Mercedes’ AMG A35 is a treat on wheels
The vehicle offers sharper handling, a richer cabin and more kit, plus better performance
The A35 sedan packs a whopping 306 hp turbo-petrol engine, all-wheel drive and a number of suspension and chassis upgrades over the regular A-Class Limo to make it sportier. So, what is it like?
Starting with the engine, this 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine is a development of Merc’s M260 unit, and it uses a twin-scroll turbocharger to boost torque at low speeds. Power is sent to all four wheels via Merc’s own 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the four-wheel-drive system allows up to 50% of the power to be sent to the rear.
The A35 even gets uprated suspension components to help deal with the power better. Up front, it now gets the addition of a lower wishbone along with a custom strut brace used to enhance stiffness, and the shell of the car even gets underfloor stiffening. At the rear, AMG uses a new subframe to stiffen up the rear suspension mounting points.
All these upgrades certainly make a massive difference to the driving experience. The steering feels beautifully weighted, very direct and delivers a fair amount of connect. There is plenty of grip, the nose is keen to change direction and with the four tyres turning and clawing in, it even inspires confidence over wet patches.
You cannot really tell when the rear axle chips in, or if it does at all, but it does manage to feel quite neutral and balanced. The body control is very good, with the A35 feeling well poised even when you hurl it around.
Plenty of energy
Prod the throttle and responses are immediate, sharp and wonderfully addictive; keep your foot in and the tacho needle climbs with plenty of energy. In fact, flatten the accelerator in second or third, with the engine spinning at around 3,000 rpm, and the A35 will leave you grinning.
Throttle responses aren’t as feral as the full blown V8, but this is still deeply addictive. Even flat-out performance is strong; we managed to record 0-100 kph in 5.6 sec without the use of launch control. The A35 is also a great tool for fast highway commutes; the stability is great, the brakes have a good amount of bite, and the twin-clutch gearbox works well.
In fact, the gearbox works particularly well when you are ‘on it’ — it shifts up crisply and it allows downshifts even when you are high up in the powerband. The gearbox, however, does pause and feel grabby at low speeds.
The A35’s adaptive AMG suspension also rounds off bumps on the road nicely, although larger bumps do catch it out occasionally; the short-travel suspension is not ideal.
Coming to the styling, Mercedes has given the A35 sedan flowing lines and spot-on proportions. On the inside, the A35 gets plenty of typical AMG touches — very supportive sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium sport pedals, and AMG-specific graphics for the digital instrument panel. What lifts the ambience considerably is the colour-matching ambient lighting in yellow.
Rear passengers also get a lot more space and comfort than the earlier CLA. Legroom is much improved, headroom is good for regular-sized passengers, and though you are seated a bit low, the rear seat isn’t uncomfortable for two, even over long-ish journeys. The boot isn’t too large at 420 litres, but it will carry a weekend’s worth of bags quite easily or swallow three large suitcases.
Launched at ₹56.24 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the locally assembled AMG A35 is clearly more expensive than the stock models, but then it delivers much more car as well. A lot more performance, sharper handling, a richer cabin, more kit and, not to be dismissed, the look of a higher-end AMG performance car.
The A35 isn’t as exciting as a C63 and it won’t be as practical on an everyday basis as something like a C-Class. Still, if you want the best of both worlds, the charming and fun-to-drive A35 certainly hits the spot.
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