BABY A45! AMG’s Oz-bound 225kW/400Nm A35 hot hatch
THE NEW MERCEDES A35 will be the cheapest and least powerful AMG on offer, yet it might also be its most important model. The A45 uber-hatch proved AMGs didn’t need eight cylinders to capture the enthusiast imagination, but its price and performance left a yawning gulf between it and the everyday A250 that the likes of the Audi S3 and BMW M140i happily filled.
Understandably, Mercedes wants in on the action and the new A35 will slot perfectly between the 165kW/350Nm A250 and the as yet to be unveiled new-generation A45. Essentially, it’s a detuned A45; while that means the A35 is unlikely to deliver the outright thrills of its bigger brother, on the plus side, it shares a lot of its engineering.
This begins with the bodyshell, the front of which is strengthened by a pair of diagonal braces and the addition of a ‘shear panel’, an aluminium plate bolted underneath the engine. Torsional rigidity is increased, which allows for optimisation of the suspension setup. That suspension consists of a MacPherson strut front end with AMGspecific steering knuckles and four-link rear using hubs from the current A45.
The A45 also donates its impressive braking hardware, 350mm discs and four-piston calipers up front and 330mm discs with single-piston calipers at the rear, which should ensure the less powerful A35 stops on a 10-cent piece. Adaptive dampers are optional overseas, but will almost certainly be standard when it lands in Australia, continually adjusting the damping force in response to road conditions.
Under the bonnet is a new 1991cc turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 225kW between 58006100rpm and 400Nm between 3000-4000rpm. The turbocharger is a twin-scroll unit, with each housing duct being fed by two cylinders to reduce exhaust gas back pressure and improve response. Efficiency measures including variable valve control, piezo injectors and CONICSHAPE cylinder honing – the cylinders flare out to be wider at the bottom than the top, like the mouthpiece of a trumpet – result in a claimed fuel consumption of just 7.3-7.4L/100km according to the European combined cycle.
Of more interest to us is the 0-100km/h time of 4.7sec thanks to the combination of a quick-shifting seven-speed dual clutch transmission, finely tuned launch control system and all-wheel drive. The A35’s 4MATIC system can infinitely vary drive, from 100 per cent front-wheel drive to sending up to 50 per cent of thrust to the rear axle.
Torque distribution is handled by an electro-mechanically controlled multidisc clutch, claimed to be able to react quicker than an electro-hydraulic setup. Numerous parameters influence the drive split, including road speed, lateral and longitudinal g-force, steering angle, gear selection, accelerator position and the difference in speed between individual wheels.
Four drive programs are available – Slippery, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus – with the ability to pick and choose attributes from each and save the desired combination in a fifth Individual mode. Each is fairly self-explanatory, but Sport Plus introduces rev-matching on downshifts and ignition cut on fullthrottle upshifts for the signature dualclutch blurt.
Further enhancing the A35’s handling is AMG Dynamics. In Sport and Sport Plus mode the program switches from Basic to Advanced, using the ESP system to subtly brake an inside rear wheel during cornering, quelling understeer and reducing the amount of steering angle required. Switching the ESP to Sport or Off also switches the 4MATIC into its Sport mode.
Differentiating the A35 from its more subtle siblings will be easy thanks to the AMG body enhancements, including the twin-louvre grille, front bar with aero flics and splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser, roof spoiler and twin round exhaust outlets. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard overseas, but on past form we’d expect the 19-inch multi-spokers pictured here to be standard fit on Aussie cars.
It’s on the inside, however, that the A35 will truly impress, bringing S-Class levels of technology and toys to the hot-hatch segment.
Twin digital screens display instrument and infotainment data, the former customisable with the highlight being AMG’s ‘Supersport’ mode, which offers a large, central rev counter with extra information, such as engine data or g-force, displayed either side.
Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment system will be a revelation to those more familiar with its previous COMAND setup, offering the ability to operate multimedia via the new central console touchpad, touchscreen or ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice operation. The latter is able to control virtually every facet of the car via voice control and can learn your voice thanks to artificial intelligence. Spooky stuff, but having sampled it in the base A200, it works extremely well.
Of special mention is the steering wheel, which incorporates the touch control buttons from the S-Class – left controls cruise control, right multimedia – and the new Drive Select dials from the facelifted C63. Also worth noting is the AMG Track Pace app, which can record 80 data points while lapping a racetrack, including the ability to display sector times in green or red against a previous best lap.
This information can then be displayed via the multimedia screen, instrument cluster or head-up display. A number of well-known racetracks – AMG gives the examples of the famed Nurburgring and Spa-Francorchamps – with the ability to input new circuits. In addition, Track Pace can record all the usual acceleration and deceleration metrics such as 0-100km/h, 0-400m and 100-0km/h.
That’s everything you currently need to know about the A35, but it’ll be slotting into a very different premium hot-hatch landscape when it arrives in the second half of 2019. It’s not a huge stretch to imagine BMW’s nextgen hot 1 Series adopting the all-wheel drive system and 225kW/450Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol from the recently announced X2 M35i, while Audi’s A3 is due for renewal in 2019 with an S3 bound to follow in short order. Time will tell who comes out on top, but it’s first blood to AMG.
RETRO-INSPIRED ‘Icona’ models, hybrids and supercars are on the menu
FERRARI IS set to undergo some of the biggest changes in its 71-year history with new models, a revised range and the adoption of new technology like hybrid powertrains and driver assistance systems.
Maranello will invest €3.6b (AUD$5.8b) between 2018-2022, including €650m (AUD$1b) in 2018 alone, with the vast majority of that spent on revamping its product portfolio, with the promise of 15 new launches by 2022.
The most exciting of which is a new performance-leading mid-engined supercar. According to Ferrari’s marketing chief, Enrico Galliera, the car will offer performance beyond the LaFerrari, allowing the successor to the 488 GTB, due in 2019, to focus on “maximum fun to drive”.
Both models will be hybrid, but the choice of engine is unknown, Ferrari committing to a new turbocharged V6, further development od the current twin-turbo V8 and extending the lifespan of the naturally aspirated V12.
Ferrari’s next-gen GT cars are set to focus on luxury just as much as performance, inspired by the elegance of classic Ferraris like the 250 Lusso. This will include the introduction of the ‘Purosangue’ – Ferrari-speak for crossover – a raised ride height fourseater designed to appeal to markets like China where outright performance has little relevance.
Finally, Icona models such as the Monza SP1 pictured above will be exclusive offerings for Ferrari VIPs, modern takes on famous Prancing Horses from the past.
VOLKSWAGEN Australia has challenged its apprentices with unleashing the potential of the Arteon, the goal being a 0-100km/h time of under four seconds. Some of VW’s top young technicians had a week to turn the luxo tourer into a drag-strip weapon, which made its debut at World Time Attack and set its first official lap time (after we closed for press). Bilstein and H&R supplied the suspension and Volksmuller the brakes, while under the bonnet there is a Harding Performance Stage 3 kit. Consisting of a new turbo, high-flow intake, muffler delete and ECU remap, Harding claims outputs increase from 206kW/380Nm to around 350kW/600Nm. The wildly styled ‘ARTeon’ should have no trouble achieving its goal, Harding claiming a 0-100km/h time of 2.9sec.
PORSCHE builds Moby Dick-inspired track car
SEVENTY-SEVEN lucky Porsche enthusiasts will be able to live out their Le Mans fantasies from behind the wheel of the new Porsche 935. Just 77 will be built at a cost of €701,948, which is approaching AUD$1.5m by the time currency conversion and the addition of local taxes has taken place.
Based on a 911 GT2 RS, the 935 blends elements from the GT3 R endurance racecar with retro elements from the famous 935/78, better knoes as 'Moby Dick' a 600kw monster built for the 1978 Le. Mans 24 hour and capable of 365km/h on the Muslanne straight
The wild bodywork makes the 935 316mm longer and 56mm wider than the GT2 RS donor car, but thanks to predominantly carbon-fibre bodywork and a stripped-out interior, 90kg is shed the 935 weighing in at just 1380kg.
Power remains at the same 515 kw/750Nm as the GT2 RS, but thanks to the diet the 935’s power-to- weight ratio improves from 350kw/ tonne ti 373kw/tonne. Power is sent through a seven-speed dualclutch dualclutch gearbox and racing-optimised differential to monster slicks which wrap around those gorgeous centre-lock aero wheels measuring 18 x 11.5-inch front and 18 x 13.0-inch rear
The 935's chassis is essentially as per the GT2 RS, albeit with steel brakes rather the carbon -ceramics, but on the inside the new -age Moby Dick is Pure GT3 R, including a weld-in roll cage, FIA-spec racing seat (passenger seat optional), carbon steering Wheel integrated fire extinguisher system, 115- litre fuel cell and air jacks unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the 935 is not road- legal, but for the Wealthy and Forturnate few it is the ultimate factory -built track toy
IT’S little wonder Jesse couldn’t beat Johnny Tran’s worked Honda S2000 when all he had was an auto fourpot Jetta at his disposal. The nitrous-equipped star of The Fast & the Furious is for sale in the US for USD$99,000 and is signed by the late Paul Walker, Chad Lindberg (who played Jesse) and director Rob Cohen.
AUSSIE carbon creator Carbon Revolution is to undergo a $100m expansion, with a new facility offering the possibility of tripling its workforce. The expansion will allow a huge increase in production capacity, as the Geelong-based manufacturer increases its OEM supply to the likes of Ford and Ferrari.
BUYING some new power tools was the best decision this apprentice carpenter ever made. Not only did he invest in his future career, but he also won a Herrod Performance Supercharged Mustang, a competition prize offered by Herrod and Milwaukee Tools. The only drawback is that while he can learn to drive in it, the Pony is off limits once he gets his P plates.
Value Control is set to change with the arrival of infinitely variable valves
MORE POWER, LESS FUEL Mazda has trialled adding spark to diesel-like compression ignition in petrol engines, but is yet to debut a production-ready version. Camcon’s intelligent valve actuation system, shown here, could take it further, and dramatically reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption.
IMAGINE A VALVE control system without compromises, one that isn’t crank-driven and doesn’t play by conventional rules. Such an engine would allow infinitely variable timing on all its valves, independent of one another, meaning it could effectively tune itself on the move, boosting power and efficiency. It could also offer cylinder deactivation, eliminate a turbocharger’s wastegate, switch between four- and two-stroke cycles and even run as an ingenious, very efficient 12-stroke.
Camcon, a UK-based firm, is working on intelligent valve actuation (IVA), which has big component manufacturers interested, and is predicted to reach mainstream production within five years.
How does it work? IVA employs an independently driven camshaft for each conventional engine valve via a desmodromic linkage. All aspects of the valve timing are independently and infinitely variable, with full feedback control, allowing valve lift, duration, and timing to be adjusted independently of each other. In other words, a lot more than currently possible with crank-driven camshafts.
Because it’s an active system, Camcon’s Roger Stone explains: “It could unlock homogeneous charge compression ignition (a very efficient, diesel-like combustion process) and both the Miller and Atkinson cycles respond well to IVA.” Working on the inlet cam side only, it has improved a Jaguar Ingenium engine’s efficiency by 7.5 per cent, and a non-VVT engine’s by 10.5, with room for further improvement in varied conditions.
And that 12-stroke system we mentioned? In motorway cruising, every cylinder fires only every third stroke, which is potentially cleaner than cylinder deactivation since there are no CO2 spikes as cylinders are reactivated. Nifty.