Mercedes was caught testing its next baby hatch in the wild and it looks good

Mercedes is on a mission to replace its models every six years or so. So, with the current generation A-Class turning five years old as of 2017, it was no surprise to us when we saw the next-gen prototype putting in some work somewhere in Europe. Alongside the redesigned hatchback, Mercedes-Benz is also testing a new version of the AMG A45. More importantly, it seems that the German company wants to introduce a new model into the lineup. It’s reportedly called the AMG A40 and will slot below the familiar AMG A45.

As of June 2017, the prototype is still wrapped in lots of camo and padding, but that isn’t to say that we can’t identify some of the changes we can expect when the model does shed its prototype skin. It’s rather obvious that the next-gen A-Class will bring some evolutionary changes, all of which will find their way on the performance-oriented versions. The biggest news here is this new A40 trim, which will most likely be sold as an answer to the Audi S3 and BMW M140i. Until we get some official information, let’s have a closer look at what we already know about this hot hatch.

Update 10/23/2017: It’s only been a few weeks since we last so the Mercedes-AMG A40 out testing on the roads, and white as rain, it was caught in public again. Not a lot has changed, but there is something noteworthy to mention, so check out the spy shot section below for details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG A40.

Spy Shots

October 23, 2017 – On the Long Road to Production

2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Exterior Spyshots
- image 740090
2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Exterior Spyshots
- image 740098

At this point, very little is changing on the Mercedes-AMG A40. When you combine that with the fact that we’re seeing it for the second time in less than a month, it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing the official production model soon. As of now, most of the padding that originally covered the prototype has been removed, leaving just the camo to distract our eyes. On the other hand, the slightly wider fenders leave us wondering if these fenders are, indeed, wider or if they are simply still padded down a bit. Then again the wheels are a bit wider to support the 400+ horsepower under the hood, so it’s not outlandish to think that they may very well be a bit wider than on the standard A-Class. It would certainly be refreshing, anyway.

With that in mind, this prototype is still sporting the same Panamerican grille, and still rocks out the same production headlights and hood. This time around, the headlights are on, so we can see the LED lights illuminated in both the front and the rear. The side skirts look to have gotten a little more aggressive up front while the rear end now gets official dual exhaust outlets. Speaking of which, did you notice something weird about those outlets? Since when does Mercedes-AMG use dual, circular outlets instead of a single rectangular unit? That’s quite interesting, don’t you think? We suspect that Mercedes will be debuting the new A40 AMG sometime in the near future with the Detroit Auto Show or Chicago Auto Show being potential candidates if Mercedes is thinking of bring it to the United States. Well, unless Mercedes decides to surprise us at the Tokyo Motor Show later this week. What do you all think? Fill us in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

October 4, 2017 - Droping some padding and getting a new face

2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Spyshots Exterior
- image 736303
2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Spyshots Exterior
- image 736302

This time around, the A40 hasn’t exactly shed any camo, but it has shed a lot of padding. The most noticeable change to us is that the hood is now a production hood, while the headlights also follow suit. Instead of those annoying projection-like units on the last mule, we’ve got the official LED units with the top-positioned LED strip. The lights are sleeker, sit a little higher in the body, and are slanted downward toward the nose to provide extra character. With that in mind, the other major factor here is that we’re getting a look at a completely different fascia and a different grille. Now, it’s not likely that the A40 will end up with a grille that looks anything like what you see here, as it will likely feature AMG’s current grille design, but there could be something more in the looks. It is sporting a big, fat Mercedes emblem that was cleverly wrapped tight enough so you could see its camel toe peeking through.

The most noticeable change to us is that the hood is now a production hood, while the headlights also follow suit

As you can see, the lower fascia isn’t exactly production ready as of yet, but it is on its way and clearly under development. The passenger side is rocking out a number of drilled holes while the passenger side is rocking just a few in place of the traditional corner intakes. To put it simply, Mercedes is trying to figure out just how fake those corner intakes need to be for the best aerodynamics, performance, and efficiency. Oddly, the front in now features a smaller, or shorter, air dam that features curved edges without any of the fancy stuff on the sides. A small louver crosses the air dam at the tip, which could indicate a strange front-end styling here or just a cheap and easy way for Mercedes to mount that front plate for testing purpose. Only time will tell for that one.

To the sides, nothing has really changed thus far, but we can now see that the A40 will have smaller side mirrors that is predecessor and the mule we saw a few months ago. This time around our photographers didn’t get as good of a shot of the rear, however, we can see that some of the camo has been removed from the taillights, At this point, it’s hard to tell if these are production units or not, but given the fit an finish I would guess that the production model will at least sport the same style of lights, most likely with a larger number of LEDs present.

What do you guys think so far? Let us know in the comments section below.

October 6, 2016 - First testing session

2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Spyshots Exterior
- image 719231
2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Spyshots Exterior
- image 719233

Exterior

Like similar Merc that slot between the regular models and the full-blown AMGs, the A35 is heavily based on the A-Class and infused with some AMG-specific features. The radiator grille with the fine mesh and the twin louvers on each side of the Mercedes start is the first that catches the eye. Down below, we can see an AMG Line bumper. It’s very similar to the standard unit, but features a bigger splitter, flics on the air intakes, and small winglets on the sides. It also has silver chrome trim. Although it looks cool, this bumper isn’t exclusive to the AMG A35, as it can be ordered on the regular A-Class as well.

Moving onto the sides, only two features set the A35 apart compared to the standard hatchback. First up, it rides on a new set of 18-inch alloys wheels in twin-spoke design. Second, the side skirts are taken from the AMG Line package. The AMG A35 also sits a tad closer to the ground, but it’s not very noticeable at first glance.

It’s the rear end that stands out as notably different thanks to a new roof spoiler and diffuser insert. Finished in black, the spoiler is pretty big and makes the A35 look like a proper rally car. The bumper features a pair of flics on each side vent, while the diffuser-like insert extends the bumper closer to the ground. The four-slat element is flanked by round tail pipes integrated into the black trim.

Overall, the AMG A35 is somewhat mundane when seen from up front and from the sides, but it’s decidedly aggressive from the back. Needless to say, it’s different enough to stand out when compared to the regular A-Class.

Interior

Just like exterior, the interior is a slightly beefed-up version of the regular A-Class. This is good news though, as the German hatchback has one of best looking interiors in this class and its technology package trumps every competitor out there.

The cabin borrows heavily from the bigger Mercedes-Benz models, featuring the same wing-shaped, multi-tier dashboard, high-tech-looking center stack, and the turbine air vents. It also features Merc’s latest 10.25-inch displays placed next to each other, which makes it seem like the car has one long screen stretching from behind the steering wheel to the passenger-side dash.

So what sets the A35 apart? First up, the seats come wrapped in Artico leather and Dinamica microfiber as standard. The covers are black, but the red stitching adds a big of color. You can also have the seats in black and Digital Grey for a two-tone look. Red piping on the microfiber inserts and red A/C rings complete the look.

The standard steering wheel was replaced with the latest AMG unit. It has a flattened bottom, perforated leather on the grip area, and red contrast stitching. It also includes built-in touch control buttons that can be used to intuitively select the displays of the instrument cluster and the multimedia system by means of horizontal and vertical swiping, just like on a smartphone.

Optionally, the steering wheel can be equipped with a round controller with an integrated display beneath the right-hand steering-wheel spoke, plus two vertically positioned color display buttons with switches beneath the left-hand steering-wheel spoke. You can use these to activate and change the AMG drive programs.

There’s also an AMG-specific center console. Not only it has a piano lacquer finish, it also features additional buttons that control ESP, the manual transmission mode, and the Adaptive Damping System. If you order the optional leather package, the console will get a silver chrome surround.

The displays also have bespoke start-up screen and apps. You pick between three AMG display styles for the instrument cluster. The Supersport mode is particularly striking thanks to its central, round rev counter and information presented in the form of bars to the left and right of the "clock." Using the AMG menu, you can call up various special displays such as Warm-up, Set-up, G-Force and Engine Data.

Finally, the AMG A35 can be ordered with the AMG Track Pace and telemetry data. Developed along side the new and fancy MBUX infotainment system, the AMG Track Pace is a virtual race engineer that keeps you posted on track performance. It records more than 80 performance-related data while driving on a race track and displays lap and sector times. It also keeps track of reference times so you can improve your benchmarks.

In addition, it uses GPS and other sensors to detect when you leave a rae track or shorten your lap. Well-known track like the Nurburgring or Spa Francorchamps are already included in the software, but you can record your own circuts. Maps can be updated online and displays both 2D or 3D graphics.

Drivetrain

2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG Drivetrain
- image 492587

Note: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG drivetrain pictured here.

Expect the AMG A40 to arrive with at least 300 horsepower, but no more than 320 horses.

We’re expecting the A-Class to debut with some updated engines, while other engines will be replaced altogether. Considering the A-Class will use an updated version of Mercedes’ MFA platform -– dubbed MFA2 -– Merc will have the chance to offer more drivetrains than ever before across the entire range. The platform is also lighter, and obviously longer, so it has that going for it as well.

The current A45 uses a 2.0-liter that delivers some 381 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough to push the A45 to 62 mph in a matter of 4.2 seconds on the way to an electronically limited 155 mph. With output of the new AMG A45 likely to increase to a bit over 400 horsepower and maybe 380 pound-feet of torque, the AMG A40 will bridge the gap between the range-topping model and the A250 trim. All told, expect it to arrive with at least 300 horsepower, but no more than 320 horses.

Ultimately, the A40 should be quicker than any other A-Class but slower than the A45. Look for 4.5-second sprints from 0 to 62 mph and the same top speed limited at 155 mph As is the case with the current A45, shifting duties should be handled by an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT seven-speed sports transmission.

Pricing

2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Spyshots Exterior
- image 719223

As of June 2017, U.K. pricing for the A-Class starts from £20,715 (around $26,700), while the range topping 250 AMG retails from £30,225 to £36,200 (about $38,970 to $46,680), depending on specs. The AMG A45, on the other hand, starts from £41,875 (around $54,000). It’s safe to assume that the A40 will split the difference between the 250 AMG and A45, meaning it should start from around £36,000 (some $46,420). Unfortunately, unless Mercedes-Benz suddenly decides to bring the A-Class range to the U.S., the AMG A40 won’t be available on this side of the pond.

Competition

BMW M140i

2017 BMW M140i
- image 705769
2017 BMW M140i
- image 719218

Unfortunately, BMW has yet to produce a successor for the BMW M1, so the closest we can get to it is its newest little hatch, the BMW M140i. While it’s not a full-fledged M car, it replaces the M135i and comes with a little extra juice on tap. Unlike the Mercedes-AMG A40, the M140i uses a 3.0-liter six-cylinder. It delivers 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, which is an increase of 10 horsepower over the M135i and 46-horsepower less that the current Mercedes-AMG A45. The M140i can hit 62 mph in about 4.6 seconds when equipped with an eight-speed automatic or 4.8 seconds with the standard, six-speed manual. When equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive, the M140i hits the same benchmark in just 4.4 seconds. Pricing for the M140i starts from £32,650 (around $42,070) for the three-door version and from £33,180 (around $42,750) for the five-door version. Just like the A-Class, the BMW 1 Series isn’t available in the United States.

Read our full review on the BMW M140i.

Audi S3

2017 Audi S3 Wallpaper quality
- image 671902
2017 Audi S3
- image 671900

The Audi S3 is yet another reason why Mercedes needs an AMG A40. Slotted between the A3 2.0 TFSI and the bonkers RS3, the S3 uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that cranks out 310 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Fitted with an S-Tronic transmission, the German hatch needs 4.6 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. Styling-wise, it has a sportier exterior and fancied-up interior compared to the regular A3, but it’s not as menacing to look at as the RS3. Pricing starts from £33,505 (around $43,170) for the two-door S3 and from £34,125 (about $43,970) for the five-door S3 Sportback version.

Read our full review on the Audi S3.

Conclusion

2018 Mercedes-AMG A40 Spyshots Exterior
- image 719233

Mercedes isn’t playing around with that hand-built 2.0-liter engine. We’re talking about a small-ish four-cylinder that’s delivering a lot of power. It would be nice if the new A40 came with a little extra compared to its rivals, but I really don’t see this model sporting more oomph than the BMW M140i. The hot-hatch market is pretty strong these days, and in theory, a model like the AMG A40 could also be competing with cars like the Focus RS and the Civic Type-R under the right circumstances. Sure, those cars aren’t German, and some don’t exactly approach 400 horses like the AMG A45 and the RS3 Sportback, but they are big hitters in the hatch market. Now, if only we could convince Mercedes to bring the A40 to the U.S., I’d be a happy camper.

  • Leave it
    • * Probably not U.S. bound
    • * It is a little pricey

References

Mercedes A-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
- image 720850

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

2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG High Resolution Exterior
- image 492695

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

Update History

Update 10/4/2017: We’re finally getting a second look at the upcoming Mercedes-AMG A40 and this time around there are some serious changes taking place that brings the little hatch much closer to its goal of being production ready in 2018. Check out our special update section below to see what the changes are and learn more about them.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: