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Performance compact, not vice versa

S. Muralidhar | Updated on May 06, 2021

A 35 AMG is a compact sedan and AMG engineers have had to strengthen the chassis to handle extra flex needed for driving it on the edge   -  S.Muralidhar

AMG performance version hints can be seen in the rear diffuser and spoiler   -  S.Muralidhar

Dual screen display on dashboard for infotainment and instrument cluster gets AMG-specific readouts   -  S. Muralidhar

Merc’s A 35 AMG proves that small can still be fun in the world of sports cars

The affordable supercar is like an oxymoron. Actually, that should have been in the past tense; back when there were the clearly defined haves and the have-nots — I mean those that could own a set of fast wheels. Now, with new markets, recently minted millionaires, many younger buyers and the age of instant gratification upon us, the market for supercars is much more diverse and complex.

There are smaller, more affordable sports and performance cars (can’t call them compact supercars) today. While they won’t quite offer you the same thrill of driving a Ferrari or a Porsche, they can certainly be listed as exciting first entries into the world of fast cars. The Mercedes-AMG A 35 certainly fits that description. Though it features a 4-cylinder and ranks lower down in the pecking order for a car that was developed by the famed Merc high performance division based out of Affalterbach near Stuttgart, it is still a powerhouse. It can summon 306 horses at the edge, takes 4.8 seconds to 100 kmph and offers a host of performance tech that only its larger siblings have been bragging about in the past.

Design

Blunt-nosed and with a coupe-like stubby boot, the A sedan’s side profile gives you the impression of it being a compact, yet roomy car. Classic Mercedes lines cut across the major body panels and there is not much of a giveaway that this was essentially designed to be a hatch. A lot of the design language, especially the smaller elements have been adopted into Merc’s bigger cars too, after the A. We had reviewed the A 35 limousine a few weeks earlier, and the high performance A 35 AMG’s exterior design is largely the same. But there are clear markers to identify that this is special. The bonnet grille features twin louvres with the AMG logo on one side. The AMG styled front fender sports what Merc calls ‘flics’ in the air intakes and just before the front wheel arches, it also gets vents that confirm that this is an AMG. The 18-inch AMG spoke alloys and their AMG brake calipers add to the sporty looks.

My test mule didn’t sport the bright yellow body colour that is offered as an option for an additional price. More hints that this is the performance version of the A Class sedan which comes in the form of the rear spoiler on the boot lid, the black rear diffuser and the large exhaust pipe ends. The A 35 AMG gets adaptive LED tail-lamps too.

Cabin

The A 35 AMG’s cabin is also similar to the regular A sedan in terms of overall design and layout. It shares many of the features too. Of course, there are enough special bits that have been brought in to deliver that ‘sporty’ impact. Drilled aluminium pedals, a nappa leather clad, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, AMG sports seats with red contrast stitching and ambient lighting with the option of colour matching the body paint. The classy Merc signature aircraft turbine style aircon vents add to the cabin’s appeal. The dual screen display on the dashboard for infotainment and the instrument cluster gets AMG specific readouts.

The A 35 AMG also gets the 12-speaker Burmester surround sound music system as part of the package.

Performance

Unlike the even more touched-in-the-head A 45 AMG (the hatch may come to India), the A 35 AMG 4MATIC’s 4-cylinder, 2-litre turbocharged engine puts out a relatively more manageable 306 hp of peak power. The 1,991 cc petrol engine features an exhaust gas turbocharger and offers a maximum torque of 400 Nm. The engine’s output is fed to the wheels via the AMG Speedshift 7G dual-clutch transmission, and the power can be split equally between the two axles, thanks to the 4MATIC variable all-wheel drive system.

The A 35 AMG is a compact sedan and not heavy either, and AMG engineers have had to strengthen the chassis to handle extra flex needed for driving it on the edge. The powertrain simply surprises me with its sheer acceleration and ability to put down the power to the grippy 235/40 ZR18 Continental tyres.

It is seriously quick for a 4-cylinder, and the gearbox is equally eager to upshift or downshift when prodded with the steering-mounted paddles. Four drive modes are available to explore including Sport and Sport+. Partial ignition cut-off during upshifts and rev-matched downshifts keeps the excitement on at high speeds. The A 35 AMG also takes corners very well.

Bottom Line

The A 35 AMG is still as practical as its less powerful variants. Lots of headroom at the rear, a useful 420-litre boot and the everyday practicality of a compact sedan in crowded conditions with the additional help of an active park assist.

It is focused on high speed performance, and yet, it can offer an engaging drive even while staying within the speed limits. The A 35 AMG is offered with an excellent service and warranty package. Offered currently in one loaded trim, the A 35 AMG is priced at ₹56.24 lakh (ex-showroom).

Published on May 06, 2021

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