- Dynamic styling with performance to match
- Luxuriously-styled cabin with lots of top kit
- Superb infotainment system with ‘Hey Mercedes’ online function
- Expensive with all the optional extras factored in
- Rear spoiler looks a tad boy racer-ish
- ‘Hey Mercedes’ – you can’t turn it off!
The AMG A35 4MATIC is the new entry-level model from Mercedes-AMG delivering aggressive styling and blisteringly-quick handling ability. The performance is everything you would wish from a car carrying the AMG badge, yet this A-Class is packed with all the latest creature comforts too.
It features a trailblazing voice control set-up that’s activated by the words ‘Hey Mercedes’ and this works similarly to Alexa. You ask a question and get an answer. On the downside, it can’t be switched off.
This new car completes the A-Class line up. It’s far sportier than the entry-level models, but not quite so fearsome or pricey as the mighty A45. The A35 4MATIC is available in AMG, AMG Executive, AMG Premium and AMG Premium Plus trim levels with prices ranging from £35,580 to £39,785.
On The Road
AMG is the division of Mercedes that develops performance cars. It is an abbreviation of Aufecht, Melcher, and Großaspach and any cars carrying the AMG logo are always that little bit special.
The latest AMG A35 4MATIC five-door hatchback is powered by a four cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 306hp and 400Nm of torque, driving all four wheels via a 7G-DCT seven-speed automatic gearbox. It can complete the 0-62mph sprint in a rapid 4.7 seconds and has a top speed that is electronically-limited to 155mph.
The acceleration and constant stream of power is unrelenting and this car can blitz its way through long sweeping bends without a care in the world. The road holding is ultra grippy and the steering wheel-mounted paddles offer extra control over the gear changes. There is a new M mode - that rather aptly stands for manual - that is activated by operating these paddles.
The gear ratios have cleverly been configured so the driver experiences responsive acceleration in all speed ranges and there are different drive modes called Individual, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ that alter the behaviour of the engine, suspension, steering and transmission. In addition, a new Slippery setting offers extra grip on snow-covered surfaces.
The steering is precise and accurate with ample driver feedback through the flat-bottomed AMG Performance steering wheel.
Balanced and poised, the AMG A35 4MATIC glides through bends and effortlessly eats up the open road. If driven in Comfort mode it is composed and very controlled, but switch across to Sport+ and it all gets a lot more aggressive. The sound is elevated as a perfect accompaniment too and all the responses become sharper.
However, even when cornering at pace, the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system ensures the AMG A35 4MATIC keeps its grip by automatically delivering the traction to the front or rear as necessary.
This car is the ideal all-rounder for anyone seeking a comfortable, almost sensible everyday vehicle that can cope easily with the daily commute, but can fully deliver when a little more high-spirited driving adventure is on the cards.
And when that adrenaline rush kicks in, the AMG A35 4MATIC offers a sound track to match the performance. The exhaust system features an automatically controlled exhaust flap as standard. Depending on the drive programme selected the sound is modulated from balanced to powerful. A silent start is programmed as the basic setting meaning the car always starts in quiet mode which should keep you on speaking terms with the neighbours.
The standard model is fitted with 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, but the test car featured an AMG Style Pack that introduced 19-inch AMG multi-spoke alloys painted matt black. Despite the slightly larger wheels, the car still felt well cushioned and there wasn’t the slightest hint of body sway. In addition, the suspension system does a valid job of smoothing out all but the most severe bumps and dips along the way.
When driven in the calmer modes, the car is beautifully refined and insulated against any engine, road surface or wind noise. Switch across to Sport+ and you will need to crank up the volume on the pitch perfect Burmester surround sound system.
The AMG A35 4MATIC is also quite the attention seeker guaranteed to turn heads with its muscular, athletic styling. Design cues include an AMG radiator grille, brake callipers multi-beam LED headlights, a huge rear spoiler and brake callipers with AMG lettering.
Options on the car were a panoramic glass roof and the AMG style Pack (£2,595) that included an AMG Aerodynamics package with a rear wing in high-gloss black, diffuser blade in high-gloss black, front apron with larger splitter, plus the larger alloys and heat-insulating dark-tinted glass.
The interior is equally impressive with a clutter-free layout along with a generous level of technology. The leather upholstery is of the finest quality and there is 64-colour ambient lighting to suit every mood. Soft touch surfaces, smart chrome inlays and one of the neatest infotainment screens in the business complete the premium styling.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The sports seats can be power adjusted via control buttons located on the doors and the steering wheel also has full movement making it easy to get comfy in the car. The all-round visibility is good but not great. That’s because the door pillars are quite thick so obscure the over-the-shoulder view, but that was my only concern.
There is a wealth of technology to be explored and the AMG A35 4MATIC features Mercedes latest display set-up with a pair of 10.25-inch glass screens blending effortlessly together to create a widescreen display with 3D graphics. The left screen is where all the infotainment systems are located and the right screen offers all the vital readouts such as the speedo, rev counter and fuel gauge stats.
New to the A-Class line-up at launch was the MBUX multimedia system which replaced the outgoing COMAND systems. This introduced Mercedes voice-controlled ‘Hey Mercedes’ function that, thanks to artificial intelligence, recognises and understand nearly all sentences from the fields of entertainment and vehicle operation. You can ask for restaurant recommendations for a certain area and get reviews of coffee shops along the way. You can ask for the temperature to be increased and extra air flow to be directed to the windscreen etc. All you need do is say the magic words ‘Hey Mercedes’ to bring the system to life. On the downside, it cannot be deactivated so every time you mention the ‘Mercedes’ name it pipes up with ‘How can I help you?’
Also new on the A Class models are different ways to navigate the screens. Gone is the old rotary dial and in its place is a touchpad and controller, voice recognition, or steering wheel Touch Controls – the left button adjusts the infotainment screen and the right one the digital instrumentation display.
There is a lot to get your head around and I’m sure you will still be discovering new features long after you have signed on the dotted line and taken delivery of your new car.
Space & Practicality
Comfort levels within the AMG A35 4MATIC are good with room in the back for a couple of adults without feeling too cramped. Add a third and expect to be on very familiar terms after a short journey.
The boot is accessed via the powered tailgate and has a capacity of 370 litres that is increased to a very acceptable 1,210 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And elsewhere there are lots of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a lockable glovebox, door pockets, a deep tray in front of the gear lever, nets in the seat backs, a central cubby where the USB slots are located, a drop-down sunglasses holder and front cup holders.
With its dynamic design, you do sit fairly low down in the AMG A35 4MATIC which is worth considering if you suffer from any back issues. Other than that though, the car is a practical option and can easily adjust between day-to-day functionality and open-road fun and games.
And with a weight of just over 1.5 tonnes and turning circle of 11.5 metres, the car is nice and agile making city driving with lots of twist and turns a complete doddle.
It will come as little surprise to learn that a car as sharply-dressed as the AMG A35 4MATIC carries a price-tag to match. Our test car began life costing £35,580 but a raft of optional extras saw the end price rise to £43,960. Like all premium marques, the Mercedes is available with a choice of attractive packs and our car boasted an AMG Advanced Navigation package (£1,295), AMG Premium Plus package (£3,895), an AMG Style pack (£2,595) plus mountain grey metallic paint that added £595 to the outlay.
The official combined fuel economy figure is set at 38.7mpg although if you intend to spend a lot of the driving time in Sport+ mode, expect to see a far less impressive figure. The carbon emissions of 169g/km would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £530 dropping down to £145 after the first 12 months.
The insurance rating for the car is group 37.
Quality & Reliability
The main complaint from existing customers tends to be cost-related rather than reliability issues. In fact Mercedes produces very sturdy vehicles and the AMG A35 4MATIC should survive the test of time.
The latest cars feature a lot of new on-board technology, including the touch pads, display screens and MBUX multi-media set-up and, although it would be difficult to predict how well it will perform in years to come, it seems intuitive enough.
The other advantage of the voice recognition, touchpad and controller methods of navigating the car’s systems is that the snazzy screens won’t end up covered in grubby fingerprints and smudges.
The cabin has a very upmarket and high-quality layout with leather upholstery, soft-touch surfaces and lots of chrome trimmings. These all look durable and should have a decent lifespan before they start to appear jaded in any way.
For extra peace of mind, the car comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, plus four years of Mercedes Mobile Roadside assistance across Europe.
Safety & Security
The AMG A35 4MATIC carries the same maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating that was awarded to the new A-Class and is packed with safety features and driver aids to protect passengers and help prevent an accident occurring in the first instance.
Our car featured the likes of Active Brake assist, Active Lane Keep Assist, Attention Assist, Speed Limit Assist, Cruise Control with variable limiter, plus 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive to keep you on the move in more severe or challenging driving conditions.
The Advanced Navigation package, costing £1,295, added Traffic Sign Assist and a Head-up display, but it’s worth noting that the Driving Assistance package, costing £1,695, is only available on the Executive, Premium or Premium Plus lines. This comprises Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Braking Assist with cross-traffic function, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane-change Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Steering Asist, Evasive Steering Assist, Pre-Safe Plus and route-based speed adjustment.