Why would I buy it?
- Strong, usable performance
- Handling and grip
Why would I avoid it?
- Low ground clearance
- Limited visibility
Engine and Performance
For starters, it’s obvious that this 301bhp/400Nm 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine isn’t entirely in the league of other thoroughbred AMG mills. And yet, here it is adorning an AMG badge. Would you hazard a guess? Well, as much as this motor can be spectacular under pedal-to-metal situations (which we’ll get to soon), the A35 is surprisingly friendly when you’re pottering around in the city. A split personality that helps!
And as one progresses to give it the stick, the sleeper 301 horses gallop out of nowhere to give you some scintillating performance. Using launch control, 100kmph comes up in a shattering 4.98 seconds! And as you’d expect, triple-digit speeds are achieved inadvertently. But only if its turbocharger is on boost, and if the revs fall beyond its reach, a downshift or two will be the need of the hour to avoid the relentless pause. Thankfully the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is a refined one that works extremely well to mask the turbo lag.
As for the drive modes, we’d pick Sport+ if in a hurry owing to the blisteringly quick but jerky gear shifts. But who cares, right? At the same time, for the roaming/chore duties, sticking to Comfort mode makes sense so that the powertrain can go about its duties in the least stressful manner. Honestly, though, the A35 AMG’s low stance with its small glass area along with the beautifully crafted but restrictive door mirrors can make it a handful to drive in the city. Citing this, the carmaker has smartly lodged proximity sensors all over, along with a high-definition rear-view camera.
Ride Quality and Handling
Ride quality wise, the 18-inch wheels with low profile tyres, coupled to AMG’s stiffly sprung suspension isn’t a great concoction for those who have a bad back. But where the A35 crawls back is in its offering of adaptive damping as standard. In Comfort mode, although the ride quality is quite forgiving, one needs to keep an eye out for larger bumps and potholes due to the short travel dampers and the low 160mm ground clearance. Ideally, restricting this mode to slower speeds is advised unless you’d want to experience a lot of movement.
In Sport+, with a very little giveaway, one needs to be careful while climbing speed breakers to avoid scraping its belly (more so with rear occupants on-board). On the flipside, feed it a flat stretch of tarmac and the A35 remains exceptionally planted at higher speeds; noisy tyres notwithstanding. It’s in the handling department where my head starts spinning; the A35 feels neutral and beautifully poised, especially around tight bends. The chassis balance is brilliant owing partially to how effectively AMG’s variable all-wheel-drive system distributes power to all the wheels.
Fittingly, it’s easy to get carried away like we did, more so with the impressively assisted steering that’s exceptionally progressive/direct. But what kept us on the road are the bunch of electronic aids which markedly controlled the understeer/outcome.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
One knows what to expect from an AMG interior. There are the embracing sports seats, drilled aluminium pedals, bright red seatbelts, besides the regular loads of chrome, and an overload of digital info. And there are more intricate this, due to the beautifully crafted materials such as brushed aluminium trim, contrast seams, Nappa leather, stainless-steel AMG door sills, and high-quality glossy plastics. What doesn’t fit here is the steering design which looks more apt for the luxury sedan/SUV kind.
But yes, with numerous adjustments for both the driver’s seat and the steering column, finding a driving position that’s spot on is effortless. Apart from this, the cabin is similar to an A-Class’ which essentially means it’s a bit short on space. Now, although the seats themselves are rather supportive in every manner possible, there’s not much space as such at the rear; something’s that’s more pronounced by the sloping roofline. Dampening the experience even further are the tiny windows and all-black cabin materials that can get claustrophobic for most.
Features-wise, you get the brilliant new MBUX infotainment system, twin digital displays that are high on clarity and fluidity, a high-end Burmester surround sound system with wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility, adaptive AMG suspension, 18-inch AMG wheels, wireless charging, ambient lighting, Nappa leather and electric front seats.
In terms of safety, the AMG A35 is equipped with adaptive LED headlamps, several airbags, ABS, lots of stability assist functions, and speed warning chimes. You also get active brake assist which alerts the driver if it senses that a collision is imminent, and also applies the brakes eventually if no braking input is received from the driver.
At first glance, the AMG A35 looks like a cutesy sedan owing to the relatively compact dimensions. But it goes without saying that in this hot yellow shade with the hunkered-down stance and huge wheels, there’s an intensely mature performance-related oomph that stacks up heavily on its aura. An absolute head-turner on every count!
The only real drawback with the Mercedes A35 AMG other than it being tight on space, is that the motor does not live up to the brute ‘AMG’ nomenclature. Don’t get us wrong, it is plenty fast, but it’s more of the tamer kind so to say. Other than that, it is a very convincing buy even at the Rs 67 lakh (OTR Mumbai) price tag because it certainly looks expensive too. Plus, it works fine as an everyday performance car; fast, loads of fun, and adequately comfy for four occupants. Well, there it is, plain as day!
Pictures by Kapil Angane