Mercedes A35 Review & Prices
The Mercedes-AMG A35 is a capable hot hatch that feels better-suited to fast road driving than the pricier A45, though it does lack the character that car’s ludicrous performance provides
What's not so good
Find out more about the Mercedes A35
If you’re looking for a hot hatch that fits the traditional recipe – performance you can enjoy on the road and enough comfort that family days out don’t always end with a trip to the chiropractor – then the Mercedes-AMG A35 is an excellent choice.
It’s like the sensible sibling of the family show-off. While the more powerful and expensive AMG A45 struts around as if it owns the place, the A35 promises nearly as much excitement with a less in-your-face appearance.
That’s not to say it looks boring – far from it. The A-Class on which the A35 is based is already a handsome car, and updates in 2023 subtly improved things, with the most obvious change being a new AMG-specific front grille.
You can also tell the A35 apart from the regular A-Class thanks to a rear spoiler and redesigned front bumper, which give the A35 more visual impact without turning it up to 11 like the A45.
It’s a similar story inside. We’ve always liked the way the A-Class’s interior looks – even if there are some lower quality materials to be found. That’s also true of the AMG versions, but the twin-screen infotainment setup at least looks great and works well, while the AMG steering wheel elevates the sportiness to a level that matches the exterior and comes with rotary dials to select your drive modes.
Furthering the sporty mood are the figure-hugging seats. They’re much more comfortable than the ones you get in the A45 and help to make the A35 feel much better-suited to daily road driving duties. Its bigger brother requires more commitment in this regard because of its hard seats and jiggly ride, making it more of a special occasion car than a usable hot hatch.
The A35 is supremely capable on a twisty road and comfortable enough to drive every day – if the boot was bigger it would have everything a practical performance car needs
It’s not just the seats that make the A35 feel more comfortable. In its normal setting, the A35 doesn’t jiggle about too much around town so it’s pretty relaxing to drive, but even in its sportier modes, it won’t rattle your bones.
It’s undeniably softer than the A45, so you’d think that makes it more boring. Well, yes and no. Point it down a twisty road and it’s supremely capable, with excellent handling and enough performance to keep pace with any other hot hatch you might consider.
However, hot hatches have always been a bit silly – you’re taking a family car and giving it lots of power to enjoy when you don’t have a weekly shop in the boot. The A35 takes the job of going quickly quite seriously, and does so very efficiently. But it lacks the giggle-inducing drama of the A45’s performance, while the Honda Civic Type R feels more fun in the corners. It's just lacking a little, well… what’s the German for ‘je ne sais quoi’?
That said, an A45 is considerably more expensive and the Honda’s interior isn’t as fancy; if you get your kicks from going quickly, you won’t be disappointed. The A35 does everything right – it turns sharply, grips well, rockets out of corners and has a gearbox that can actually keep up with your demands, even in automatic mode.
This makes it a tempting prospect, with more than enough power for most and some suitably sporty touches inside and out. If you fancy one you can check out the latest Mercedes deals on carwow, or browse our stock of used A35s.
The Mercedes A35 has a RRP range of £45,915 to £50,825. The price of a used Mercedes A35 on carwow starts at £39,900.
There are three versions of the Mercedes-AMG A35, with prices for the top-spec model tipping over £50,000 before options. That’s a lot for a hatchback, regardless of its performance, but it’s fairly competitive with alternatives.
The Honda Civic Type R sits at the top of the A35’s price range, but while its interior is nowhere near as fancy, it feels like a more serious bit of kit, even if it’s front-wheel drive. The A35 would definitely be the better car for everyday driving.
Prices are almost identical with the Audi S3, which is its closest rival – both have all-wheel drive and posh cabins. The Volkswagen Golf R is another good alternative, and it costs a bit less than the Mercedes, though much of this is down to it not being quite as upmarket inside.
The Mercedes-AMG A35 provides its kicks through impressive pace down a twisty road, but it lacks the character of some alternatives
The mark of a good hot hatch is that you’re just as happy to take it on the school run or a weekend trip into town as you are pointing it down a twisty road. And here the Mercedes-AMG A35 is impressive in all the ways the A45 could become annoying.
That car has very uncomfortable seats, and you will hit the odd sharp edge, such as a pothole, that will send a jolt through the cabin. The A35 is much more relaxing, and in its comfort mode in particular, doesn’t feel much sportier than a regular A-Class at low speeds.
Visibility is decent too, apart from a bit of a blind spot over your rear shoulder – a blind spot monitor is standard from the middle model and up. The controls are nice and light, so it’s easy to park or pull off tight manoeuvres, helped by a 180-degree parking camera as standard (or 360 degrees on the top-spec version).
On the motorway
Out on the motorway, there’s a tendency for sporty models with big alloy wheels to be a touch unrefined. However, again, the A35 impresses here. Helped by the comfortable sports seats, it’s easy to sit at 70mph for long distances with just a bit of tyre roar for company. Dial up the volume on the stereo a little and you won’t even notice that.
A lane-keeping assistance system helps keep you between the white lines and it’s one of the better systems because you’ll barely notice it’s there until it’s really needed. Cruise control is included as standard, but disappointingly the adaptive system – which can adjust your speed to keep pace with traffic – is only offered as an optional extra on the top-spec model.
On a twisty road
Twisty roads are where the Mercedes-AMG A35 comes alive. Flick the rotary dial to its sportier settings and the suspension stiffens up, which coupled with the sharper throttle response reminds you this is a hot hatch and not just a high-spec A-Class.
Press the throttle all the way down and the engine races around towards the red line, followed by a snappy gear change, which is rarely caught out when left in automatic mode. Shifts are quick if you take control using the paddles behind the wheel, but there’s no satisfying click when you use them.
When driving enthusiastically, you turn the steering wheel and the front tyres bite the Tarmac readily, sending the car darting towards the corner – it feels like you’d have to be a bit of a hooligan to make the tyres break loose.
However, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but the A35 isn’t quite as much fun as the Volkswagen Golf R. It just feels a bit too easy and predictable. Therein lies much of its appeal, but if you really prefer a rowdier driving experience, the Honda Civic Type R is still your best bet.
There’s plenty of room for passengers, but the boot isn’t as spacious as you’ll find elsewhere
The driving position is good and there’s plenty of adjustability in the steering wheel and seat so you can get comfortable regardless of whether you’re tall or short. The sports seats are comfortable and have side supports that hold you in place nicely, but aren’t too tight for larger drivers.
Practicality is generally quite good. This is a small car, and by those standards the door bins are a fairly good size, but they won’t fit a big water bottle. The cup holders are deep enough to keep your drink in place when cornering hard, and you get a wireless phone charger beneath the centre console.
Space in the back seats
Kneeroom in the back is really good – a six-footer can comfortably fit behind another six-footer. Headroom isn’t quite as impressive, and if you need to carry three across the back they will certainly know each other better than they did before a long drive. It’s a bit of a squeeze, so if you often carry people in the rear seats you might want to give the Volkswagen Golf R a closer look.
Space is okay but practicality is less so, with tiny door bins that will force you to hold onto your chunky water bottles. With a single USB-C slot though, there could be fights over who gets to charge their devices.
Fitting an ISOFIX seat is fairly simple. The rear doors don’t open very far, which can make it a bit trickier with bulky seats in particular, but the anchor points in the seat are exposed so once you’re in they’re easy to access.
While interior space is fairly good, that is at the expense of boot space – at 355 litres, the A35 has a smaller boot than most of your other hot hatch alternatives.
The Honda Civic Type R might be the most hardcore to drive, but it’s also the most practical with its 410-litre boot. The Audi S3 is a bit more practical than the A35, with 370 litres on offer, while the Golf R is the smallest alternative at 341 litres.
The boot is quite shallow, so it’s really easy to reach the latches that fold the rear seats down. Doing this opens up 1,195 litres of space, which is just behind the Honda and the Volkswagen, which both have just over 1,200 litres.
It’s a useful enough space unless you’re lugging furniture around, but if you do have some big, heavy items in the back, there is a bit of a lip that you’ll need to lift them over.
Sporty upgrades elevate the cabin nicely, but disappointing material quality isn't too hard to find
The Mercedes A-Class interior looks like it comes from a bigger, posher car, thanks to its stylish design and large screens spanning the dashboard. You get two 10.25-inch displays, one for the dials and driving information, and the other for your infotainment system.
The latter is slick and easy to use, with clear displays and intuitive menu design. Mercedes has ditched the touchpad between the drivers, which made it easier to use on the move, but the touchscreen is at least responsive and the voice recognition works well.
Specific to the AMG models is the steering wheel, which has a lovely Nappa leather wrapping. The rotary dials for selecting which drive mode you use are really nifty, and the built-in displays make them look extra fancy.
What’s not specific to the AMG models, though, is the odd sign of cost-cutting. Although the A-Class cabin looks great, there are cheap materials to be found, and some bits feel like they could break if you yanked them too hard. It’s annoying in the regular A-Class, but when prices for the A35 are hovering around £50,000, it’s less forgivable.
There’s just the one engine option in the Mercedes-AMG A35 and that’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that makes 306hp and 400Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, contributing to the 4.7-second 0-62mph time.
Those figures are pretty much bang on with its competitors, with the Volkswagen Golf R actually completing the 0-62mph sprint in an identical time.
Fuel economy isn’t too bad considering this is a performance model, with official figures suggesting up to 33mpg is possible – though high 20s is more likely if you’re taking it easy. CO2 emissions sit at 193g/km, which is pretty high, and as such the A35 sits in one of the higher first-year road tax bands.
It also faces an extra annual charge in years two to six because the original purchase price is above £40,000. If you’re considering one as a company car, it falls into the highest benefit-in-kind bracket of 37%.
The A35 hasn’t gone through Euro NCAP safety testing as it’s a niche model, but the regular A-Class has, so that score still applies here. And it’s good news, because the hatchback scored five-out-of-five with some hugely impressive scores – it was rated above 91% in the adult occupant, child occupant and vulnerable road users sections.
Standard assistance kit is pretty standard, with lane-keeping assist, a system that turns on emergency lighting in the event of a crash, and cruise control included on all models. A traffic sign reader and a 360-degree parking camera come on the top-spec A35, while a blind spot warning is added from the middle trim.
The Mercedes A-Class has a fairly average reputation for reliability – you shouldn’t be too worried about catastrophic issues, but it won’t be bullet-proof, either. AMG models have at least gone through a more attentive engine-building process, so they should be more reliable than the regular models.
You get the same three-year, unlimited mileage warranty you get on the rest of the Mercedes range, which is the same as the Honda Civic Type R. The Volkswagen Golf R offers the same time period, but has a 60,000-mile cap.