The Mercedes-AMG A 35 Sedan shows how big things can come in small packages.
Under the hood, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine provides over 300 horsepower.
The individual AMG-tuned drive modes are complimented by a special “RACE-START” feature.
Mercedes-Benz recently dropped one of their typically huge press releases on their (relatively) small A 35 performance sedan. And small though it may be, it is still very much a Mercedes. Given the performance, it’s still very much an AMG. It’s the three-pointed star version of an Audi S4 or BMW M3. And in a lot of ways, the latest Mercedes-AMG A 35 Sedan is the opposite of what you think of a Mercedes as being.
It’s small and powered by an even smaller engine, for starters.
Smiles & Burning Rubber
Usually, Mercs are these big Bahn cruisers powered by engines derived from tanks. The A 35, on the other hand, doesn’t take up that much space with its little 2.0-liter four cylinder power plant. Then you thumb though the performance stats and find out the little four-banger puts out 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. torque. Mercedes has squeezed the livin’ daylights out of this little guy with some good old German engineering.
For example, the engine’s crankcase is lightweight die-cast aluminum to reduce weight; and the housing of the twin-scroll turbocharger divides into two parallel ducts. This makes it possible to channel the exhaust gases separately on the turbine wheel in the interest of efficiency, so says Mercedes-Benz.
But the end result? Smiles and burning rubber!
Power & Performance Tech
Throttle response is said to be fantastic, since the twin-scroll turbocharger is optimized to reduce back pressure and improve efficiency. On top of that, the engine features CAMTRONIC (German VTEC), high-precision piezo injectors, multi-spark ignition, and intelligent thermal management. The engine is mated to an AMG-spec seven-speed with a standard RACE-START function. This allows maximum acceleration from a stand-still, which sounds like a lot of fun!
Downstream from there, you’ll find the AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system that, given the short wheelbase and abundance of power, must come as a Godsend. It can vary the power distribution from front-wheel drive only, to a 50:50 split front to rear. Interestingly, a multi-disc clutch pack is integrated in the rear axle, being electro-mechanically controlled for sharper driving dynamics and significantly faster response.
Of course, all this happens by more than just your right foot. There are five AMG Dynamic Select drive programs on tap: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Individual. They pretty much do what the name says, with the differences between Sport and Sport+ being how Sport+ gives you louder exhaust notes and deactivates the start/stop system. Sport+ also double-declutches during downshifts and uses partial cylinder cut-offs at full load.
Handling & Braking
Mercedes says “special axle geometry” provides more agile handling while aluminum components reduce unsprung mass. Working with the suspension is the AMG Dynamics system, which integrates the car’s handling control system with the ESP stability control. This applies a little bit of differential rear braking to enhance cornering and comes in two basic flavors: Basic and Advanced. AMG Ride Control takes care of the suspension itself with adaptive, adjustable damping and three different configurations, from comfort-focused to sporty. The fully-automatic system adapts the damping for each wheel according to the driving situation and road conditions within milliseconds.
The steering is a speed-sensitive, electro-mechanical setup with variable ratios. There are two “characteristic curves,” depending on which drive program is running.
Even though this is a little guy, it has brakes that could stop a freight truck. Up front you’ve got four-piston monoblock calipers and 350-millimeter brake discs; the rear has single piston sliding calipers and 330-millimeter brake discs. The discs are internally-ventilated, natch, and perforated, also natch, to dissipate heat and prevent fading. The silver-painted calipers even have black AMG lettering for a little bit of flash.
The interior of the Mercedes-AMG A 35 Sedan is awash in Star Trek levels of technology. Humorously, Mercedes calls its multimedia control system MBUX, and we will not let them live it down. Mitigating that name is the fact it works astonishingly well. MBUX shows you “emotionally appealing presentations” with maximum-resolution 3D graphics. The “Widescreen Cockpit” has two displays but under one shared glass.
Essentially MBUX turns all the usual dials and gauges and such into one, integrated, tablet-like display system. You can reconfigure and setup the MBUX system for any given driver. So dad’s version of the dash can have the Supersport mode with its central, round tachometer, for example.
Pricing & Availability
All this adds up to a zero to 60 time of less than five seconds (4.7 to be precise), and a top speed Mercedes prefers not to tell us at the moment. Same goes for exactly when this little guy will be in stores and how much it will cost. By all accounts, expect it in dealerships later this year as a 2020 model. Now, it’s not the big open highway cruiser you might choose; but for more urban environments, the new Mercedes-AMG A 35 Sedan will probably be a nemesis for all you Audi and BMW hot shoes out there.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.