First, you might be wondering if a Mercedes with an MSRP of only $45,850 can truly be an AMG vehicle. Luckily, with the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic sedan, the answer is yes. We spent a week test-driving this sporty sedan and found plenty of performance perks in our AMG A 35 review.
And it’s not just sporty looking. It drives just as you’d imagine — like two cars in one. With this sedan, you get a smooth daily driver and a canyon carving bandit. To switch between the two, simply flick your wrist and get on the gas. The AMG badge gets you a lot more than just an appearance package. It’s the whole damn thing.
2021 Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic Sedan: Under The Hood
Let’s talk engine. Under the hood of the A 35, you get an “AMG-enhanced” 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 that makes 302 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s 114 more horsepower than the standard A 220. Launches in this car are exciting and almost brutal. It’s no Porsche Turbo S, but it’ll still throw you into the back of your seat.
The power flows to all four wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). As tested with the Dragy GPS Performance Box, 0-60 mph took 4.90 seconds with launch control (called “race start”) enabled. Torque delivery started to drop off after 4,000 rpm; however, the car carried a lot of momentum.
Due to the small turbocharged engine, the revs drop slowly, and if you take your foot off the throttle, the car keeps coasting without losing much speed. The DCT was responsive and felt especially great going between 3rd and 4th gear.
With this much power in a small engine, 30+ mpg is attainable, as is 14 mpg, depending on your driving style. I was able to manage 24.1 mpg combined with a large mix of driving, the majority of which was in Sport+ mode with some unnecessary downshifts just to hear the exhaust crackle and pop.
Plenty of Stopping Power
With great power, comes great braking. Behind the 19-inch AMG wheels, the A 35 is equipped with 13.8-inch, 4-piston caliper disc brakes up front and 13-inch, single-piston caliper disc brakes in the rear. The brake feel is great in this car, with easy modulation and lots of stopping power. With AMG Dynamics turned on, the torque vectoring system uses the brakes to work against any potential understeer, keeping the sedan composed in the curves.
AWD Precision Handling
Thanks to Mercedes 4matic all-wheel-drive system, the A 35 is superb through the corners. At no point in my 600 miles of driving did I get close to the limits of its grip. It seemed to flow between corners and hugged the turns with ease.
The steering is direct with a nice weight that gives you a sense of precision like a surgeon with a blade. The optional adjustable dampers on my test ride really tightened up the car for precise sailing through the mountains. Although, regardless of how quickly it can carve up a mountain, I do wish it were available in rear-wheel drive.
This car may as well be a best buy. There are screens everywhere, including on the steering wheel. Not unique to the A 35, we also saw this in the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT 43 (which is a $100k+ car). The 12-inch display above the wheel can be toggled between different themes for the gauges which range from “Understated” to “Track Experience” mode.
Importantly, the steering wheel itself has a great feel and finish with easy-to-access controls. On the left, you get to thumb buttons to enable AMG dynamics and manual shifting. On the right, you have a mode controller which can be twisted like a dial to switch between Slippery, Individual, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ mode. Click the controller at any point to jump into Individual mode.
Slippery mode is an interesting one, which I found myself using for in-town driving. This mode reduces engine power and alters the torque curve to be flat. It makes smooth driving incredibly easy without much foot modulation.
The difference can be felt and heard between Sport and Sport+ mode. In Sport mode the (optional) suspension stiffens up to level 1 of 2, the transmission enables double de-clutching gear shifts which make shifts faster, and the steering weight increases. Sport+ mode stiffens to level 2, sets the idle higher, increases throttle sensitivity and it adds a bit of fuel on overrun making the exhaust crackle and pop on downshifts.
Individual mode gives you the best of all worlds. You can mix and match engine power, steering weight, suspension stiffness, transmission speed, traction control levels, and exhaust pops. If I could ask Mercedes to change one thing, it would be increasing the size of the paddle shifters just slightly.
One neat trick up the A 35’s sleeve is the two microphones up front — one above the driver and the other above the front passenger. MBUX offers individual voice control that you can activate by saying “Hey Mercedes.” If the driver says “Hey Mercedes, turn on my heated seat,” the sedan knows to turn on only the driver’s seat, thanks to the microphone setup. Your front passenger will similarly enjoy voice-activated control of their side of the car.
One downside to the A 35’s tech package is the Apple CarPlay interface. For some reason, current Mercedes cars show Apple CarPlay in a 4:3 ratio although the display is 16:9. This results in having 2 inches of black screen on either side of Carplay which makes it seem like it’s not connected properly every single time. It looks off-putting to have a Waze be in a square on a rectangular screen.
Convenience Up Front & In Back
For the size, the A 35 is quite a convenient little car. The front doors have a bottle holder that fits a 32oz bottle (or a Subway footlong) with additional storage pockets. There are also two cupholders in the center console as well as a storage area with a USB-C inside for charging only. The car does have CarPlay, but it only works with the USB-C port found in the front of the car.
Rear passengers do get some legroom thanks to cutouts in the back of the front seats. There are two air conditioning vents for the rear and two USB-C ports to keep their devices charged. With the DP1 Premium Package’s keyless-go, the trunk can be automatically opened by waving your foot under the rear diffuser. The trunk can fit an entire dirt bike! Just kidding. It does, however, easily fit five to six carry-on bags.
Not All That Glitters is Gold: The Downsides
A big drawback to the 2021 Mercedes AMG A 35 is that some of the materials get dirty really fast. Within a day of driving the car, I noticed fingerprints everywhere! The glossy black plastic and door handles are fingerprint magnets. If you have some OCD about the cleanliness of your ride, this may be a dealbreaker for you.
Another nuisance I noticed within my first hour of driving the A 35 was the stop-start system. When firing back up at a red light, the entire car would shake, and the steering wheel would vibrate more noticeably than in other cars I’ve driven. This may be due to the motor mounts in the A 35 versus the A 220, but it certainly detracted from the overall driving experience.
Is the 2021 Mercedes AMG A 35 4Matic Sedan For You?
Here’s the deal. If you’re looking to step into a Mercedes for a luxury car in terms of the ride, the 2021 AMG A 35 sedan isn’t it. The suspension is stiff, the seats aren’t plush, and the ride can be noisy. However, if you’re looking for an exciting sports car that just so happens to have space for four people plus cargo, go for it! You’ll find that this sedan also has the added benefits of being super easy to park and looking like a six-figure car for about half the price.