Mercedes will offer a 306hp AMG A35 with the A-class luxury sedan range in India. We take it for a spin on Indian roads.
Mercedes Benz A35 AMG sedan: what is it?
Merc’s A35 is a performance car that sits somewhere in between the completely nuts 421hp A45 and a stock A Limo.
While making a sedan from a hatch isn’t easy, as we have often seen here with our sub-four-meter three box cars, Mercedes has managed to give the A sedan flowing lines and spot-on proportions. AMG’s A35 then takes it a good deal further. The stance is sportier, the bigger wheels fill the arches better and what makes a world of a difference is that the subtle body kit is just right. That little bit of a chin works well, the vents ahead of the front wheel arches make it look more aggressive, the side skirt connects the wheels nicely, and then that little bit of a splitter in black at the rear, with the big exhaust cans poking out, just hits the spot.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine is actually a development of Merc’s stock M260 unit (as against AMG’s M139 on the A45), and to boost torque at low speeds, a twin-scroll turbocharger is used. Peak power is a healthy 306hp and this is sent to all four wheels via Merc’s own 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The four-wheel-drive system allows up to 50 percent of the power to be sent to the rear, which means the car is unlikely to ever feel rear-biased, even though the rear axle uses an electro-mechanically activated multi-disc clutch for quick responses. The A35 even gets uprated suspension components to help deal with the power better. There’s now a lower wishbone up front, with a custom strut brace and underfloor stiffening (for better steering connect). At the rear, AMG has used a new subframe to add stiffening.
Mercedes Benz A35 AMG sedan: what’s it like to drive?
All the additional kit certainly makes a massive difference to the driving experience. The first thing I notice as I up the pace is the steering. Beautifully weighted, very direct and capable of delivering a fair amount of connect even as I unwind a lock, it really stitches the four corners of the car up nice and tight. There’s also plenty of grip as we go from apex to apex, the nose ever keen to change direction and the four tyres clawing in. It even manages to inspire confidence over some of the wet patches I encounter. You can’t really tell when the rear axle chips in, or if it does at all, but it does manage to feel quite neutral and balanced before eventually understeering. And that, for what basically is a front-wheel-drive car is pretty good. Even the body control is very good, with the A35 feeling well poised even when you hurl it around.
It isn’t just the neat and tidy responses that are impressive. You can also derive loads of pleasure from the motor. Prod the throttle and responses are immediate, sharp and wonderfully addictive; keep your foot in and the tacho needle climbs with plenty of energy. In fact, flatten the accelerator in second or third, with the engine spinning at around 3,000rpm, and the A35 will have you grinning like an ape. No, throttle responses aren’t as feral as the full blown A45, and you don’t quite need to grip the steering wheel harder, but this is still deeply addictive. Even flat-out performance is strong; we managed to record 0-100kph in 5.6sec without the use of launch control, and that is pretty quick. This car, for reference, is past 150kph in 11.5sec, and that makes it a great tool for fast highway commutes, where stability is great, the brakes have a good amount of bite, and the twin-clutch gearbox works well.
In fact, the gearbox works particularly well when you are ‘on it’. It shifts up crisply, it allows downshifts even when you are high up in the powerband, and while there is a bit of a pause on downshifts at times, this is another bit of hardware that adds to this car’s fun factor.
However, the gearbox does pause and feel grabby at low speeds. The A35’s adaptive AMG suspension rounds off bumps on the road nicely and isn’t pushed off the line as often as the previous A45 was, but larger bumps do catch it out occasionally; the short-travel suspension is not ideal here. And while the A35 is nowhere near as low-slung as the previous-gen A45, you still have to slow down and be deliberate over some of the larger speed breakers. The 160mm ground clearance is only just about enough for our ad hoc speed breakers.
Mercedes Benz A35 AMG sedan: what’s different on the inside?
On the inside, the A35 gets plenty of typical AMG touches that sort of complete the circle and make it feel like the real thing. This includes a pair of superbly finished and very supportive AMG sports seats, an AMG flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium sport pedals, and AMG-specific graphics for the digital instrument panel. What lifts the ambience considerably is the colour-matching ambient lighting in yellow, which provides a very interesting glow, especially to the turbine like vents. Also included in the A35’s package is the Burmester 12-speaker, 590W sound system and the latest MBUX (NTG6) infotainment system.
Rear passengers also get a lot more space and comfort than the earlier CLA. Legroom is much improved, headroom is good for regular-sized passengers and though you are seated a bit low, the rear seat isn’t uncomfortable for two, even over longish journeys. And what makes sitting in the back a bit nicer is the massive sunroof that brightens up the rear of the cabin.
The boot isn’t too large, at 420 litres, but it will carry a weekend’s worth of bags quite easily, or swallow three large suitcases when you are on an airport run. And that sort of adds to the practicality.
Mercedes Benz A35 AMG sedan: should you buy one?
Launched at Rs 56.24 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the locally assembled A35 AMG is clearly more expensive than the stock models, but then it delivers much more car as well. A lot more performance for sure, sharper handling, a richer cabin, more kit on the inside and, not to be dismissed, the look of a higher-end AMG performance car. It clearly is nowhere as exciting as a C63, its compact cabin means you can get much more space at this price, and the A35 won’t be as practical on an everyday basis as something like a C-class. Still, if you want the best of both worlds, with an extra dose of luxury and sophistication thrown in, the charming and fun-to-drive A35 all but hits the spot.