Aimed at young up-and-comers looking for a luxury ride with sporting aspirations, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 offers plenty of style, features, and performance for the money. The subtle slope of the roof and the gently curved beltline make this compact three-box look elegant and agile, particularly when parked beside the high-rumped BMW M235iGran Coupe, one of its main competitors along with the Audi S3. The elegance continues inside, where everything looks thoroughly modern, with cabin-lining ambient lighting and a generously sized two-in-one touchscreen display for the instruments and infotainment system. Though it’s the littlest car in the Mercedes lineup, in the U.S., the A35 sits atop the A-class range with an AMG-enhanced turbocharged inline-four, good for 302 horsepower. If that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps its slightly larger platform-mate, the CLA, will; it can be had with a rowdy 382-hp four-cylinder.
What’s New for 2021?
Not much. Mercedes added blind-spot monitoring and a 64-color ambient-light system to the standard-equipment list, and it now allows buyers to spec the MBUX Interior Assistant as a standalone option. Otherwise, nothing has changed.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Given the A35 is an entry-luxury sports sedan, we expect this might be your first foray into the premium sector, and as such, you’re going to want the best this car has to offer while keeping the sticker price in check. We’d start by adding the Driver Assistance pack for Merc’s smart cruise control and other driver-assistance features. We’d also spec the AMG Ride Control adaptive-damping system so we could adjust suspension firmness as we please. The Premium package is a must for keyless entry, but it also comes with an auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror, power-folding side mirrors, and a remote trunk opener that’s activated your foot under the bumper. And because some of us love inflatable bolsters and heated seats, we’d be tempted to spec the AMG Performance Seat package despite its $3270 tag.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the A35’s hood sits an AMG-enhanced turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive comes standard, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic boasts a launch-control feature that allows for maximum acceleration from a standstill. In our testing, this 3513-pound sedan raced to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 109 mph—both admirable times for something in this segment. We appreciate the optional adaptive dampers for their ability to provide excellent handling and a taut, sporty ride, but rougher roads and freeway expansion joints can send sharp jolts make their way into the cabin. If you want a reasonably priced (for AMG) hot rod with even more power, don’t fret: Mercedes offers the coupe-like CLA45 four-door. It goes for about $10,000 more than the A35, however.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
According to the EPA, the A35 4Matic should achieve 24 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway, and 27 combined. Those ratings are about even with what the German competition from BMW and Audi can muster. But on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy loop, the A35 outdid itself, averaging 34 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
True to its AMG branding, the A35’s cabin has some sporty touches. The steering wheel comes wrapped in perforated leather and features paddles for manual control of the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A 64-color ambient-light system complete with backlit center vents comes standard this year, giving every A35 a night-club vibe. If you want a little more luxury, Mercedes offers real wood in place of the standard aluminum trim as well as leather upholstery. As the smallest of AMG’s models, the A-class will undoubtedly be a tight fit for some, but we find its rear seat accommodates most people reasonably well. As for cargo room, this Merc—with nine cubic feet of trunk space—falls short of the S3 and 2-series Gran Coupe, which boast 10 and 15 cubes, respectively. Though we’ve yet to measure the A35’s practical storage, in the identically sized A220, we managed to fit five carry-on suitcases in the trunk and 15 with the seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Similar to other Mercedes models, the A35 features a widescreen display consisting of two LCD monitors—one for the gauges and another for the infotainment system—under one long piece of glass stretching much of the way across the dashboard. Drivers can control the MBUX infotainment system by fiddling with the steering-wheel buttons, using the touchpad on the center console, tapping the screen, or providing voice commands. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration comes standard, but satellite radio will cost you another $460. Mercedes provides five USB-C ports throughout the cabin plus an eight-speaker stereo. For $850, though, you can upgrade to a 12-speaker sound system made by Burmester.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the new A-class. We will update this section when either agency does. If you want driver-assistance tech, you’re going to have to pay extra for it. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Mercedes doesn’t go beyond the norm when it comes to warranty coverage, matching the four-year/50,000-mile plans offered by Audi and BMW. That said, those other German luxury brands provide at least some form of included scheduled maintenance. Mercedes does not.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
More Features and Specs