Premium hot hatch fun
Entry level and high performance are two adjectives that rarely go together in the same sentence, but they do when talking about the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC.
“Ever since we announced the introduction of the A-Class to the Canadian product portfolio, many have been anxiously awaiting news of an AMG variant,” say Brian Fulton, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada, in a press release. “Canadians love performance vehicles. In fact, one out of every four vehicles we sell is an AMG. With the A 35 hatch and sedan we [are expanding] our AMG line-up even further and offer exciting performance driving in the compact class.”
As mentioned above, there’s both a hatchback and sedan available and Darpan took out the former to evaluate the brand’s foray into premium hot hatch territory.
Although it’s the lowest rung on the AMG ladder, the A 35 still looks the part with motorsport-inspired styling. Just look at the signature twin-blade mesh grille, matching bladed lower front bumper air intakes, factory body aero, split-spoke 18-inch black and chrome alloy wheels, roof spoiler and dual exhaust tips.
Similarly, a mixture of made-in-Italy vegan red-stitched leather and suede, as well as brushed aluminum, on interior surfaces gives the cabin an air of sophistication and sportiness. The ultra-widescreen combined instrument cluster and MBUX infotainment display is truly stunning, and needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. A large touchpad and palm rest ahead of the centre console provide a handsome and ergonomic way to surf the menus.
Also quite remarkable is the amount of output Mercedes-AMG has managed to extract from a rather modest 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor: 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The car is quick on its feet, able to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, aided by a super quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Drivers can take over the gear change duties anytime by tugging on one of the two steering wheel paddles.
Unfortunately, the A 35’s impressive get-up-and-go is mostly felt only and not heard, as there’s no dynamic exhaust found to unleash a hearty rumble at the push of a button like on siblings the CLA 45 or C 63.
An AMG Performance version of the automaker’s proprietary 4MATIC all-wheel drive is standard. The variable system can favour the front axle completely, or split 50:50 with the rear, and automatically determines torque distribution based on the current acceleration, steering angle, rotational speed of each individual corner and more. Even in rainy Vancouver weather, 4MATIC gave me the confidence to go about business on the road as usual.
Sitting on AMG Sports Suspension, comprised of McPherson front struts and multi-link rear setup, the A 35 does a good job of keeping the vehicle planted during high speed cornering manoeuvres, but really leaves something to be desired in the comfort department — to say the ride is stiff would be an understatement. Adding the optional AMG Ride Control that has adjustable damping may be the way to go here. The price for all this high performance five door fun? A starting MSRP of $49,800.
Motor: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 302 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 295 @ 3,000 rpm
Gearbox: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 12.5 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)
Photos: MERCEDES pressroom