2021 Mercedes-AMG A35

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2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Test Drive Review: Luxury Go-Kart

by Jay Traugott

Think of the Mercedes-AMG A35 as the gateway to a wider and more expensive range of ultra-fast and powerful German-built automotive rockets. This compact hot rod is merely a preview of what's to come when there's more room in your budget. Unfortunately, the AMG A35 has been dropped from the lineup for model year 2022, but you can probably still find 2021 examples still parked on Mercedes dealer lots. Get one while you can because this is truly a luxury go-kart.

As one of the smallest AMG products sold in the USA, the subcompact luxury sedan competes for attention from the same buyers as the Audi S3 and BMW M235i Gran Coupe. Like those, this German performance sedan is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Power is sent to all four wheels via an automatic transmission - in this case, a seven-speed DCT. With a total of 302 horsepower on tap, the A35 is impressively quick, hitting 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. It also boasts a stunning interior that's above and beyond nearly anything in its class. Best of all, it doesn't cost an excessive amount of money, making it a happy middle ground or an adequate stepping stone into the world of luxurious performance.

Read in this review:

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Changes: 🚙What's the difference vs. 2020 Mercedes-AMG A35?

Not much changes for 2021. After quietly entering the market in 2020, Mercedes-AMG has now added a 64-color LED ambient lighting system and blind-spot monitoring to the features list, and the MBUX Interior Assistant is now a standalone option.

Pros and Cons

  • Quick enough for most
  • Adept handling
  • Stunning interior
  • Lots of available safety features
  • Good value for money
  • Tight interior dimensions
  • Brakes aren't up to hard abuse
  • Seven-speed DCT isn't the sharpest
  • Most safety features are optional

Best Deals on AMG A35

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
AMG A35 4MATIC Sedan
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$45,850

Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class subcompact sedan's styling may not be for everyone but it's far from ugly. Enter the more powerful AMG A35. AMG's visual and aero enhancements give the design a tastefully aggressive edge that highlights all of its attractive qualities. The exterior of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 features standard goodies like 18-inch AMG twin five-spoke wheels, LED headlights, a panoramic roof, and the twin-blade AMG grille. Denoting its status as a lesser AMG variant, it gets twin round tailpipes. Buyers can add a little more flair with optional extras including various 19-inch wheel options (included on our tester) and an AMG aerodynamics Package which adds a more aggressive front splitter, rear spoiler, and diffuser. Our car's Denim Blue Metallic paint costs an extra $720.

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 CarBuzz
2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 1 CarBuzz
2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 2 CarBuzz
See All 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Mercedes A35 is classed as a subcompact luxury sedan and has similar dimensions to its main rival, the Audi S3 Sedan. Its length is 179.4 inches and it rolls on a 107.4-inch wheelbase. The total width of the performance sedan is 78.4 inches including the mirrors while the body on its own is 70.7 inches. It stands 55.6 inches tall. The AMG A35 isn't exactly a featherweight, despite its compact dimensions, and has a curb weight of 3,461 pounds.

  • Length 179.4 in
  • Wheelbase 107.4 in
  • Height 55.6 in
  • Max Width 70.7 in
  • Front Width 61.9 in
  • Rear Width 61.8 in

Exterior Colors

While the AMG CLA 45 can be had in vibrant yellow, this handsome German machine is offered in ten colors, all of which seem rather mature for a car that will most likely end up in the hands of a younger crowd. Either way, the Mercedes-AMG A35 looks good in any one of them. Polar White and Night Black are the only two no-cost color options. The rest of the range consists of Digital White Metallic, Cosmos Black Metallic, Iridium Silver Metallic, Mountain Grey Metallic, Mojave Silver Metallic, Denim Blue Metallic, and Patagonia Red Metallic, which all cost an additional $720. For those with expensive taste, Mercedes-AMG offers designo Mountain Grey Magno for $2,500.

  • Iridium Silver Metallic
  • Mountain Grey Metallic
  • Mojave Silver Metallic
  • Cosmos Black Metallic
  • Denim Blue Metallic
  • Patagonia Red Metallic
  • Digital White Metallic
  • designo Mountain Grey Magno (Matte Finish)
  • Polar White
  • Night Black

AMG A35 Performance

Cars like the Mercedes-AMG A35, Golf R, and Audi S3 are perfect examples of how far manufacturers have come in terms of delivering stunning performance from small-capacity engines. Combine this with clever AWD systems and modern launch control, and you have a recipe for serious fun. The AMG A35 might not be the most powerful little sedan on the planet with 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, but it's the way it harnesses that power that makes it so much fun. Despite not having the same launch control feature as the CLA 45, the A35 is still capable of dispatching the 0 to 60 mph sprint in only 4.6 seconds, although real-world testing has yielded quicker results. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Based on a FWD platform, the part-time AWD system helps straight-line performance, but the A35 is ultimately limited through the corners where the chassis is neutral but ultimately behaves like a FWD machine. This resulted in some understeer and lacking the power-on oversteer characteristics bestowed upon similar machines with so-called drift modes. But again, some sacrifices had to be made in order to achieve this price point.

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 3 CarBuzz
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Engine and Transmission

It's incredible how much power manufacturers are able to squeeze out of four-cylinder engines, and while the A35 isn't the most powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot vehicle Mercedes-AMG has ever produced, it still punches out an impressive 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It distributes this to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Power delivery is impressive, and as is to be expected from this type of powertrain, power comes on strong early in the rev range. Impressively, the surge doesn't taper off too early as with so many other small-capacity turbocharged engines, making this suited for a broad range of situations from highway cruising to backroad blasting. The weak point is the seven-speed DCT, which is part of an older generation and essentially carries over from the last-gen CLA 45. We didn't like it then, and we're not massive fans now. It's great when launching hard, but when you're going through twisties with regular changes between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears, it's easily caught out.

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    7-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    AWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

As is to be expected from anything wearing an AMG badge, this AWD performance sedan has a definite bias towards athleticism, which can be felt when driving over rough roads. The suspension is firm, but it's not overly harsh as far as we're concerned. The one downside is the tendency to feel even some minor road bumps. At cruising speed, the A35 is very comfortable and can easily handle everything from daily errands to cross-country road trips. The optional AMG Ride Control's adaptive dampers are a good choice if you want more flexibility in terms of ride feel.

Take it out to a twisty road and it proves why the optional suspension (only $990 extra) is needed. It resists roll well, but still has a soft enough edge to communicate in lieu of the mute steering. Our mountain road driving experience was nothing but fun. However, we did notice a slight lack of front-end grip in a few tight corners.

The A35 feels like a FWD car in the way it pushes its nose out. But the chassis feels natural in the way it behaves. You can trust the response and behavior whether you're going through a corner once or ten times over. Never once did we feel the car couldn't handle what we were throwing at it, an impressive feat considering its platform. Still, we weren't going all-out. The same can't be said of the BMW M235i Gran Coupe, and we're surprised to admit that Mercedes has nailed mid-level performance better than BMW.

The A35 isn't a full-fat performance sedan. It's not a track animal. Even on regular roads, spirited driving will put a strain on the brakes that tend to overheat and get soft sooner than we'd like. It's not the ideal hardcore sports sedan, but rather a warm variant suited for road use and some spirited driving.

2021 AMG A35 Gas Mileage

This 302-hp performance sedan is surprisingly frugal if you drive it like a pensioner. According to the EPA, the A35 will manage a respectable 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined. The rivaling BMW M235i Gran Coupe offers a more efficient figure of 23/32/26 mpg. With a fuel capacity of 13.5 gallons, the A35 should have a maximum range of 338 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 22/29 mpg
* 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 AMG A 35 4MATIC Sedan

2021 AMG A35 Interior

Few do an interior quite as well as Mercedes-AMG, and the new A35 makes its competitors look dreary on the inside. The A35 takes the already stylish interior of the vanilla A-Class Sedan and turns up the heat with some aggressive yet tasteful touches that match the sporty persona of the rest of the car.

Our tester came equipped with a performance steering wheel wrapped in Nappa leather, AMG drive unit steering wheel buttons, and heated front seats.

The choice of materials and build quality is class-leading, and the list of standard features is also considerable. Unfortunately, the cabin of the A35 feels tight, particularly in the rear, but your average-size adult will still be able to find a comfortable spot (at least up front). Other notable styling elements featured in our week-long tester include brushed aluminum trim, and grey/black MB-Tex, a high-quality leather substitute.

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 6 CarBuzz
2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 7 CarBuzz
2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 8 CarBuzz
See All 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The A35 is the smallest of the AMG range, yet the company claims that it can comfortably accommodate five adults. We are here to tell you that that's not going to happen. In the front, there's ample space, and even six-footers will find it easy to find a comfy position, especially thanks to a generous 41.8 inches of legroom. The front sport seats provide 12-way power adjustment, including four-way power lumbar support and three-position memory. Mercedes-AMG also offers a Performance Seat package which adds heated body-hugging bucket seats for an additional $3,270. These are great seats, but if you're of a larger frame, they might be too snug. It's in the back where things get a little tight: with only 33.9 inches of legroom, larger passengers might feel cramped. Headroom is still good, though, unlike the sloping roofline of the mechanically-identical CLA.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.8 in
  • Front Head Room 40.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 33.9 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.2 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Previously, these lower-end AMG models felt cheap inside, but with its new generation of vehicles, Mercedes-AMG has some of the best-crafted interiors around, even in this baby version. Look past the twin-screen infotainment and the 2021 A35 has six upholstery options and five trim options. Neva Grey/Black MB-Tex and Black MB-Tex with red stitching are both no-cost options, with the former being surprisingly classy and making the interior seem more voluminous. The leather options cost $1,450 and include plain black, Classic Red/Black, Titanium Grey/Black, and the very un-AMG Bahia Brown. In terms of trim inserts, all cars come standard with aluminum finishes in either a linear or longitudinal grain, but new owners can opt for an AMG aluminum design with black and silver stripes at no cost or two types of wood, Black Linden wood or Brown Walnut wood, for $325. AMG also offers three optional performance steering wheels, ranging from a Nappa leather option for $400, to a Nappa leather/Dinamica option for $500, or pure Dinamica for $600. If you don't like the red seat belts, AMG will replace them with black ones for no additional cost.

AMG A35 Trunk and Cargo Space

How much trunk space a car offers is usually a significant factor in the regular person's decision-making process when looking at new vehicles, but that won't necessarily be the case with the A35. People keen on this car will be more interested in performance and status, which is a good thing considering the trunk is pretty tiny. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG provides only 8.6 cubic feet of space. That's enough space to pack five of your favorite outfits for the big Tik Tok influencer event in town this weekend and is only a little bigger than the trunk of the Toyota 86. The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe has nearly double the capacity. The 40/20/40-split folding rear seats open up some much-appreciated space in the back.

Small-item storage is decent: a glovebox and split-folding center console storage bin will swallow most of your personal belongings, and there's a set of decent door pockets. Cupholders are provided both front and rear, with those at the back getting a fold-down center armrest with dual cupholders.

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 9 CarBuzz
2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 10 CarBuzz
2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 11 CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    14.8 ft³

AMG A35 Infotainment and Features

Features

It might be the baby model of the AMG range, but its spec sheet still reads like a thoroughly premium vehicle. The exterior features nice-to-have luxuries such as a panoramic glass roof and obligatory details such as automatic LED headlights. On the inside, the A35 shines with standard 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment, a 64-color LED interior lighting system, keyless start, an illuminated entry system, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Standard driver assistance features include active brake assist, blind-spot assist, crosswind assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Optional extras include heated and ventilated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors, and hands-free access, while most advanced driver assists like adaptive cruise control and a head-up display also require extra money to be put in.

A few performance options are part of the list, including the AMG Drive Unit, which adds touch-responsive toggles and a rotary selector to the steering wheel to control various drive modes, suspension, and gearbox settings.

Infotainment

Mercedes-AMG understands that the US market is tech-driven and places high importance on its infotainment system. The A35 features a standard 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display running the latest MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) software. Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, five USB-C ports, Bluetooth streaming, and HD Radio. The MBUX system works well and is controlled via a touchpad controller, steering wheel controls, touch, or via voice commands. Optional extras include a powerful 590-watt, 12-speaker Burmester sound system, navigation, and in-car Wi-Fi, as well as a six-month all-access trial to SiriusXM satellite radio. Wireless device charging can also be added, as can augmented-reality video for navigation when paired with an onboard dashcam.

We found the MBUX infotainment system to work very well overall but there were a few times when it failed to recognize our Android smartphone at first. This was remedied by starting the connecting process over again. It was slightly annoying having to do this.

AMG A35 Problems and Reliability

The 2021 A35 has been affected by two recalls: the more recent one was for a multimedia system software issue that could cause the display to remain black, affecting the rearview camera system. The other was due to faulty ISOFIX anchorage points for child seats. Other than these blips, reliability seems decent. Mercedes-Benz covers the A35 with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, along with corrosion protection and powertrain cover for the same number of years and distance. A four-year/50,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also included, but there's no free maintenance to speak of.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles

AMG A35 Safety

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has performed a safety review of the AMG A35 Sedan or its civilian sibling, the A-Class Sedan, but we expect it to return a decent safety rating when it is eventually tested.

Key Safety Features

Each 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 comes standard with eight airbags, including thorax/pelvic bags and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. Brake assist, stability control, and traction control are a given, as are LED headlights and a reverse camera. Driver assistance features include crosswind assist, blind-spot assist, and attention assist, but these are rudimentary and the best features need to be paid for. Optional safety tech on offer includes active steering assist, active speed-limit assist, lane-change assist, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic assist, and a surround-view camera system. Rear-seat side airbags can also be selected, taking the total count to ten.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 a good car?

Seeing the letters A, M, and G on the tail of a car this size could lead to some confusion. This isn't a fire-breathing, tire-shredding sedan crammed into a small package. Instead, it's a lukewarm performance sedan designed to slowly introduce younger fans to the brand in a "first hit is (not quite) free" sort of way. Unfortunately, AMG felt that formula wasn't working as it should, hence the model's retirement. The slightly larger CLA 45 isn't going anywhere.

A few corners were cut to keep costs down. For example, you don't get the new eight-speed DCT or torque vectoring, Drift Mode-toting chassis from the CLA 45. What owners get in return are ample straight-line performance, a suspension that can still be used daily, and AMG exclusivity. The steering lacks some feel and the brakes won't hold up to track day levels of abuse, but that's just fine for this price point. The AMG A35 is well-balanced, well-packaged, and feels organic. Considering BMW won't build a full-fat M version of the 2 Series Gran Coupe and AMG won't do an A45 Sedan, these two are strong rivals, and the Mercedes is the better driving machine, hands-down.

🚘What's the Price of the AMG A35?

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 sells for an MSRP of $45,850. The A35 is competitively priced against the upcoming 2022 Audi S3 Sedan ($44,900), and the BMW M235i Gran Coupe at $45,500. Those who aren't bothered with specific configurations or buying new can get their hands on low mileage examples for around $40k. Fully loaded, the A35 AMG's price can rocket to over $70k, at which point a Mercedes-AMG CLA45 makes a lot of sense. The price of the AMG A35 excludes tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,050.

Our tester came to a grand total of $52,990, including destination. That sum includes the metallic exterior paint, AMG Performance steering wheel, upgraded suspension, heated front seats, and the Multimedia and Premium Packages.

2021 AMG A35 Sedan Models

The Mercedes-AMG A35 is the only AMG trim in the A-Class lineup. It's powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The exterior gets standard 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, LED headlights, and a panoramic glass roof. On the inside, the A35 features 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 64-color LED interior lighting system, an illuminated entry system, and keyless start. The infotainment system consists of a 10.25-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, five USB-C ports, Bluetooth streaming, and HD Radio. Standard driver assistance features include blind-spot assist, crosswind assist, active brake assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

See All 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The A35 can be transformed into a seriously advanced and seriously pricey car thanks to a vast array of optional packages offered by Mercedes. We love the AMG Aerodynamics Package, which adds more aggressive aero details, including a larger front splitter, rear decklid spoiler, and a diffuser for $1,550. However, this package can only be specified together with the $750 AMG Night Package. Unfortunately, our car wasn't equipped with either.

The interior can be transformed with the $3,470 AMG Performance Seat Package Advanced that includes AMG Performance seats with multi-contour adjustability. Once again, that price isn't as appealing as it first looks as you'll be forced to spend $1,450 on genuine leather and $500 on heated front seats as well. We highly recommend the Driver Assistance Package, which adds tons of safety features such as active emergency stop assist, active speed limit assist, active lane-keeping assist, active blind spot assist, and active lane change assist for only $1,700. This safety suite requires both the Multimedia Package ($1,295) and the Premium Package ($800).

A few standalone options might appeal, too, like heated and ventilated front seats at $950, an AMG head-up display for $1,100, or the Burmester sound system for $850. The adaptive damping suspension is a $990 option.

🚗What Mercedes-AMG A35 Model Should I Buy?

We were generally very happy with the way our tester came equipped. The Denim Blue Metallic paint is gorgeous, especially in direct sunlight. The optional 19-inch matte-black twin five-spoke wheels are another classy touch. Inside, we're big fans of the AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa/Dinamica for $500. Also included were a head-up display, the Driver Assistance Package, which also adds the Multimedia and Premium Packages, and heated front seats. The one feature we would have liked to have had is the optional adaptive dampers. The grand total is a very reasonable $52,990, including destination.

The Mercedes-AMG A35 is a wonderful entry point for the AMG brand. It's definitely not a German hot rod by any means but it's still extremely fun to drive overall. It's a shame it didn't catch on the way AMG had hoped.

Check out other Mercedes-Benz A-Class Styles

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 Comparisons

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe
Audi S3 Sedan Audi
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mercedes-AMG A35302 hp22/29 mpg$45,850
BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe 301 hp23/32 mpg$35,700
Audi S3 Sedan 306 hp23/32 mpg$45,800

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 vs BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

The BMW M235i xDrive is another one of those "not really a coupe" models that BMW is hellbent on pushing onto its customers. Just by looking at these two cars, we can say, without any hesitation, that the AMG A35 is the better-looking car. Under the hood, the BMW packs a similar inline-four engine producing 301 hp and a superior 332 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The BMW will sprint to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and top out at 155 mph. Fuel consumption is pegged at 23/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined. The M235i xDrive Gran Coupe's engine might be more powerful, but is devoid of any sort of character, and the handling is just as dull. The A35 is the better driver's car. If, however, you need more practicality from your small, fast sedan, the BMW's trunk is nearly twice the size of the Merc's. Still, BMW missed the mark with this abomination. Get the A35.

See BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Review

2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 vs Audi S3 Sedan

The 2022 Audi S3 Sedan is the latest fighter to join the compact executive performance battlefield, and it comes in with fists swinging. After taking a hiatus for 2021, an all-new S3 arrives for 2022. It follows a similar recipe to the AMG, powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 306 hp and 295 lb-ft. Both cars are equally matched when it comes to performance (on paper) and will deliver more or less the same fuel economy. The interior of the S3 follows a typically clinical approach and doesn't look as appealing as that of the Mercedes. Audi fans will stay for the quattro performance; the rest will head over to Mercedes-AMG for the brand equity and superior interior. The Audi is more spacious, though, and its base price is a few hundred dollars lighter, so if you're looking for a side of practicality with your performance, the Four Rings might be your answer. We're yet to drive the new S3, so a final verdict will have to wait a little while longer for reviews of both before we give a full comparison, but the two of these are at the head of the pack and the competition will now be closer than ever.

See Audi S3 Sedan Review

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