Mercedes AMG A35 review
The Mercedes-AMG A35 combines a seriously stylish body, a luxurious cabin and more than 300hp. It isn’t as fun as some hot hatches, though, and is quite pricey.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Mercedes AMG A35
It’s all want, want, want with modern hot hatch buyers. We want our cars to be a massive hoot to drive, but not cost too much while doing so, and we want the interior to be roomy enough to deal with everyday life, and be classy enough to make us feel good about sitting in it.
In short, what do we want? Everything! When do we want it? Nowwww!
Thankfully, the Mercedes-AMG A35 fits the bill, mostly; there are definitely some areas where you can find an alternative that is slightly better than the Mercedes. It’s a bit like a stylish but slightly defensive boxer that gets the job done but can’t quite find that headline-grabbing knockout punch to be named the undisputed champion.
However, it still puts up a very strong fight against other similarly priced performance models such as the Audi S3, BMW 128ti and Honda Civic Type R.
Visually it definitely holds its own, and you don’t have to get too close-up to be able to see that the A35 is different from a regular A-Class. You get bigger wheels and brakes, beefed-up bumpers and splitters as standard. The standard version is noticeable but still relatively unassuming unless you go for the optional AMG exterior pack, which dials it up with things such as a bigger spoiler that you definitely won’t miss.
There’s nothing unassuming about the interior, though. As to what you will notice first, it’s a toss-up between the beefy sport seats that offer more support than the standard A-Class and the stylish flat-bottomed steering wheel and metal gear-shift paddles.
Also vying for your attention is the super-slick dual-screen infotainment system that looks like it belongs on the set of a sci-fi blockbuster and the boat-loads of soft plastic and posh brushed-metal trims.
Unlike the optional exterior spoilers, almost all of the flashy kit inside the A35 comes as standard. The sportiest seats will cost you extra, but you might want to weigh up the excellent levels of comfort and supportiveness versus the fact that you lose a bit of space and visibility for the rear passengers.
The only real quibble on the A35’s interior is its boot – it’s smaller than the equivalent on the BMW 1-Series but it will still take a weekly shop so it is unlikely to be a deal-breaker for many.
The Mercedes-AMG A35 shines in terms of looks and pace but you can get more entertainment out of similarly-priced alternatives.
The engine is the most important part of a hot hatch for many people, and the A35 gets a 2.0-litre petrol that’s boosted by a turbo to make 306hp. A standard-fit four-wheel-drive system will help you make the most of that power, ensuring there are no worries about grip on slippery roads. The other neat piece of kit that is included as standard is the launch control system, which means you can leap from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds, even in rainy conditions.
A hot hatch would be nothing if it was all straight-line speed, though, and thankfully the A35 is great at carving through twisty roads, too. It errs a bit more on the sensible, surefooted and predictable side rather than being playful and fun but that also makes it extremely easy to drive fast.
That clever four-wheel-drive system can switch the power between the front and the rear wheels, which provides you with a stable line through corners. If you want something that won’t be as fast on a wet road but will be a lot more entertaining it’s worth looking at the Honda Civic Type R.
Just like in the much, much more expensive AMG GT 4 Door, you can adjust the stiffness of the suspension using a dial on the wheel. Pop it into the most comfortable setting and the A35 copes well with long motorway journeys. The only niggle is you get a lot more noise from the tyres than you do in a regular A-Class with smaller wheels, but the rest is pretty relaxing. You can also opt for a host of driver aids that’ll let it brake, accelerate and keep the A35 in its lane for you – perfect for taking the stress out of rush-hour traffic.
However, all this comes at a price and if you spec the A35 with all the bells and whistles it looks expensive against comparable alternatives. To offset that, why not have a look at our Mercedes-AMG A35 deals to see how much you could save on your preferred spec.
The Mercedes-AMG A35 has enough room for four people and their luggage, but it’s still not as big or as practical as a Honda Civic Type R.
The A35’s dimensions are no different from those of the Mercedes A-Class, which in turn is longer and wider than the old model. As a result, you get more room inside for both passengers and their luggage.
This doesn’t mean that the A35 is the biggest car in its class, but it is big enough. There’s plenty of room for adults in the front and the back, even if you go for the slightly chunkier sport seats. The windows are only thing that might make you feel a little hemmed in the back seats – they are quite small so the cabin can feel a bit dark back there.
There are, however, some handy places for the rear-seat passengers to rest their elbows – although a fold-down armrest is only available as part of the optional Premium equipment package.
There is an impressive amount of storage dotted around the Mercedes-AMG A35’s cabin, with an illuminated glovebox, decent door bins and two cupholders in the centre console – ahead of the touchpad, so tucked nicely out of the way.
There is a bit more storage under the central armrest in the front, while the passengers in the back can make use of the luggage nets on the backs of both front seats.
Rear passengers can also get cup holders, but only if you buy the optional Premium package. This includes the rear armrest that houses the cup-holders too.
Just as Mercedes has created more room for passengers in this new A35, it has also created more luggage space. The boot is bigger than in the previous A-Class (although it’s still a little smaller than the BMW M135i’s) and very easy to load and unload.
On every model, the rear seats are split 60/40, and it’s easy to drop them down. Better still they sit nice and flat to the floor when they are folded, meaning it’s easy to slide in larger items.
The Mercedes-AMG isn’t short of performance for its price, but it is efficient rather than entertaining around the corners and alternatives are more fun.
A high-performance engine is at the core of any AMG model, and in the A35 that is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol that turns out 306hp. To make the most of this, and boost grip on slippery roads, you get a four-wheel-drive system as standard.
Another standard-fit piece of kit that helps boost the A35’s grin factor is the launch control system.
This means you can leap from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds even in rainy conditions – something an owner of a BMW M140i can only dream about. You can’t expect such a potent engine to return amazing fuel economy, but the A35 will manage mid-thirties if you drive it sensibly, which isn’t bad at all.
The Mercedes-AMG A35 is about more than just getting from point A to point B really quickly in a straight line, though. It is great at winding its way down twisty roads, too, although it does it in a manner that is better described as surefooted and predictable rather than playful and fun. This does mean it is very easy to drive quickly, though.
That clever four-wheel-drive system is able to judge whether you are better off with power going to the front or the rear wheels and it adjusts accordingly. which helps get you around corners in a more stable fashion. If you want something that won’t be as fast on a wet road but will be a lot more entertaining, it’s worth looking at the Honda Civic Type R.
The A35 borrows a trick from Mercedes’ much more expensive AMG GT 4 Door model – you can adjust the suspension using a dial on the wheel.
Pop it into the most comfortable setting and the A35 settles down well on long motorway journeys. The large wheels mean that there is a bit more tyre noise than you get on an A-Class with smaller wheels but everything else is pretty relaxing.
You can also opt for a host of driver aids that’ll let it brake, accelerate and keep the A35 in its lane for you – perfect for taking the stress out of rush-hour traffic.
The cabin in the Mercedes-AMG A35 is undoubtedly one of its strongest points. It’s wonderfully designed, works fantastically and is easy to use but desirable kit makes the price add up fast.
Mercedes AMG A35 colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.