Racing in the night. The crackling and popping of the exhaust and the lights cutting through the shadows, the adrenaline grows while you press the accelerator pedal. Attacking the corners, savouring every moment into the darkness. Night always brings counsel, and when everything’s quiet and calm, it’s the perfect moment to re-trieve your steps and get out and drive in complete freedom.
Hot hatches have always been true road warriors. They’re everyday heroes that can withstand the rigors of daily life while being true objects of desire. They can always brighten up your routine and they make you appreciate how sport scars do not always need to be uncomfortable 2 seaters.
In the last 10 years, this kind of cars evolved so much that nowadays they’re regarded as the step immediately below supercars. Hot hatches have come a long way from being considered simple factory hot rods to true gran turismos, able to give more than one headache to the noblesse of the car world.
Believe it or not, Mercedes has been able to take on the hot-hatch game like no one has ever done before. In 2013, the W176 A45 AMG shook the world with its 2 litre turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine, (the venerable M133) which was able to produce a whopping 360hp. Equipped with Mercedes’ 4Matic four wheel drive system with hydraulic clutches and the Speedshift Dct gearbox, it was a serious threat to any performance-oriented motorcar on sale at that moment. More importantly, it was able to give AMG a new image: younger, bolder and definitely more appealing to younger buyers.
It handled extremely well and was able to match the practicality of an A Class with the agility of a true rally car.
The W176 A45 was replaced in 2018 by the new W177 A35. Interestingly enough, this is not a downsized car than the predecessor, but a new entry level, which has been cleverly made to quiet down the thirst of the A45, which is due to be introduced later this year. The new 35 is indeed the newest and cheapest way into the magic world of Affalterbach’s machinery and it is as promising on paper as it is capable on the road. Delivering “only” 306 hp from its 2 litre turbocharged straight 4, it employs also a new 4Matic four wheel drive system, which is able to split the torque up to 50% between the front and rear axles thanks to new electro-mechanic actuators. It comes loaded with trickeries which will please its customers: perhaps the fiddliest of all is the new agumented reality option, which projects the ideal racing line on the HUD display of the track you’re driving on, helping you to obtain the maximum out of your new A35.
For drivers, the night is the time when you can truly get out and re-discover the lost thrill of driving your daily car through the shadows. The A35 is a very generous hot hatch: it forgives you any mistake and rewards you when you get things right. It’s responsive, fast and always pushes you forward to drive to the limit, encouraging your progresses and never betraying you. The handling is neutral and balanced at all times with no sign of understeer or oversteer even when provoked, allowing you to concentrate more on the ideal line and put the power down very early and efficiently. Even if you reach the apex still on the brakes, the 4Matic transmission does a wonderful job in keeping you glued on the ground and allowing you to maintain your speed efficiently through the corners. Straights barely exist as they’re literally devoured by the ferociousness of the engine, as the redline approaches way too fast than expected.
It’s easy to keep the rythm: corner after corner, the progression becomes even more thrilling. It’s almost a ritual dance, where you move with a lover which will never betray you and you cannot help but continue to do so, until you decide to stop, flick a button and enjoy the silence of the night, on your way home. The night fighter, the A35 becomes a notmal hatchback, heading on its way home, like a hero who has just finished its job: the routine has been broken and now we can go home, at dawn.
Many thanks to Bonera Group