REVIEW | 2020 Mercedes-AMG A35 is swift and sensible
At a more than R270,000 saving over the flagship A45 S, the A35 still offers compelling performance
The Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan is the second of five new AMG cars in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class range that we’ve reviewed, the other being the A45 S hatch which is a 310kW flaming ball that costs R1.1m.
The A35, priced at R883,000, follows the same mechanical formula of a four-cylinder petrol turbo engine and 4Matic all-wheel drive but instead packs a lesser 220kW and 400Nm of torque from its 2.0l engine, and it’s paired to a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
In standard trim it looks typical Merc classy but you can spice up the looks with the optional Aero Pack of more menacing styling elements on the front bumper, blackened wheels and a prominent boot spoiler.
It’s especially easy to launch this car off the line. You need only step hard on the brake, press the throttle and when ready — release! This sequence invokes banging up-changes on its dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It leaps out of the starting blocks to dispatch a respectable 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds (vs 4.1 seconds for the A45 S hatchback) and top speed of 250km/h; competitive enough urge to worry segment rivals that consist of the BMW M235i Gran Coupe and the Audi S3 sedan.
With that said, the A35 doesn’t quite pivot around bends with the same planted exuberance as its Limited-slip diff equipped A45S cousin. Its cornering feels more of a front end task but with little understeer waywardness.
Body control is very good, with little lean or roll while the chassis feels it can handle a more punishing, ragged type of driving style because there's so much traction.
Remember the A35 skeleton is the old A45 with less power and a prettier face so you can really nail it in most situations and it now feels the kind of luxury and bashful junior AMG we wished for in the previous generation car.
The lower power also means it liberates you from thinking about big repayments and huge fuel and maintenance bills.
Comfort and convenience items can be had if you specify the amenities but you’ll have to fork out more for certain items that I felt should have been standard fare at its price point, starting with the optional adaptive suspension with a comfort mode fitted to the test car.
The suspension refinement to be had here offers a good balance between Mercedes cushiness and noticeable but nonintrusive AMG tautness. It represents the ethos of both subdivisions very well even on the inside, where the styling and eye-catching turbine air vents that light up with the spectre of its colourful digital interface and the mood lighting mixes well with good ergonomics and a sporty AMG steering wheel.
A panoramic sunroof, keyless access, the earlier mentioned adaptive chassis and park distance control with a rear-view camera are some of paid-for extras found in my test car that add to the elegance.
Despite the lack of some key standard items it scores big in that it comes with an inconspicuous raucousness and everyday usability. Keep it civil on the roads and it’ll pamper you with a cool highway driving demeanour while returning 8.5l/100km.
It also has 370l of boot that extends to 1,210l with the seats down; a relatively approachable price and it isn't that much slower than its 45S cousin. It’s a genuinely likeable car.
Type: Four-cylinder petrol
Type: Seven-speed auto
Type: 4MATIC all-wheel drive
Top speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 4.7 sec (as claimed) 5.14 sec (as tested)
Fuel Consumption: 7.4l/100km (as claimed), 8.5l/100km (as tested)
Stability and traction control, EBD, brake assist, seven airbags, auto on/off xenon lights, high beam assist, daytime driving running lights cruise control, folding exterior mirrors, keyless start, auxiliary input, USB, Bluetooth, rain sensor wipers, air conditioning, climate control and suede-cloth and artificial leather upholstery
Warranty: Two years/unlimited km
Maintenance plan distance: Five years/100,000km
Lease*: R18,855 a month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan
WE LIKE: Refinement, performance
WE DISLIKE: Too few standard features
VERDICT: A fine little executive rocket
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BMW M235i Gran Coupe, 225kW/450Nm — R795,864
Audi S3 sedan Quattro, 228kW/400Nm — R782,189