Road Test Review – 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC – A35 AMG Leaves Our Shores With A Bang

Mercedes-Benz and their AMG sub-brand are on a quest to lure in more customers thanks in part to a revamped model lineup and some new thinking in the way they promote their models. Unfortunately, part of this new thinking involves some shuffling in the lineup with Mercedes axing the A35 AMG from our shores in the process of writing this review. What will we miss out on with the model gone from our shores?


Spunky Character Defines A35 Formula

For starters, we’ll no longer get to see the A35’s design-focused personality. The standard A-Class already has some impressive design chops, with Mercedes designers attempting to make the smallest sedan in the family youthful and modern. The A35 ratchets up the fun factor a bit, and while it might not look like alot was done at first glance, look closer, and some of the changes do begin to take shape. The rear of the car features a larger diffuser bundled with a tidy set of dual exhaust tips.

The front fascia also comes with its suite of tweaks, and it helps the car look meaner and more sculpted. At the same time, the changes here are not as extensive as the ones that we typically see on bigger and more expensive AMG models. Our tester tried to deviate from the norm with two styling packages. One replaces alot of the shiny chrome with black accents, while the second one tweaks the car’s aerodynamics slightly. However, the transformation is still subtle even with these two packages in place, and that will please buyers looking for performance but don’t want to broadcast it to the neighborhood either.


Pint-Sized AMG Charm Struggles To Be Heard Over A35’s Brittle Ride

As expected from a proper AMG product, The A35 comes with several touches that make it stand out from its lesser siblings. The stock steering wheel is wrapped in fully perforated leather, but our tester had an optional wheel that adds DINAMICA inserts to select spots. In contrast, the Alcantara/leather sport seats did an excellent job of holding us firmly in place during spirited driving.

The car even adds a 64 color lighting system that made our tester feel like a trendy Metro Detroit nightclub. But look past the light show, and some of the inner flaws of the interior do make their presence known. The A35 is a small car, and that fact of life makes the rear seats tight for adults, while the built-in charging ports are for Apple phones only. Android users have to plug their phone into a separate adaptor before linking to the car but here’s hoping that someday Mercedes will make ports that can seamlessly support both phone types.

Our tester also arrived with the optional Burmester Surround Sound system, which sounded great but failed to prevent us from noticing the loud tire roar and road noise that penetrates the cabin of the A35 at speed. But for buyers that will use the back seats as glorified cargo shelves (or add to the trunk floor when folded), the front seats are very desirable pieces of real estate and help the A35 AMG be an attractive four-door option with coupe-ish intentions.


Firecracker Of An Engine Saves The Day

Lurking under the hood of the A35 AMG is a spiced-up version of the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that sees duty in the A220. However, AMG’s version now produces 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque which allowed our tester to make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds before reaching the obligatory top speed of 155 mph. That’s not bad for a 3,513 lb car, but it’s a shame that when it comes time to bring things to a halt, the transmission has noticeably clunky downshifts that jar their way into the cabin.

Our tester arrived with the optional AMG Ride Control air suspension. While it does make a noticeable difference in handling versus the stock set of springs, it still can’t entirely mute harsh impacts, especially when going over pockmarked sections of tarmac. That’s even when the dampers are set in cushy Comfort mode, which is a reminder of just how dialed in this particular AMG model is.

With the A35 AMG officially axed from our shores, buyers looking to sample the 2.0 liter’s charms will have to go to either the GLA 35 SUV or the pricier CLA 35. The latter also brings more power to the mix in 45 spec with the four-cylinder in this model producing 382 hp. With the A35’s departure, the segment is now down to the Cadillac CT4 V-Series, The Audi S3, and the BMW M240i xDrive. The Cadillac has the most cylinders of the bunch. Still, it also loses out to both the Audi and the BMW in refinement and execution (the range-topping Blackwing model is the lone exception). At the same time, the Audi and the BMW largely follow the typical German sport sedan formula right down to their reworked four-cylinder engines.


The A35 AMG, Farewell Friend You’ll Be Missed

With Mercedes-Benz formally axing the A35 AMG from our shores before this review made it to print, we’ll not be doing a formal value quotient section for this model. However, some Mercedes dealers might have an A35 lurking in their inventory, and if that’s the case, you’ll be greeted with a base price of $45,850. Our loaded tester came bundled with optional extras, which caused the price to balloon to a whopping $56,020.

That’s a huge ask for a car that barely makes over 300 hp. Still, suppose you’re fortunate enough to find one that tosses alot of the frills for options that focus on improving its performance character (like the $990 air suspension). In that case, you will be rewarded with a unique Mercedes that packs alot of firepower into a compact package that will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows when its potential as a sleeper is unleashed.