A quarter of a century ago, a sub-£40k AMG was the new C36 AMG, a car with 280hp, a four-speed auto and a combined mpg of 27. It was £38,250 new in 1994, which is the equivalent of £72k today. Now the 306hp, seven-speed dual-clutch, near-40-mpg A35 AMG has been announced at £35,580. Who says new cars are getting more expensive?
That figure puts the A35 within a whisker of its key rivals; a five-door Audi S3 Sportback S Tronic is priced at £35,805 and an M140i with five doors and an auto gearbox costs £35,790. An equivalent Golf R is £34,910, so all four are barely separable on price.
The A35 is available to order now, although, as is often the way with new models, the RRP is just the start. Options confirmed for the new car include the AMG Executive equipment line (£1,395, for a 10.25-inch media screen, heated front seats, a parking package, more leather and electric folding mirrors), the AMG premium equipment line (£2,395, adding the 10.25-inch instrument cluster, coloured ambient lighting and keyless entry) and the AMG Premium Plus equipment line (£3,895, building on those two with a Burmester stereo, electric memory seats, LED headlights and a panoramic roof). It looks very easy to get a long way beyond £35k, basically, because we've not even mentioned the Advanced Navigation package, the Driving Assistance Package, the Advanced Connectivity package or the AMG Style package yet. Or the AMG Aerodynamics package...
As mentioned, the car is available to order to now; deliveries are expected in the spring, and we should be driving one in the next few weeks. More to follow soon!
ORIGINAL STORY, AS REPORTED 03/10/2018:
Well this isn't fair. Just it wasn't all that long ago that we tried to ascertain which end of the AMG range best represented the brand, and now they've gone and moved the goalposts. The A45 no longer represents the entry point for the AMG range following the launch of the all-new A35.
Powered by a 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo engine, the A35 produces 306hp between 5,800-6,100rpm and 295lb ft from 3,000-4,000rpm. In combination with all-wheel drive (ranging from front-wheel drive only to a 50:50 split) and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, that's enough to get it from 0-62 in just 4.7 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. The current A45, by comparison, is half a second quicker to 62mph with a top speed (also limited) of 168mph.
'Race-start' launch control is standard on the A35, meaning even the entriest of entry-level buyers ought to be able to get near that time, an achievement which is described as "a highly emotional experience" - for the other people in the Cineworld car park, at least. Meanwhile there are five drive modes for normal use including Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and the new Slippery setting. This features reduced power and a flat torque curve with smoother gear changes and earlier upshifts, presumably to help those first-time AMGers keep everything in check.
An aluminium 'shear panel' beneath the engine and two additional diagonal braces up front increase torsional stiffness over the standard A-Class. MacPherson strut suspension, weight-reducing aluminium wishbones and special axle geometry at the front end all promote agile handling, while the four-link rear axle makes use of A45 components to ensure stability. Adaptive Damping is optional.
Stopping power comes courtesy of new - silver painted, AMG branded - four-piston monoblock calipers clamped onto internally ventilated 350mm brake discs at the front, and 330mm rotors at the back with single-piston sliding calipers. These sit within 18-inch light-alloy wheels.
Putting the aesthetics in AMG is a body kit comprised of a twin-louvred radiator grille, AMG Line front and rear aprons, a spoiler lip, front splitter and aggressive diffuser, and of course sporty trim for the active exhaust's tips. Inside, the look is completed by red contrast stitching and seat belts, a fully digital instrument cluster and the new generation of AMG steering wheel with Touch Control buttons. For those intending to get the most out of their car's ability, an AMG Track Pace data logger is optional.
Commenting on the latest addition to its range, Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers said: "With the introduction of the A45 in 2012, we presented a real benchmark in the compact segment. The demand for our compact models has developed very dynamically in recent years. 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."
Still no word on pricing, but it can't be far off with sales set to commence this month and UK deliveries expected to begin at the start of 2019. How much further down the ladder AMG can climb whilst still delivering a suitably emotive product remains uncertain - but we're sure plenty of people will be keen to find out.