2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG A35 Hatchback Review

Back in 2019, we reviewed Mercedes-Benz’s entry level A250 hatchback. It was the first time the A-Class was introduced to North America, and we Canadians were the lucky ones to be able to pick between the sedan (A220) and hatchback (A250) models. 

Now Mercedes-Benz has introduced an AMG version of the excellent A-Class, the A35. It is the smallest AMG in the brand’s current lineup. It packs 302 ponies under the hood, and can accelerate from 0-100km/hr in just 4.7 seconds. 

Once again, the hatchback version is only available in Canada. And thanks to Mercedes-Benz Canada, I was loaned the Canadian exclusive A35 Hatchback for a week to test drive. Below is my unbiased review.
The A250 is already a very handsome looking hatchback, but the A35 takes it to the next level with AMG exclusive body stylings. If you prefer something more flamboyant like the Focus RS or Civic Type R, the A35 may not be your cup of tea. Instead, the A35 oozes quiet confidence and sophistication.   

At the front, the twin bar grille design and the matte chrome slats of the outer air intakes sets the A35 apart from the A250. The eye-catching daytime running lights and the LED headlamps remain the same. The car has a sporty stance that is further emphasized by the sharp creased shoulders sweeping back from the Star-center grille. 

On the side, the 18” 5-twin-spoke bicolor wheel matches perfectly with the long wheelbase and the beefy wheel arches. In my opinion, the hatchback version of the A-Class looks much better than the sedan from the side. Something about that hot hatch look just sets the car apart from everything else on the road. 

The rear of the A35 hatchback features round chrome tailpipes and a large black diffuser inserted into valence for a more sporty look. I actually prefer the tailpipes of the A250, but I appreciate the company’s efforts to set the two cars apart. The upper edge of the hatch is defined by a larger spoiler that is actually win tunnel tested. If you want your AMG to stand out even more, an AMG Aerodynamics Package is available. With that package, you get more pronounced front splitters, a bigger wing, and gloss black diffusers. 
I personally prefer the sleeper look of the A35 without the Aerodynamic Package. Subtlety is what you want in a luxury hot hatch. With just a few AMG badges, the A35 is the perfect antidote to the Civic Type Rs on the road. 

Other than the special AMG seats and steering wheel, the interior of the A35 is the same luxurious space as the A250. Mercedes-Benz knows how to deliver that wow factor inside its cars, and the A35 is no exception. 

The first thing you will notice when you step inside the car is the massive dual-screen infotainment system. Depending on the time of the day, the second thing will either be the massive panoramic sunroof of the RGB LED mood lights. Everything in the cabin is well appointed and well crafted. The gloss piano black trims work perfectly with the LED mood lights to create a high-tech atmosphere after sundown. The use of genuine aluminum on the buttons, door handles, and aviation inspired air vents further elevate the class of the interior. 

The front seats are covered in ARTICO man-made leather with red highlight stitching. They are very supportive. You won’t get the integrated massagers found in higher end models, but front seat warmers are standard. Same cannot be said about the steering wheel. Heated steering wheel, which is a must have during Canadian winters, is sadly missing. 

The rear seats are also comfortable. With the hatchback form factor, there is a decent amount of headroom. While I find the legroom adequate, taller passengers might find their knees pushing against the front seats.

The A35 comes with the same excellent Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system found in all new Mercedes-Benz models.

The MBUX consists of a few different components. First, the twin displays that are positioned right next to each other to appear as one giant screen. Standard A250 gets two 7” displays but the A35 upgrades the screens to 10.25”. The $3200 premium package also unlocked features such as Apple Carplay, Android Auto, wireless charging, and Burmester Surround Sound System. 

The left digital instrument cluster display sits right in front of the steering wheel and displays important vehicle information like the speed, fuel economy, and the trip information. The right center media display, which is also a touchscreen, sits right on top of the center console. It is multi-functional, and can be configured to show pretty much anything the user desires. 

The second part of the MBUX system are the touchpads on the steering wheel. They are similar to the small touch pads on an older blackberry. I love the fact that you never have to take your hands off the steering wheel to access pretty much all functions of the car.

There is another way you can control the many functions of the car without taking your hands off the wheel. That is via the LINGUATRONIC voice assist. It is a natural language smart assistant that functions like the Apple Siri or Google Assist. Simply say "Hey, Mercedes", or press the voice command button, and you can ask the A35 to make a phone call, plot a new navigation route, close the roller sunshade, or change the interior light. The voice assistant can control basically anything that is not safety related. The system is smart enough to understand commands like "I am cold" or "I am hungry" to raise cabin temperature, or to find the closest restaurant.

The final part of the MBUX system is the track-pad that is located in the center console. There is a padded resting place for the wrist, which allows the fingers to scroll through the display menu or to hand-write inputs. I am not a big fan of the touchpad. I prefer rotary command dials similar to the ones found in BMWs and Mazdas, but the touchpad of the A35 is responsible and accurate. 

The other really cool thing about the new infotainment system is the optional virtual reality style navigation system. When you are close to a junction, the center display would pull up the video feed from the front camera, and superimpose arrows to show you exactly where to turn. 

There are 4 USB C ports in the car. You will need the provided adapter if you are still using USB A charging cables.

Safety and Driver Assistance
As with most Mercedes-Benz vehicles, while the A35 comes with some standard safety features, many of the more advanced features are optional. Standard features include:
  • Active Brake Assist
  • In-vehicle, one-touch calling features
  • LED Daytime Running Lamps
  • LED taillamps
  • LED High Performance Lighting System
  • Rearview camera
  • Adaptive braking technology
  • Electric parking brake
  • Body structure
  • Advanced Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Heated windshield washer system
  • Antitheft alarm system with remote panic feature
The following features are optional:
  • MULTIBEAM LED headlamps
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Vehicle Exit Warning
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Active Parking Assist
  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC
  • Active Steering Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Active Lane Change Assist
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function
  • Active Emergency Stop Assist
  • Enhanced Stop-and-Go
  • Active Speed Limit Assist
  • Route-based Speed Adaptation
  • 360 camera
Many of the optional features are obtained with the  $1700 CAD Advanced Driver Assistance Package
The A35 has yet to be rated by NHTSA and IIHS at the time of writing.

The A35 is powered by a 2.0L inline-4 turbocharged engine that produces 302 hp of power and 295 lb.ft. of torque. That is 81 ponies more than the A250. As a result, the A35 achieves 0-100km/hr in 4.7 seconds, 1.5 seconds faster than the none-AMG version. The engine power is delivered to the 4Matic AWD system via an AMG tuned speedshift dual clutch 7-speed automatic transmission. 
The transmission is quick to shift when driven hard, and quite responsive to the shift paddles. But it feels a little hesitant at lower speeds. This, combined with noticeable turbo lags, makes the A35 behave somewhat unpredictable in traffic. The AWD system, on the other hand, is excellent. It is front wheel biased, but can send up to 50% of the engine power to the rear. The torque vectoring system helps improve cornering agility regardless of weather. 

The A35 really shines on the mountain road. It feels significantly stiffer than the A250. The AMG calibrated 4-wheel independent suspension uses firmer spring and damping, and have a more aggressive stance. The result is very little body roll in corners and barely noticeable pitch change during acceleration and braking. On the other hand, some drivers will find the suspension to be too harsh for daily drives. 

There is a dedicated AMG Dynamic Select dial. It lets you transform the car’s character by choosing between Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and custom modes. Leaving the car in Sport and Sport Plus modes gives you a firmer steering feel and quicker drivetrain response. It also tends to hold the gear longer than you would like sometimes. 

The AMG A35 is rated for 10.6L/100km city, 8.2L/100km highway, and  9.5L/100km combined. Our one week spirited drive returns a fuel economy figure of 11L/100km. 

Cargo Space & Storage
The A35 has 370L of trunk space. Identical t that of the A250. When the 40/20/40 split folding rear seats are folded, the cargo space is increased to 1210L. There is a shallow storage compartment under the trunk floor. This is where you will find the tire repair kit.

In cabin storage options are above average, The storage bin under the split-fold armrest is decently sized, and there is a dedicated storage tray for your smartphone in the front center console. The side door pockets are deep and wide, especially the front ones. For rear passengers, two more cup holders can be found in the folding center armrest. There are also two mesh pockets behind the front seat backs. 

The A35 hatchback is a great car for people who enjoy both luxury and performance. It adds another level of excitement to the already excellent A250 hatchback. The base price of the A35 is very reasonable, but as with any Mercedes-Benz, you will not walk out of the dealership without ticking a few option boxes. While I love the A35, the A250 might be more suitable for the masses. It provides just enough performance without sacrificing ride comfort. If you like the concept of a sleeper car though, the A35 must be just the one for you. 

Test Vehicle
2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG A35 Hatchback with  Premium Package
$49,800 base, $53,000 CAD as tested
Night Black 


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