.

With twin-scroll tur­bocharg­ing, vari­able valve con­trol, di­rect fuel in­jec­tion and mul­ti­spark ig­ni­tion, the engine also uses Benz’s Con­ic­shape cylin­der hon­ing sys­tem, which makes it slightly nar­rower at the top than at the bot­tom.

It all mates to AMG’s sev­en­speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion, with unique gear ra­tios and clutches, while it has a race-start func­tion and steer­ing wheel­mounted gearshift pad­dles.

AMG thinks the car is fast enough to work its Track Pace and teleme­try data into the touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem as an op­tion, and it also gains new but­tons for the ESP sys­tem, the trans­mis­sion mode and adap­tive damp­ing sys­tem.

The all-wheel drive sys­tem de­faults to front-wheel drive, but can range up to a 50:50 split between the front and rear axles. The man­age­ment of the elec­tro-me­chan­i­cally op­er­ated all-wheel drive keeps it in its Com­fort torque-split mode as long as the driver keeps the ESP on. When the driver pushes ESP Sport or ESP Off, it switches the drive-split man­age­ment to a sportier mode for added grip and re­sponse.

That com­bines with the five driv­ing modes, which now in­clude a Slip­pery road func­tion in ad­di­tion to the Com­fort, Sport, Sport+ and In­di­vid­ual modes, along with a three-step adap­tive damp­ing setup.

It takes on board the AMG Dy­nam­ics lessons from big­ger AMGs, which gen­tly brake the in­side wheel in corner­ing to help the car stay on line with more pre­ci­sion, ac­cord­ing to AMG.

AMG was di­alled into the AClass de­vel­op­ment from the first sketches, so it was able to or­der up its own tai­lor-strength­ened front end for the car, with a “shear panel” of alu­minium plate and two other di­ag­o­nal braces bolted be­neath the engine and the floor to give it ad­di­tional tor­sional rigid­ity.

There’s a MacPher­son strut front sus­pen­sion sys­tem, with a new alu­minium wish­bone and a ra­di­ally bolted brake caliper all de­signed to lower un­sprung mass. The rear end is con­trolled by a four-link sus­pen­sion setup.

Its brakes bor­row even more from the A45, in­clud­ing its 350mm front and 330mm rear disc di­men­sions, and there is a pair of four-pis­ton monobloc calipers for the front end and a sin­gle slid­ing caliper at the rear.

The A35 4Matic is headed for SA in the third quar­ter of 2019.

The car goes from zero to 100km/h in just 4.7 sec­onds.

Boy-racer heaven: all-wheel drive, 225kW and a large rear wing.

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