Mercedes-AMG has confirmed it is introducing a cheaper entry-point to the family, with its upcoming new A45 hot hatch to be joined by a performance-focused little brother, the A35.
The A45’s baby-brother marks the most accessible entry point to the AMG range to date (though, given the A45’s $75,000 asking price, one that’s still unlikely to be all that accessible), and the A35 will be home to a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine which is currently under development.
It will be the first performance-stamped variant born from the new A-Class, which is due to be revealed at the 2018 Geneva motor show in March and on-sale in Australia before the end of the year.
The performance-packed A45 will also remain powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol but its output will likely be increased up to almost 300kW.
“The A45 will have its successor, but we’re going to add the entry performance as well,” said Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers.
“We’re going to start off with new A-Class coming out next year, and then we're going to start with the entry performance.
“(The) 45 and 63 (badges) are well-known established performance cars, 43 and 53 are entry performance from our perspective. And then we’re going to start with a (new) entry performance; a 35.
“It was really a logical step to do. So far, we don't have an offering in that segment. It’s a really competitive segment, and it's going to be a challenge for us, but we’re going to face that challenge. “
While yet to be confirmed, the A35 will sit price wise between the $55,000 A250 Sport and $75,000 AMG A45. Look no further than Audi’s S3, which wears a $63,900 price tag, as to what competition the A35 has in its sights.
And in news that will have AMG loyalists weeping tears of relief, Moers is promising the entry-level A35 will still be a true AMG, despite its comparatively low price tag.
“It’s still a part of AMG. I strictly believe in product, and they have to be aligned in our brand approach,” he said.
“And this counts for an A35 as well. It's very, very important, otherwise you're going to dilute the brand. Just putting a badge on the trunk would be easily done, and maybe it works quite well for a year or two, but then you're just going to dilute the brand and we’re never going to do that.
“So even for an A35 there is a lot of effort… we run the whole chassis program as we do for a performance car, so everything is the same. “
Speaking at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Moers wouldn't go into specific technical detail but the A35’s 2.0-litre will be more powerful than the A250’s 160kW and 350Nm output. Whether it will have a front-drive or all-wheel drive configuration also remains secret for now but Moers said the new engine would accompany an overhaul of driving dynamics.
“It’s a new engine. We're in the middle of developing the brand-new engine,” he said. “And you know when you're moving up in power output - and that's what we certainly do - it needs some improvements in driving dynamics as well, and we’re going to add that to the next generation as well.”
“This gives us, from an engineering point of view, new access because we have a higher number of cars, and if you share components between entry and performance then you can get to the better performance because we can spend more money."
Much like AMG's recent foray into successful AMG 43 models, Moers says the A35 is critical in widening the brand's appeal, and in creating a price point that will drag more people into dealerships, and specifically the stand-alone AMG dealers that will soon appear in Australia, with the first to officially open in Sydney at the Kingsford Smith Airport in a fortnight.
“And then there's the economy of scale for our dealership - that's great. Just now we're going to open a dealership in Sydney, at the airport, it's a stand-alone dealership. They wouldn't do so if we didn't provide them the perspective in a wide portfolio."
The A35 isn’t the only big news to come out LA, with Moers also confirming one of the show’s worst-kept secrets; that another all-new performance badge will debut next year.
The upcoming hybrid-powered CLS 53 will see the new badge applied to the E-Class with the launch of the AMG E53 and potentially other models such as the next-gen GLE SUV and C-Class sedan.
Cars branded with 53 badges will feature the same 3.0-litre straight-six engine currently rolling out in updated S-Class models, but with the addition of a 50kW electric motor that helps boost outputs to around 320kW.
Don't expect to see the 53 badging filtered across the AMG range, however, with the hybrid drivetrain restricted to a handful of models, at least initially.
“It’s another level of performance compared to the 43s,” Moers said. “That’s the story behind it. It’s an electrified engine, and the 48-volt [system] is part of that game as well.”
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