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It’s agile, fast, and a lot of fun: Our new compact sports car will celebrate its world premiere at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC (fuel consumption combined 7,4-7,3 l/100 km; CO2-emission combined 169-167 g/km) — our new model for this segment — isn’t just any sports car.
When it comes to driving dynamics in particular, the vehicle is really something special. As the project manager for the model, I can look back with my team on an incredibly exciting development phase, one that also repeatedly presented us with challenges, of course. Ultimately, cooperation with our development colleagues at Daimler led to the creation of a compact-class sports car that we can all be proud of.
The Mercedes-AMG A 35 as a logical expansion of the portfolio
It was time for the predecessor model — the Mercedes-AMG A 45 — to be given a “little brother.” The most powerful production A-Class — the A 250 Sport — and the AMG A 45 were quite far apart from each other in terms of engine output and handling — and price as well. The introduction of the A 35 offers much greater potential, as we’ve built an emotional and highly dynamic vehicle for our customers, one that offers a huge amount of driving enjoyment at a very attractive price.
Pure driving enjoyment in the A 35
Packing so much dynamic handling into a compact car was no easy feat for my team. Instead of relying on series components, we developed completely new front and rear axle geometries for the A 35. Whether it’s the steering knuckle, hub carrier or the transverse links — all components were tailored to the A 35 from the very beginning. In order to mount the front axle in a more stable and direct manner, we made the front end of the vehicle more rigid. To this end, we used extra supports to connect the front axle carrier with the main floor and replaced the plastic underfloor paneling normally used with a stiff aluminum shear panel. This gives the A 35 excellent transverse dynamics and ensures outstanding cornering.
We also “AMG-ized” the all-wheel drive system. As a result, the rear axle enables the new model to emerge from curves more powerfully and the vehicle’s steering is free from drive system influences. Because we knew from the beginning that we would never achieve such a high degree of neutrality and dynamic handling with a front-wheel drive system, there was never any question that we would use an all-wheel drive system. AMG is all about driving performance — and the A 35 proves this once again. In the end, we produced an automobile which in my opinion is actually superior to its predecessor, the A 45, in terms of handling — and the A 45 set the bar for that pretty high to begin with.
Something for everyone
Even with all the sportiness the vehicle has to offer, we never forgot while we were developing the A 35 that many customers would view the car as their primary means of transport. What I mean is that one of the most important specifications was to be able to offer our customers the broadest possible range of both comfort and sportiness. This means that the A 35 can also be driven in a very comfortable and relaxed way, around corners as well.
To this end, we offer customers a selection of drive programs that alternate the A 35’s performance and handling in line with the driver’s mood and personal tastes, as well as the traffic situation. This also applies to the vehicle’s sound, which can be made sporty or more moderate by regulating the exhaust flap via the driving mode program. In other words, I can dynamically satisfy my appetite for cornering with all my senses — but the push of a button is all it takes to transform the car into a wonderful everyday vehicle that’s also perfect for long trips.
|Engine||2.0-liter R4 with exhaust gas turbocharger|
|Max. output||225 kW (306 hp) at 5,800–6,100 rpm|
|Max. torque||400 Nm at 3,000–4,000 rpm|
|Drive system||AMG Performance 4MATIC fully variable all-wheel drive|
|Transmission||AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7G dual clutch transmission|
7.4-7.3 l/100 km*
|CO2emissions (combined)||169-167 g/km *|
|Top speed||250 km/h**|
* The figures presented (preliminary data) were calculated on the basis of stipulated measuring procedures. Emission figures are NEDC CO2 values within the meaning of Art. 2 No. 1 Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these values.
** Electronically limited
Sound — always important, always a challenge
An emotional engine sound is part of our DNA at AMG, as just about all automobile enthusiasts know. What’s definitely less well known, however, is the fact that we as developers repeatedly face major challenges when it comes to producing such sound. Ensuring an emotional sound background over and over again is not easy by any means, and producing the sound AMG is famous for is a never-ending and continuously growing challenge.
With the A 35, we have once again succeeded in creating an intensive and sporty sound experience. The powerful sound produced in the “Sport +” drive program in particular underscores the dynamic nature of the vehicle, while the “Comfort” mode offers a more moderate soundscape.
Spectacular 306 hp — almost a little low for an AMG
The A 35 is powered by a four-cylinder turbo engine with 2.0 liters displacement. This engine accelerates the compact sports car from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds It goes without saying that we incorporated our experience with the A 45 predecessor model into the development of the A 35’s powertrain — after all, the A 45 engine was named Engine Of The Year multiple times.
Compared to the 381 hp produced by the A 45, the 306 hp generated by the engine in the A 35 actually isn’t all that impressive to me. Instead, the big challenge for me was to make the delivery of this output as spectacular and well dosed as possible, but also as easily controlled as possible when the vehicle is used for everyday driving. I’m very proud to say that our team has once again definitely set a benchmark with the A 35. The car is incredibly fun to drive.
Part of the new A-Class concept from the beginning
As AMG engineers, we’re basically incorporated into the development process for Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the beginning. We start cooperating with our colleagues at Daimler while preparations are still being made for the final product decision, and this close contact continues without interruption until the product is finished. This was the case with the A 35 as well, of course.
Live and let live
We and our Mercedes-Benz colleagues always jointly make the important decisions that impact Mercedes and AMG. Occasionally this can be a challenge because some of the attributes we like to incorporate into our AMG models conflict with certain goals at Mercedes Benz. However, together with the base project organization in Sindelfingen, we’re always able to come up with an optimal solution for both the AMG and the Mercedes models. For this reason, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to our colleagues at Mercedes Benz for our great collaboration, which is sometimes contentious but always constructive.
Someone recently asked me if it’s more difficult to develop a purely AMG sports car like the GT than it is to develop a compact sports car based on a Mercedes model. Well, when I develop a purely AMG model, the biggest challenge comes at the beginning, when I need to sketch out a basic concept. Once that’s done, however, I can basically go where I want with the car, so to speak.
When I a develop a vehicle like the A 35 or the A 45, I don’t start from scratch. The issue in terms of complexity or difficulty is having to constantly coordinate with Mercedes Benz. Later on in the development process, the technical details necessitate the same type of precise coordination as is the case with the sports car. In this sense, the difficulty or complexity is simply different, but definitely not any lower in my opinion.
The A 35 as a precursor to the new A 45
Driving dynamics and emotions are the most important things about a car for me. When I look at the A 35 today, I just have to grin because every time I see it, I think: “I’ll be driving that myself soon.” This in fact was what really motivated me during the development process. After all, I’m not just the project manager; I’m also part of the target group. In other words, I was able to develop a car that I actually also developed for myself. What could be better than that?
The same applies to the new A 45 that we’re now planning. I can definitely say right now that this vehicle will take things yet another step further in every way. Here as well, our goal is to once again set a new standard in the compact segment — and we’re well on our way to achieving that goal. I would prefer not to go into more detail at this point, however. Let’s keep things exciting.
World premiere and market launch
The new Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC will celebrate its world premiere at the Paris Auto Show on October 2, 2018. It will then become available for ordering later in October 2018. The market launch in Western Europe is scheduled for January 2019.