Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon A35 AMG 4MATIC Review
Sleeper

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
25 Nov 2020
 

If you are looking for badge-recognition and performance to boast, the A35 does a fine job… that is if you are tearing up the road.

If you are fine with blowing a little more than 200 grand on a car, you’d be quite spoilt for choice. You could swing in the direction of the sensible guy, and head off to purchase a BMW 3 Series (320i), or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class (C200), or even shoot for an Audi A4 with some change to spare.

Alternatively, you could opt for a class downgrade… but a performance upgrade. The Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic Saloon could be just that car you could be looking for. For one, you are still driving something with a three-pointed star. The other is, you have an AMG badge to show for your money spent.

That said, the A35 Saloon is one that could simply fly under the radar with, since it can be easily mistaken for the regular bread-and-butter-but-still-premium A200 Saloon, with an AMG Line trim slapped on. The added body bling you would be hoping for, is in typical German sense - subtle...

And here they are, a twin louvre mesh grille, higher-performance AMG brakes, a decorative diffuser at the rear, an understated rear wing and round tailpipes… Enough information here for poser coverts.

But before you get all excited with butterflies in your tum tum, the A35 is not a full-fledged AMG car, like its 45 sibling… the kind you would want to kiss the hand of that one person who hand-assembled your engine. Think of this instead more of an AMG-tuned, rather than AMG-built affair.

Inside

Just like the mild exterior tweaks, the inside of the A 35 remains almost unchanged. Even the seats have been retained, but spruced up with gripper Alcantara where it contacts your behind and back, and some contrast red stitching to remind you of its sporting intent.

The dashboard features the now-familiar snowboard-style panel, which houses both 10,25” displays, one which functions as the instrument panel, and the other for the infotainment. Strangely, our press car came with a tiny 7” instrument panel. And if you are comparing it to the previous generation A-series Mercs, the dash and interior build on this one does not feel cheap.

For those who like a connected drive, the small Mercedes offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and their all-new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), which is activated with the phrase “Hey Mercedes”. There is also a charging pad for your mobile device to ensure that you are never out of juice on longer days out.

And yes, since it is the A-Class with an actual boot, you are endowed with quite a practical 420 litres.

The Drive

Crank up the engine, and right away, there is a notable difference between the AMG-badged car and the A200. The sporty engine note is satisfying, and probably will be justification enough to part with your money. 

The M260 family four-cylinder 2.0 turbocharged unit delivers 306hp and 400Nm, the latter which maxes from between 3,000-4,000rpm; which we feel is on the higher side, since many cars these days deliver maximum torque at sub 2,000rpm levels.

An AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed provides forward motivation to all four wheels, and takes the small Mercedes to the 100km/h benchmark in 4.8 seconds.

The accompanying sound of its arsenal of four cylinders firing, together with its sporty exhaust note is satisfying. I do like how everything comes together; the weighted and accurate steering, and how effortless and nimble the car feels in your hands as you punch it around the bends. AMG magic has also found its way into the A35’s suspension, improving on stiffness. 

I must stress that the optional 3-stage AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension is a must-have in this car if you want it to be livable, and yet do its magic. This is because the smaller game is the thing that also matters plenty. At slower speeds, when doing practical stuff, like entering a carpark, you will find that the suspension, especially at the rear can be too firm. The gearbox also seems to like hunting for gears unnecessarily. But overall, it is still a somewhat decent daily driver.

Our Thoughts

If you are looking for badge-recognition and performance to boast, the A35 does a fine job… that is if you are tearing up the road. However, I wished that they would have done a little more for its day-to-day capabilities.

Competition comes in the form of aspirational models from BMW’s stable, which are the M135i and M235i, while we will have to wait and see if Audi will show up with the next S3 when they launch the new A3.

In Summary

We Like

I like sleepers, so this does score points… shallow I know. Good performance. Overall a better car than the A-series it replaces.

We Don't

Day-to-day driving is somewhat marred by an overly stiff suspension. Gearbox tends to gear-hunt at lower city speeds.

Verdict

If it is performance you crave… with a badge, the A35 Saloon does a pretty neat job. Perhaps they could look into improving on their gearbox.

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SGD 313,888 (11 Jun 2022)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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