The Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan is a more mature option than its hatchback sibling. Is that a good thing?
The Mercedes-AMG A35 range now has both hatchback and sedan body shapes to choose from. The new sedan model sits at the top of the A-Class sedan line-up as the most hardcore and more luxurious three-box compact from the German company's tuning house in Affalterbach.
If you want a Mercedes-AMG A45 sedan, you’re dead out of luck - there isn’t going to be one. Your alternatives are the sleeker, more style-focused CLA 45 four-door ‘coupe’, or the A45 hatch, which is more often associated with boy racer types… with deep pockets.
Or you could buy this car - the Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic sedan. A lot of pundits have questioned the two-prong AMG strategy in the hatchback range, with the A35 slotting between the already-pretty-hot A250 4Matic and A45 S.
In the sedan line-up, however, there’s a different approach, with the Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic topping the range. So is it a fitting flagship for the small sedan line-up? It certainly has the tech, safety and equipment levels to live up to buyers’ expectations.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10
The Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic sedan has a list price of $72,500, which is the manufacturer’s recommended list price (MRLP, also known as MSRP). That’s the price before on-road costs and extras.
The Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic sedan has a list price of $72,500.
What cars does the A35 compete with? The most obvious rival is one from within, the Mercedes-AMG CLA35, which is $85,500. Then there’s the Audi S3 sedan ($65,800) or RS3 sedan ($86,500). Or the BMW M235i Gran Coupe, which is actually its closest competitor on price, at $72,990.
You might have made your mind up about wanting the three-pointed-star badge though, so what do you get for your cash when it comes to the A35 sedan?
The standard equipment includes: 19-inch wheels, AMG body kit and 'Night Package' (blacked-out exterior trim), Lugano leather seat trim, heated and electric adjust front seats, keyless entry and push-button start, adaptive AMG Ride Control suspension, AMG drive modes, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof.
Other features include an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights and daytime running lights, semi-autonomous parking, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a number of active safety items beyond that. See the safety section below for more info.
Our car had a couple of options, including: black-finish 19-inch alloy wheels ($790); the 'Driving Assistance Package' - incorporating adaptive cruise control with front and rear cross-traffic alert, active lane-change assist, and 'Route-Based Speed Adaptation' - more on that below ($1890); the 'Vision Package' - with 'Multibeam LED' headlights and selective adaptive high beam assist, and a 360-degree surround view camera ($990); and the 'AMG Aerodynamics Package' - with front flics, side skirt trims, rear spoiler and rear diffuser ($2490).
You'll get heated and electric adjust front seats.
All told, the as-tested price for this car was $78,660 plus on-roads.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
This is the first AMG A-Class sedan ever, so that’s an interesting design decision. I wasn’t sure whether Mercedes needed a CLA ‘Coupe’ and an A-Class sedan to sit alongside one another, but there are distinct differences in terms of the look and intent of the two compact models.
This is the first AMG A-Class sedan ever, so that’s an interesting design decision.
The A sedan carries over the A-Class hatchback’s aggressive styling, with sharp, angular headlights, a strong presence courtesy of its black exterior highlights (including AMG flics on the front bumper and black side skirts, rear spoiler and rear diffuser for this test vehicle). The black 19-inch black-finish rims fitted to our test car are also optional, with silver being the standard finish.
It has a stumpy little boot with a broad stance thanks to its triangulated tail-lights and horizontal reflectors, while the twin exhaust pipes with black tips are rather pleasant to look at, too.
It’s a very attractive sedan, with nothing clumsy about its proportions at all. Is it gorgeous enough to make you think twice about the Audi A3/S3/RS3 as the ruler of the pretty little sedan? Maybe… it’s not quite there for me, although it’s close. But it is certainly a distinct design, one that Merc fans will undoubtedly adore.
The black 19-inch black-finish rims fitted to our test car are also optional, with silver being the standard finish.
The dimensions of the A35 sedan aren’t what a lot of people would actually consider “small”. It’s 4549mm long (on a 2729mm wheelbase), 1796mm wide and 1446mm tall. For context, that’s longer, wider and taller than the substantial Mazda3 small sedan, if not quite as big as the a Corolla sedan.
And if you’re wondering about how that compares to a CLA, that car has the same wheelbase but is 4688mm long, 1830mm wide and 1439mm tall. That’s bigger than a C-Class. Gosh, how confusing.
What does it all mean when it comes to interior space? Check out the interior images and details below to see for yourself.
How practical is the space inside? 7/10
I admit, I thought I’d get a bit more in the cabin of the A35 sedan. There’s no electric steering wheel adjustment, no heated steering wheel, and the fact adaptive cruise control is optional (it’s standard on some $25K cars!) is a bit rude, too.
That isn’t to say that it’s not an eye-catching space, one that will hit hard on the bling-o-meter, and will definitely impress anyone who isn’t familiar with Mercedes’ recent cabin design traits.
The twin screens are dazzling - crisp and beautiful to behold, and with graphics that are extremely high resolution. The menus have been designed to be simple, but honestly, it’s a bit confusing until you’re initiated.
I found the media screen to be very glitchy.
Also, I found the media screen to be very glitchy. On multiple occasions it would not respond to touch, and once it even reset itself. I also had several problems connecting to Apple CarPlay. Note: I was using a Mercedes-Benz USB-C adaptor to USB-Lightning cable with an iPhone XS, and I think maybe the adaptor had a part to play in the problems I encountered.
The touchscreen is just one way to interact with the media controls, as there’s a touchpad between the front seats, and the driver has a thumb-controller on the steering wheel to jump between screens. And there’s voice control as well, with the MBUX system’s ‘Hey, Mercedes’ recognition allowing you to ask for things to be adjusted.
Furthering the wow-factor up front are beautifully designed air vents that light up blue when you turn the temperature down or red when you up the heat. There’s configurable ambient lighting for the cabin, which makes the A35 a bit of a showstopper at night, and our car had the no-cost optional red and black Lugano leather trim, which is either going to be your thing, or not.
The space for adults up front is decently accommodating, with good headroom and width, plus nice soft touch points where there should be, and there are bottle holders in the doors. There are three USB-C points up front, a pair of cup holders between the seats, and a wireless (Qi) phone charging bay.
The space for adults up front is decently accommodating, with good headroom and width.
The steering wheel is a nice shape and easy to hold, though I’m still not convinced by the little digital displays for the drive-mode dials - they’re toy-like teeny-weeny screens and look a bit pixelated compared to the other displays in the cabin.
Rear seat space is not as good as you might hope or expect, given the size of the car. As a 182cm (6.0ft) man with the driver’s seat set for me, my knees were hard against the seat in front, my toes were squashed and my head was just brushing the headliner, too.
That mightn’t be a problem for you - maybe your only rear seat riders will be short, or young. There are dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and three top-tether restraints for baby seats, if that’s the case.
Rear seat space is not as good as you might hope or expect, given the size of the car.
And they’ll be well catered for, with a pair of USB-C ports, as well as directional air-vents, mesh map pockets, and bottle holders in the doors as well as a fold-down armrest with pop out cup holders.
Boot space will likely matter to you if you’re buying a sedan over the hatchback model, and you’ll find an additional 60 litres of boot space here over the five-door model, with 430L of cargo capacity.
There's an additional 60 litres of boot space here over the five-door model, with 430L of cargo capacity.
In theory it should be large enough to fit all three of the CarsGuide cases, but the shape of the cargo hold meant I only managed to fit the smallest case with the middle or largest case, but not all three together.
That should, in theory, be large enough to fit all three of the CarsGuide cases (124L, 95L, 36L), but the shape of the cargo hold meant I only managed to fit the smallest case with the middle or largest case, but not all three together. Soft luggage could help.
There’s no spare wheel under the boot floor, as the A35 has a tyre repair kit.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 9/10
You could look at this one of two ways: 1) this is the least powerful AMG on sale today; 2) this is a seriously powerful small car.
If you’re glass-half-full-biased like me, you’ll see the engine specs and park yourself in the latter camp.
The grunt numbers give the AMG A35 sedan a claimed 0-100km/h time of just 4.8 seconds.
There’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol motor which isn’t short on horsepower: it has 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque - those were class-killing power outputs not too long ago.
The grunt numbers give the AMG A35 sedan a claimed 0-100km/h time of just 4.8 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 250km/h. Five years ago these power figures and performance numbers would have pegged the A35 in A45 territory - this is a seriously powerful little jigger.
I saw a little higher than that over my 650km of driving, which was heavily biased towards highway testing, but also included a few traffic snarls and a couple of stints of performance testing. I saw 8.4L/100km, which is okay, but I expected better given 80 per cent of my time in the car was in easy-going open road driving.
The fuel tank capacity for the A35 sedan is 51 litres, and you’ll need to fill it with 98 RON premium unleaded petrol.
What's it like to drive? 8/10
On paper this seems like the ideal option for those who know they’ll never really be able to take advantage of the outputs of an A45 or CLA45’s ludicrous power and torque figures.
In practice? It mostly lives up to that notion - though just like an A45 or CLA45, you’re going to enjoy it a lot more when you’re giving it the beans.
The steering is superb for an all-wheel drive car, it’s direct and accurate.
Driving with intent, the engine and transmission work together amazingly well. The transmission itself is thoughtful and smart shifting, swapping cogs exactly when you think it should - while you have paddle shifters available to use, in most cases you’re not going to need them.
The engine itself is an absolute weapon. There’s lots and lots of pulling power, it’s linear in the way it delivers its power, and there’s a little bit of pop and crackle from the exhaust - personally, I would like even more. I guess that’s where an A45 or CLA45 comes into its own.
The steering is superb for an all-wheel drive car, too. It’s direct and accurate, and while you can feel the electronics shuffling the power and torque between front and rear axles it’s a really nicely balanced and very easy car to drive fast – at times even faster than you really should be.
In Sport mode and Sport Plus mode the suspension and steering are tightened up, with taut responses but the suspension is never crunchy or uncomfortable. Braking performance is very good, too.
In Comfort mode though, I struggled to come to terms with the A35 a little. In my mind, it lived up to the notion of a sporty sedan a lot more readily than it did that of a compact luxury sedan. It just feels like it’s meant to be on a twisty road, not dealing with daily drudgery in commuting.
One not-very-luxurious element was the road noise intrusion, which was the worst of any new car I can recall experiencing. That might seem a dramatic claim, but the booming tyre roar on coarse chip road surfaces, including major Sydney freeways, was verging on unbearable. I measured it on my smartphone, and 78 decibels was the maximum readout.
And while very impressive under pressure, the powertrain is somewhat doughy in less demanding situations. There’s some lag to contend with, and a little bit of lunging from the transmission, too. However, it was during downshifts that I found the transmission’s behaviour most questionable, with some shift-shunts when slowing to a halt in urban driving.
There's two 10.25-inch screens including the configurable display for driver info.
One unexpected finding was the 'Route-Based Speed Adaptation' system’s behaviour, which was active in the car I was driving. The tech uses the car’s mapped position to guide its adaptive cruise control behaviour. In theory it’s a very smart idea - the car will slow itself down if it predicts you’re about to approach a tight bend and you’ve got it set at the speed limit. Or if you’re approaching a roundabout, it’ll think ahead, too.
But during my time in the car, I had an issue that I found could be potentially dangerous. Having set the speed at 80km/h in a relatively new tunnel in Sydney’s west (the WestConnex M4, opened July, 2019), the system couldn’t place the car’s location, which meant the car believed it was still on surface streets.
On multiple occasions the car slowed dramatically thinking I needed to turn a corner that didn’t exist on the road I was driving on. My instant thought was: “What if the person behind me wasn’t looking at the road ahead?” I’ve seen enough drivers with their eyes aimed at the phone in their lap and not the road ahead, to know this is a distinct possibility.
There’s also a risk from tailgating trucks, which seem to be more prevalent in Sydney’s west than anywhere else on the planet. It’s a potential risk, even if the Benz has clever tech that can flash the tail-lights if the car’s systems predict there’s a chance of being rear-ended.
Mercedes-Benz’s Aussie team let me know that the map software wasn’t up to date, which is why the car didn’t understand the situation. It’s technology you can disable by simply delving into the menus on the MBUX system, but I’d recommend you try it out to see if you’re comfortable with it.
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / unlimited km
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
The A-Class range was awarded the full five-star ANCAP crash test rating based on 2018 criteria, and the scoring measures have progressed since then. According to ANCAP, the rating applies to all Mercedes Benz A-Class variants, though the Mercedes-AMG A35 (hatch and sedan) and A45 (hatch) are not shown on the scorecard.
A reversing camera is standard.
You can option a 360-degree surround view camera ($990).
However, the entire A-Class range comes with auto emergency braking (AEB) that operates between 7-200km/h and has pedestrian and cyclist detection (7-50km/h), active lane keep assist (LKAS, 0-250km/h) and lane departure warning (LDW), traffic sign recognition (TSR), and blind spot monitoring (BSM) and rear cross traffic alert (RCTA) with auto-braking. There’s also driver fatigue monitoring, cruise control with speed limiter, and speed sign recognition.
But despite being the top-of-the-range A-Class sedan, you still have to pay extra for the safety of front cross traffic alert with braking, and the brand’s Distronic adaptive cruise control system. Those are part of the Driving Assistance Package ($1890), which also incorporates active blind spot assist, active lane change assist, a system called Evasive Steering Assist (which sharpens up the steering to be more direct if a crash threat is predicted), and the aforementioned Route-Based Speed Adaptation.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 9/10
Service intervals for the A35 sedan are set every 12 months/25,000km - yes, that’s a generous maintenance schedule, as most cars require servicing every 15,000km.
Buyers can opt to pre-pay servicing costs and roll it into their finance package, and there’s a level of discount applied if you do that.
For a three-year/75,000km service plan, you’ll pay $2150, saving you $500 over pay-as-you-go capped price servicing. There’s also a four-year/100,000km plan ($2950) or a five-year/125,000km plan ($4000). That’s surprisingly decent for a luxury car, though keep in mind it doesn’t include wiper inserts or brake pads/discs.
Buyers get roadside assistance included for the duration of the new-car warranty, too.
The Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan is a genuinely fun small car. To me it’s a more mature offering than the A35 hatch, while not being quite as pretentious as a CLA35. Therefore I like it on principle.
Would I personally choose it over an Audi S3? Probably not - but there are plenty of objective reasons why you would.
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