Mercedes-Benz has handed the new A-Class sedan off to its AMG performance division for some unnecessary but welcome tuning, resulting in a clear rival to Audi’s S3 — for now its chief competitor.
With a wheelbase 3.8 inches longer than the S3 sedan, the A35 boasts 302 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque and works through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Power goes to a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system that can distribute torque anywhere from 100 percent to the front wheels to a 50/50 split with the rear axle.
Here are five more things you need to know about Stuttgart’s latest pocket-sized hot rod:
1. Little, But Fierce
Mercedes claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.7 seconds, just a tenth of a second slower than the S3 (288 hp and 280 pounds-feet of torque, also AWD). Mercedes gave no top speed yet, but don’t expect it to be more than 155 mph, the historical limit for German vehicles in the U.S. and really quite a lot more than you’ll ever need on public roads — or even on a racetrack, though the A35 does have a lot of track-focused tech available.
2. You Can Talk to It Like K.I.T.T.
Like the regular A220, the A35 will offer the Mercedes-Benz User Experience multimedia system with voice control. Just say, “Hey, Mercedes” plus a command or question, and the A35 will try to help you out. The optional interior assistant will allow drivers to turn on and off some multimedia functions and the reading lights by voice, too, though we doubt it will have a voice from William Daniels or Val Kilmer.
3. It’s Stiffer Than the A220
Additional body stiffness may improve the handling characteristics of the A35 versus the A220, but at what cost? The A220 had what Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays called a “controlled but firm” ride with 19-inch wheels and an AMG-tuned suspension, and he suggested shoppers test-drive different wheel and suspension configurations to find one comfortable enough. How much firmer can the ride get before it becomes too much? The good news: Mercedes will offer available adaptive shock absorbers on the A35.
4. Digital, Configurable Gauge Cluster
The A35 will feature a fully digital gauge cluster with three different modes. True to its sporting intent, the Supersport mode features a larger tachometer front and center, with additional driving information displayed via simulated three-dimensional bars left and right of the tach. Available displays include ones to warm up the car ahead of the track, set up the car for track driving and display things like G-forces and engine data.
5. You Can Add a Built-in “Track Engineer”
The AMG Track Pace system is optional. With it, drivers can track vehicle telemetry and lap times, all displayed through the multimedia screen. With MBUX’s augmented reality function, the “ideal” racing line can show up on either the multimedia screen or head-up display. Drivers can store their own local tracks in the system, but famous circuits like Germany’s Nurburgring and Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps are already part of the data.
More from Cars.com:
- 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Is the New Bargain Benz
- 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class: Still Small but Bigger on Tech, Safety
- Research the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
- More Mercedes-Benz A-Class News
- 2017 Audi S3: Our View
One thing you’d like to know that we don’t know is pricing. According to Mercedes, it will come at a later date. Given the S3 starts around $45,000, a similar starting price seems likely, but expect additional options to raise that figure that considerably. Could you buy something else that’s quicker for less, or spend the savings to make it quicker? Probably, but it won’t be a new Benz.
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