From the driver’s seat, you can best take in an eye-grabbing triumph of style and function that sets the Mercedes-Benz A35 AMG sports sedan apart from so many of its rivals.

A triumph: this long, sleek digital panel that combines the instrument cluster and the touchscreen multimedia display.

We are looking at a long, sleek digital panel that combines the instrument cluster and the touchscreen multimedia display. A single stretch of glass and electronics, this one unit is neatly tucked into a dashboard designed with precision and care.

I love it. It’s the most impressive piece of this little sedan with its twin-scroll turbocharger pumping up the performance of a rather puny 2.0-litre four-banger. Yes, the A35 AMG will very nicely carve apexes and turn heads with its design, but the “wow” bit is that screen.

This display is the ne plus ultra of how to present and manage digital readouts and controls in today’s four-wheel electronic wonders. The kicker: thank God and Merc’s engineers that you don’t need to bother with the fussy centre console touch controller (something as ill-conceived by Merc as the one Lexus has devised to irritate and confuse us).

Nope. Forget about rubbing and scrolling and fiddling with a finger-pad. This is nothing less than a distracted-driver accident waiting to happen.

Handsome and well-proportioned, but not ground-breaking.

Instead, just speak to the car. Say, “Hey Mercedes.”

And off you go. The voice-activated controls respond to prompts as well as can be expected. The car business has come a long way with artificial intelligence. What Merc calls MBUX will do a lot of things based solely on voice activation. Not everything, but all the key things you need to do while actually driving.

When you’re stopped, though, take a moment with MBUX (a child-like acronym inspired by LEGO, for sure) This is an AMG Merc, so MBUX (can you hear me chuckling at the name while I type it?) will show you an AMG start-up menu with three – THREE – different AMG display styles.

I chose “supersport” mode. With it you get a central, round rev counter flanked by information bars to the left and right. The AMG menu lets you choose various displays: Warm-up, G-Force, Engine Data.

The seats are a disappointment.

You can also use the touchscreen to order up displays of telemetry data, driving program visualizations and the AMG TRACK PACE. It sounds like virtual reality, no? But this is reality reality in a tidy little four-door that corners like a lioness chasing her prey.

And a last, few words about the cabin. Sadly, front-seat comfort is middling; the buckets covered in faux leather lack decent padding and enough cornering support. The rear seating area is tight, but will do for adults on short hops.

Okay, that’s the not-so-great.

The thoroughly delicious part of this cabin design story is the beautiful light blue ambient lighting that casts a wonderful, calming glow about the cabin, especially at night. Where are those lights hidden? Who knows? Glad I’ll never have to change them.

Then there’s the steering wheel. It’s enough to make Lewis Hamilton proud.

The wheel’s rim is, of course flattened and the grip area is covered in perforated leather. Behind the wheel, and perfectly placed for finger

Snug in back.

touches, are the galvanized gearshift paddles that let you control the seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox with its snappy shifts.

On either side of the wheel’s horizontal spoke you’ll find built-in touch control buttons. Swipe them this way ad that and you scroll through instrument cluster and multimedia displays. The controls on the left of the wheel manage cruise control and various functions therein, while on the right the control panels activate voice controls, the telephone, and various multimedia functions.’

It’s all too, too much, I haven’t even discussed what it’s like to drive the A35 AMG.

In a nutshell, then: if you are an enthusiastic, committed driver, you’ll be rewarded. If you’re looking for Toyota Camry comfort but with a three-star emblem on the bonnet, you’ll grow to hate the aggressive throttle tip-in and the at-times-violent engagement (from a standstill) of the dual-clutch gearbox. Don’t buy this car if all you want is a boulevard cruiser with a German pedigree.

Serious driving will enjoy themselves.

But if you’re part of that shrinking pool of drivers who find relaxation and joy in heart-racing driving menoeuvres, this is something you’ll like.

Yes, the 0-100 km/hour time is 4.8 seconds and that’s plenty fast. More importantly, the Merc engineers have done all sorts of things to stiffen the unit-body, among them various braces and even a “sheer panel” aluminum plate bolter under the engine. You won’t complain about twisting or bending. All-wheel drive sends power to the places it’s needed in infinitely variable proportions, though you can choose how aggressive those responses are through what Merc calls ESP.

On top of that, you can choose engine and transmission responses by toggling between “Slippery”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport+” and “Individual.” Then there’s AMG Driving Select which further allows you to select handling responses while AMG Ride Control offers the option of three different ride modes.

The little turbo four is powerful and responsive.

I’m exhausted just thinking about all there is to take in. Electronically controlled interventions and enhancements designed to improve the responses of the largely aluminum suspension components, the strong discs all around, and the variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering…

Which leads me to price. The base is $49,800. My tester with its fancy paint, navigation package and a suite of premium enhancements came in at $55,500, plus fees and taxes.

It’s not a small amount, though hardly outrageous for a live-action, three-dimensional driving instrument that will most assuredly outlast the any virtual reality game.

Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC (Sedan)

Engine: 2.0-litre in-line 4-cylinder with exhaust turbocharger

Output: 302 hp @ 5800 – 6100 rpm/ 295 lb-ft @ 3000 – 4000 rpm

Drive system: AMG Performance 4MATIC fully variable all-wheel drive

Transmission: AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7G dual-clutch transmission

Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 4.8 sec.

Top speed: 210 km/h



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