Driven

A+: 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35

There’s just something about driving a Mercedes. Owners with the three-pointed star on their vehicles will attest to that. But there’s also something that comes with a Mercedes wearing an AMG badge. The Mercedes A-Class sedan is perhaps the most intriguing combination of them all. Mercedes most compact sedan is also now the most affordable gateway to the Mercedes-AMG treatment. Will its diminutive size and performance enhancing components turn this German saloon into a total riot?

On the outside, this petite package shows very little aggression to hint that it has been spiced up beyond the ordinary A-Class. But the platform’s compact sizing makes for great driving dynamics and when paired with the 2.0L four-cylinder. Spend any amount of time behind the wheel and the A35 really lives up to its AMG badge. Ironically though, this is not a full AMG. There is no hand-built engine under the hood like those found in the 45 or 63 models. Producing 302 horsepower and 295lb-ft of torque and mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, the A35 gets to 60 in the mid four second range. We enjoyed the week with this drivetrain overall, but found some complaints with the transmission. It’s poor low-speed manners when pulling away from lights and moving through parking lots made the car feel jerky and unpredictable. But as soon as you’re underway, and especially when driving in a fun manner, the paddle shifters allowed for quick gear changes and will hold gears without upshifting for you in sport mode. Our tester was fitted with the AMG Ride Control Sport Suspension, which is a must have option that showed a diverse change between sport, sport plus and comfort settings.

When the going gets twisty, the A35 really comes into its own. The chassis is fantastic, and with the aforementioned adaptive suspension the ride is compliant over all different surfaces. The steering is sharp and well-weighted; it is some of the best electronic power steering that we’ve felt in a long time. The front end grips well and the all-wheel-drive traction out of the corner is immense. Our tester wore a set of winter-rated tires, which likely helped soften the ride but contributed to the cold weather grip we enjoyed. It is so incredibly fun on the backroads, we actually had more fun in the A35 than we did the C63 Cabriolet from the summer.

Inside the A35 is equipped with the dual screen MBUX infotainment system. The digital gauge cluster is easy to read and full of information. Both screens are completely customizable, with the center infotainment screen being a touchscreen. Typical for Mercedes, the center screen has an overwhelmingly large amount of information available and we still find it difficult to navigate at times. We have experience with the new MBUX system from the GLC63S last year, but it used touchpad operation only. This variant with the touchscreen is easier to use, but you’ll still need a session in the garage to learn what you’re doing. The rest of the interior was very upscale and premium feeling, even for the entry-level Mercedes.

If you’re looking for an entry level sport sedan, look no further than the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35. The A35 is a sport sedan that begs to be driven and provides all the necessities and comfort you need to do so on a daily basis. This is one of the best small cars on the market and the performance per dollar is fairly strong with our tester ringing in at just over $53,000. It may not be a full AMG, but it is just as good if not better than some that we’ve driven.

-Scott Villeneuve

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC$45,850
Mountain Grey Metallic$720
19″ AMG Twin 5-Spoke Wheels$500
AMG Ride Control Sport Suspension$990
Sirius XM Radio$460
Burmester Surround Sound System$850
Heated Front Seats$500
USB-C Adapter Cable$25
Multimedia Package$1,295
Premium Package$800
Destination Charges$1,050
As-Tested MSRP$53,040

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