We recently spent some time behind the wheel of the smallest four-door member of the AMG family. We drove the Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan to bring you this review.

Mercedes-Benz first dipped its toes into the compact segment with the 190E (internal code W201). But as that car grew into, what we now know as, the C-Class a new model was needed to fill the gap… enter the A-Class Sedan. The range includes various powertrain options, but the Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan is the one that many performance fans will be interested in.

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Entry point

Mercedes has built a very strong business with its AMG division. The in-house speed merchants are responsible for creating some truly memorable machinery from the A45S hyper hatch, through several super saloons and performance SUVs onto the pukka sportscar GT family and the soon to be released AMG One hypercar.

Check out our A45S track video at this link.

But for those who are looking for an entry point into AMG ownership the A35 is it. The new badge was added to the A-Class line-up with the introduction of the most recent model. Prior to that you had to buy an A45 if you wanted a pukka AMG, and not just one with a body kit.

Sleek looker

The current A-Class range is, in our eyes, a massive stylistic improvement over its predecessor. Its lines are sleek and the proportions are just right. AMG touches on the A35 include a specific grille and front bumper treatment, larger alloys and a subtle little lip on the boot lid. Our test unit stood out in a lovely shade of blue called Denim.

Inside the A-Class doesn’t betray its entry-level roots. The steering is a substantial item with perforated leather inserts and high-tech remote controls for the infotainment and instrument cluster. One area that potential buyers need to be aware of is rear cabin space. This car is aimed at young professionals, most likely without any kids. While the boot is large enough to easily accommodate plenty of luggage the rear seats are quite snug, as is the rear head room.

Turbocharged AWD

This may be an entry-level model but the Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan is considered a true AMG. It has an inline four-pot motor. A twin-scroll turbocharger helps boost power to 225 kW, along with peak torque of 400 N.m. These figures place it among the likes of the VW Golf R and BMW M235i in performance terms. Power is fed to all four corners through a dual-clutch seven-speed automated transmission, similar to its competitors.

Watch the A35 hatch drag race its main rivals at this link.

Mercedes says the smallest AMG sedan can zip from rest to 100 km/h in 4,8 seconds, thanks to a launch control function. Its stop speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h… more than enough. We didn’t break the law by doing twice the national speed limit, but we did use the launch control feature, which is a great party trick; though we can’t see too many Mercedes owners scrambling to use it at every traffic light.

Switching through the various modes of the AMG drive selector allows drivers to tailor the car’s set-up to their liking, and to save that setting on one, quick recall, button – quite handy. In the racier modes the motor opens its lungs a bit with a few crackles and pops on a trailing throttle.

On the move

The Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan is about as surefooted as they come. It does not have the same firepower as the A45S (310 kW), which means the all-wheel-drive set-up is more than capable of handling the 400 N.m the engine puts out. There also isn’t the rear-wheel bias as in the A45S so it may feel more secure to some drivers.

Drivers can use the chunky steering-wheel-mounted paddles to flick through the ratios in the seven-speed transmission. We did find that that gearbox can seem a bit uncertain at times, as it goes down an extra gear and then quickly shifts up to the next. We also noted a high degree of road noise filtering into the cabin through those ultra low profile tyres. 19-inch wheels may look the part, but there is a price to play.

Summary

Many performance motoring fans will recall the 190E Evo and EvoII, cars that ripped up racetracks across Europe as it competed in the DTM. If there is a modern-day equivalent it would be the A-Class sedan. For new buyers into the AMG brand, the Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan gives them a very good idea of what to expect as they progress up the pecking order.

Model: Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan

Price: R945 360

Engine: 2,0-litre inline four, turbocharged

Transmission: seven-speed automatic, AWD

Max power: 225 kW

Max torque: 400 N.m

Top speed: 250 km/h

0-100 km/h: 4,8 sec

Fuel consumption: 7,3 L/100 km