The entry-level AMG is far from mundane

Mercedes is changing the formula for the performance end of its A-Class range, which will now feature two models: a hot A35, which was just revealed, and an even hotter A45 we don’t yet know very much about. But why wait for the A45 when this A35 is already a very enticing premium hot hatch with a unique look and strong performance?

The A35 has over 300 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque, and all-wheel drive to enable it to hurl itself from naught to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. Its top speed is electronically pegged at 155 mph, but if other similar cars with comparable power numbers are anything to go by, it should nudge 170 mph when unrestricted.

It also looks quite appealing, I think, with its aggressive bumpers, side skirts, and rear spoiler. Inside, it’s been spruced up with sports seats, yellow details, and a flat bottom steering wheel to leave you in no doubt that it is a performance-oriented car.

Not everything about it is perfect, though; here are ten must-know facts about it you should be aware of.

It’s front-wheel drive most of the time

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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Mercedes says the new A35 can send up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels when it’s needed, but that just means the vehicle is really front-wheel drive most of the time.

This is not inherently bad, but it just means it will behave more like something front-driven than an actual all-wheel drive car.

Rivals like the Ford Focus RS can send much more of the power to the rear wheels, thus allowing them to oversteer under power, instead of just plough wide. Obviously, a well sorted chassis (which is what most modern hot hatches have) would cure most of the understeer, but the Focus RS is definitely more of a showboating hoolingan’s car than the A35.

It packs serious stopping power

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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Stopping power is ensured by 350 mm disks up front and smaller 330 mm.

The front caliper has a four-piston configuration, but both front and rear calipers are finished in silver and bear a very noticeable AMG logo. For reference, the disks are exactly the same size as those of a Ford Focus RS and it too uses four-piston calipers on the front.

Its engine is based on a standard A-Class unit

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
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The A35 may be badged AMG, but its engine has its roots in the units that powers the A250 turbo gasoline version of the A-Class.

In the A250, it makes 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, but thanks to a new twin-scroll turbo setup, power is boosted past the 300 ponies mark and torque rises to 295 lb-ft.

It has variable steering ratio based on chosen drive mode

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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Variable steering racks aim to reduce wheel twirling around tight corners which is why the A35 has such a system.

It’s a speed-sensitive electro-mechanical setup that also changes its character depending on the selected driving mode.

Mercedes assures buyers that the system is very precise and that it supports a sporty driving style.

The exhaust has a flap to keep it quiet when you want it

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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We hope the A35 sounds as sporty and aggressive as it looks, but you will be able to tone down its exhaust via an actuated flap. Mercedes doesn’t go into too much detail on this in the press blurb, simply stating it varies from “balanced to powerful” based whichever driving mode is selected.

Digital gauge cluster gets “three AMG display styles”

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Interior
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The A-Class is available with two sizes of digital gauge cluster and infotainment displays, but the high-spec A35 will only be available with the larger screens.

For the screen directly facing the driver, this model will offer “three AMG display styles” including a “Supersport” mode whose focal point is the central rev counter with a 3D effect. The driver will also be able to access AMG-specific displays such as Warm-up, Set-up, G-Force and Engine Data.

It has a track data logger

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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To leave you as in no doubt Mercedes wants you to drive the A35 on a track, the manufacturer has fitted it with a complex in-built data logger that’s part of the new MBUX infotainment system which debuted on the A-Class. Aside from the usual lap and sector timer, it also apparently records some 80 different parameters about the car and also relays the information back to the driver in either green or red to show positive or negative differences lap-on-lap.

The ESP has two distinct settings, but doesn’t sound like you can turn it off

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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Stability programs for cars are in no way bad and you really should keep it on at all times, but when it comes to performance cars, there are instances when you’re better off without it. On a track, for instance, in wet or slippery conditions, it may intervene to aggressively and slow you down too much but in the A35 it switches from its “Basic” setting (active when in Slippery or Comfort drive modes) to “Advanced” which is specifically calibrated for spirited driving.

It only comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Interior
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Not that anybody is surprised by this decision, but the A35 cannot be had with a third pedal and stick shifter. Only the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available, but Mercedes promises it’s been set up for “spontaneous acceleration in all ranges,” and that it even integrates launch control (which Mercedes calls the Race Start function).

Changing gears manually is possible, using the paddles mounted behind the fancy new steering wheel.

This is now the “entry level AMG”

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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Mercedes doesn’t shy away from calling the A35 the “entry level AMG” making it quite clear there will be plenty of other models sitting above it. An even hotter versions of the A-Class, the A45, will debut next year, and there’s absolutely no reason why the automaker couldn’t also build an even more focused A45 S model - it’s what it does with pretty much every other AMG model it offers.

Further reading

10 Must Know Facts About the Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG A35.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Exterior
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Read our full review on the next generation 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the previous 2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

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