The 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 sports a 302-hp turbo four that snorts like a hog on steroids and kicks like a mule when launched from a stop. Barnyard analogies aside, the A35 is based on the Mercedes-Benz A-class compact sedan but overhauled by the AMG performance sub-brand with the aforementioned engine upgrade and comprehensive chassis enhancements. While the A35’s dual-clutch automatic might occasionally stumble, and its brittle ride and noisy interior fall short of Mercedes’ luxury pedigree, the small four-door is a hoot to drive hard. Its lively steering benefits from strong front-end grip, and the all-wheel-drive system mimics the tenacious traits of rally-inspired icons such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. That comparison might offend badge snobs, but the 2022 A35—with its sub-$50,000 starting price and stylish cabin—is an accessible and appealing entry point to AMG fandom.
What’s New for 2021?
For 2021, Mercedes adds blind-spot monitoring and a 64-color ambient-light system to the standard-equipment list, and the company now allows buyers to spec the MBUX Interior Assistant as a standalone option. Mercedes has also confirmed that the A35 will not be sold in the U.S. market for the 2022 model year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d start by adding the Driver Assistance pack for Merc’s smart cruise control and other driver-assistance features. We’d also spec the AMG Ride Control adaptive-damping system so we could adjust suspension firmness as we please. The Premium package is a must for keyless entry, but it also comes with an auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror, power-folding side mirrors, and a remote trunk opener that’s activated your foot under the bumper. And because some of us love inflatable bolsters and heated seats, we’d be tempted to spec the AMG Performance Seat package.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the A35’s hood sits an AMG-enhanced turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive comes standard, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic boasts a launch-control feature that allows for maximum acceleration from a standstill. Too bad the transmission sometimes stumbles at low speeds. In our testing, this 3513-pound sedan raced to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 109 mph—admirable times for something in this segment. We appreciate the optional adaptive dampers for their ability to provide excellent handling and a taut, sporty ride, but rougher roads and freeway expansion joints can send sharp jolts make their way into the cabin. If you want a reasonably priced (for AMG) hot rod with even more power, don’t fret: Mercedes offers the coupe-like CLA45 four-door. It goes for about $10,000 more than the A35, however.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The A35 is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Those ratings are about even with what the German competition from Audi and BMW can muster. But on our 75-mph fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, the little AMG outdid its highway estimate, averaging 34 mpg. For more information about the A35’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
True to its AMG branding, the A35’s cabin has some sporty touches. The steering wheel comes wrapped in perforated leather and features paddles for manual control of the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A 64-color ambient-light system complete with backlit center vents comes standard this year, giving every A35 a night-club vibe. If you want a little more luxury, Mercedes offers real wood in place of the standard aluminum trim as well as leather upholstery. As the smallest of AMG’s models, the A-class will undoubtedly be a tight fit for some, but we find its rear seat accommodates most people reasonably well. As for cargo room, this Merc—with nine cubic feet of trunk space—falls short of the Audi S3 and BMW 2-series Gran Coupe, which boast 10 and 15 cubes, respectively. Though we’ve yet to measure the A35’s practical storage, in the identically sized A220, we managed to fit five carry-on suitcases in the trunk and 15 with the seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Similar to other Mercedes models, the A35 features a widescreen display consisting of two LCD monitors—one for the gauges and another for the infotainment system—under one long piece of glass stretching much of the way across the dashboard. Drivers can control the MBUX infotainment system by fiddling with the steering-wheel buttons, using the touchpad on the center console, tapping the screen, or providing voice commands. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration comes standard, but satellite radio will costs extra. Mercedes provides five USB-C ports throughout the cabin plus an eight-speaker stereo. However, there’s an optional 12-speaker Burmester sound system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Apart from some standard driver assists, most active safety technology costs extra. For more information about the A35’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Mercedes doesn’t go beyond the norm when it comes to warranty coverage, matching the four-year or 50,000-mile plans offered by Audi and BMW. That said, those other German luxury brands provide at least some form of included scheduled maintenance. Mercedes does not.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Mercedes-AMG A35
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$52,705 (base price: $45,945)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
122 in3, 1991 cm3
302 hp @ 5800 rpm
295 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.8-in vented, cross-drilled disc/12.9-in vented, cross-drilled disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, 235/35ZR-19 (91Y) MO1
Wheelbase: 107.4 in
Length: 179.4 in
Width: 70.7 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 93 ft3
Trunk volume: 9 ft3
Curb weight: 3513 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.3 sec
100 mph: 11.0 sec
130 mph: 20.0 sec
150 mph: 31.8 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.1 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.6 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.6 sec
1/4 mile: 12.9 sec @ 107 mph
Top speed (mfr’s claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 313 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.99 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 23 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 34 mpg
Highway range: 450 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 27/24/31 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs