Having hosted some of the most popular international motorsport events such as the F1 Grand Prix and MotorGP, the Sepang International Circuit is considered the go-to spot to watch thrilling races in Malaysia. Officially opened in 1999, this 5.543km track boasts 15 turns and eight straights, allowing adrenaline-hungry drivers to pump the accelerator to reach speeds exceeding 300km/h. It is able to accommodate up to 130,000 spectators at a time, many of whom have borne witness to nail-biting competitions over the years.
Options had the opportunity to visit the circuit to try out the now locally-assembled Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC and the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC. After breakfast and a quick introduction, the media were ushered down to the pit to meet Mercedes-Benz Malaysia vice-president of sales and marketing Michael Jopp.
“At Mercedes-Benz, we always take pride in a strong belief of providing only the best as we continue to meet customer demand. As both the A-Class and GLA are our best-selling models, we are excited to be able to launch the new Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC sedan and the GLA 35 4MATIC, both assembled in Pekan, Pahang. With these vehicles introduced, we continue to deliver on our promise to serve Malaysian customers a wider range of high-performance luxury cars. We are confident that they will provide anyone behind the steering wheel a drive to remember,” he says.
What these models have in common is a 2L four-cylinder turbo engine that roars with even the slightest touch of the accelerator. Producing 306 horsepower, the engine has an impressive 400 Nm of torque, and the addition of the AMG Ride Control suspension as well as the AMG Dynamic Select give these cars both power and comfort.
The AMG-specific 4MATIC all-wheel drive system enables the A 35 to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in an incredible 4.8 seconds, while the GLA 35 accelerates in 5.2 seconds.
While the imported Mercedes-AMG A 35 is a popular model, the locally-assembled sedan is now equipped with the handy parking package that includes a 360° camera, head-up display as well as AMG steering buttons to improve the experience. These cars are also fitted with the Keyless-Go Comfort package, wireless charging and a feature that enables another level of convenience, the MBUX Interior Assistant.
Aesthetically speaking, the A 35 is sleek and sporty, especially with the addition of the 19in, AMG 5-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels fitted into a wider wheel arch necessary for these kinds of wheels. The vehicle on show was in Iridium Silver, but it is also available in classic Polar White, sensuous Cosmos Black, sleek Mountain Grey and sophisticated Denim Blue. The sporty interior features either an Artico man-made leather or Dinamica microfibre black with accents of the Aluminium AMG Design trim in black or silver. The Manufaktur seat belts in red are another AMG reference. The steering wheel, which has AMG steering wheel buttons, is wrapped in nappa leather.
The A 35 also has a Burmester surround sound system and the latest communications module to allow easy use of the Mercedes me connect services. While the GLA 35 also features this stellar sound system, technological advancements of the A 35 — such as the Mercedes me upgrades and the Keyless-Go Comfort package — and the same five colour options, there are a few aesthetic differences. For instance, it is fitted with sports seats in Artico man-made leather or Dinamica microfibre in black with a vibrant top-stitching in red, as well as red seat belts.
The interior also sports the AMG hand comforter in the centre console that features the buttons to operate the manual transition mode, 3-stage ESP and AMG Ride Control suspension. For added comfort, this car has Thermotronic automatic climate control, as well as folding rear seat backrests for more space. It also includes the Light & Sight package, as well as 64-colour ambient lighting with an auto-dimming interior mirror and driver’s exterior mirror function.
The exterior of the GLA 35 is assertive, with key features that make AMG vehicles distinctive, such as the signature radiator grille with vertical louvres and the iconic AMG front apron with front splitter and lateral louvres that have a silver chrome trim. Equipped with Multibeam LED headlights that have Adaptive Highbeam Assist plus and eye-catching 20in, AMG 5-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels, this vehicle is complete with polished aluminium roof rails.
For added protection, the GLA 35 includes the Easy-Pack tailgate and Urban Guard vehicle protection, which has an anti-theft alarm system and an interior monitoring system viewable from the Mercedes me app. Other features include kneebag and rear seat belt status indications in the instrument display and Tirefit, which monitors tyre pressure.
Start your engines
We were split into groups, and mine was chosen to start with a drag race. We did not get our hands on one of the cars of the hour, but started with the GLA 250 and then the EQA 250.
If you have never driven an all-electric car before, the immediate acceleration is a whole new experience. Still, it could not keep up with the sheer power of the AMG GLA 35, which zoomed by us.
In between all the activity, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series was also unveiled, but as this beast already had an owner, we could only look on in envy from behind a barrier. Equipped with the most powerful V8 engine, which results in an output of 537 kW, the car had a startling orange and black exterior.
Helmets on, we lined up, the air abuzz with excitement because next was a couple of rounds on the real thing: the Sepang circuit. For the first round, we were in the backseat of the AMG A 35, and naturally, were grateful for the seat belt that prevented us from being whipped back and forth too much.
Then we were behind the wheel of the Denim Blue GLA 35, and using the electrically adjustable seats to get comfortable. The steering wheel in nappa leather, which was comfortable to grip, had a flattened bottom section and AMG steering wheel buttons to really settle the driver into the most authentic racing environment. Following the line of drivers ahead, we snaked along the sharp corners with ease, using the straights to really put our foot down on the accelerator. This thrilling drive was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially with such a powerful vehicle, and it was all over far too quickly.
This article first appeared on July 18, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.