Fans of the defunct A45, AMG’s nuttiest hatchback, need not pine: Mercedes is planning a 400bhp follow-up. Meanwhile, welcome the A35, an AMG-lite A-class with the Golf R squarely in its sights.
Not many are going to feel short-changed: its 302bhp is competitive with the class and its all-wheel-drive system provides startlingly strong acceleration. Radically rethought suspension has many rubber parts removed plus a quicker steering ratio, and appropriately enormous brakes complete the picture.
It’s a curious car. It’s good, but it could and perhaps should have been better. Its most obvious issue is a ride quality sufficiently stiff over typically rubbish British back roads to make you wish that they’d kept some of the suspension rubber. It feels like a car set up on the track, or very smooth European roads, and like all such cars it suffers on UK roads.
That said, the motive power is blameless, the engine almost lag-free, flexible and strong, the gearbox swift and smooth, but I’d still put the Golf motor down as the more characterful.
It handles competently too – it’s safe and accurate with terrific traction but less inclined to involve you in the action. And that’s where the Golf scores most heavily against it.
As the cheapest AMG model there was a great chance to show some of the charm of the rest of the brand. In the event what’s been produced is a car to admire, but not to love.
Engine 2.0 litres, 4 cylinders, turbo
Power 302bhp at 5800rpm
Power to weight 194bhp per tonne
Transmission Seven-speed double clutch, four-wheel drive
Top speed 155mph
Verdict Good, but Golf R is tough rival
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