Aggressive. That is what you would call not just how this car looks but also the strategy behind its India debut. It is the second AMG model to be built here in the country. Mercedes-Benz India has been very proactive the last few months, and this is just another example of that. The Mercedes-AMG A 35 builds on the fourth generation A-Class family; and like that car is available globally in hatch and sedan avatar. In India we get both as sedan only now. The A 35 is the true entry model in the AMG lineup - and while it is not full-blown mental like most AMGs are - it is still pretty racy.
Also Read: 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Limousine India Review
An AMG has to look the part and the A 35 certainly is different enough from the regular A-Class sedan. So, you get a more muscular looking car. The AMG alloys are pretty sharp, and you get sportier bumpers, a different rear diffuser and tail pipes. In the front grille you get two slats while on the A-Class sedan it is a single fin. The overall idea is to make the AMG version more ferocious looking. And a lot of that has to do with the raised, muscular and wider hood that's borrowed from the CLA. It kind of comes up on the ends to give extra muscle to an already more muscular fender. That is where the sense of power really comes from visually, and makes the Mercedes-AMG A 35 look different from the regular A-Class sedan. The car does not scream AMG from a mile, but yes looks plenty aggressive and mean. The multibeam LED headlights are sexy, and the taillight motif is my favourite new element.
It turned heads everywhere I drove it, and even though it's dimensions may seem compact to you now, think back to a C-Class from say 12 or 15 years ago, and things were not very different. Honestly the compact dimensions only add to its sporty character. The A 35 is coming in 6 shades - white, 2 silvers, black, the grey with me and a denim blue. But you can get it in the bright yellow seen at the 2020 Auto Expo.
Positioning and Expected Pricing
The A 35 isn't your showcase AMG product in this particular range. You do have the A 45 and the A 45 S - and they both use the purebred AMG award-winning 4-cylinder engine. I drove the A 45 S exclusively in Germany before the pandemic hit and it is an experience, I will not forget any time soon. This car's engine is closer to the global A 250 but I am not complaining, because what this allows is for an AMG product to become more accessible. And that's why I think it's a smart strategy from the company in bringing this variant to India - and more importantly, assembling it locally as well. That's put it in a sweet spot on pricing, and you know what? It may not push as hard as an A 45 S, but as far as you can push it - it is pretty precise, and still a lot of fun.
So, let's get that point about pricing out of the way, shall we? I reckon that Mercedes-Benz will launch this car at about ₹ 58 lakh. Expect just one variant with everything loaded into it. Yes, that is not pocket change, but suddenly someone considering a fully loaded C-Class sees a compelling bet with an AMG sedan. Yes, that is something to think about. And scoff if you will, I know it is still not for everybody. But no AMG is.
So if you are still confused about what this all A 35 nomenclature is all about, let me put it for you in relative terms. It's like how on a 3 series at the BMW stable you have the regular car, then the M Performance version that's very powerful, and then you have the ultimate full blown M car which is the M3. So, in this case the A 35 will be akin to an M Performance model and the full blown AMG in this case would be the A 45. So, if that helps then I hope you understand what you are trying to talk about and that is where difference becomes apparent. So, while it's still is fun to drive, you would find the A 35 may not deliver the full-on AMG experience. Most AMGs have this really crazy quality to them - in an endearing, positive way! That's what is lacking in this car; it's not as crazy and it's doesn't sound as crazy too! Most AMGs are really loud and noisy. Not this one. It tries it's best to growl a little bit, especially in sport plus mode. And the good part is when you upshift in sport plus mode, you do get a few pops out of it!
The car uses an AMG refined 4-cylinder motor that comes from the regular A-Class lineup. But only on the A 220 and A 250 - while India is getting the A 200 - with the smaller 1.3 litre engine. So, there is ample separation in them. Even so - the A 35's motor makes a whole 80 horses more than the 250. The gearbox is quite nice and quick, and even though you miss the growl of an AMG, you still get the quick shifting AMG transmission feel. The standard 4matic or 4 wheel drive system does a good job of giving you front wheel bias, and yet sending enough traction to the rear wheels.
Having spent a lot of time exclusively driving the range topping, mind blowing, reality altering A 45 S hot hatch in Germany, it was kind of inevitable I would make comparisons. And yes, now having driven both extensively, I can say this. The comparison is not only unfair, but now I understand why it is not relevant either. The A 45 S is at the extreme edge of performance for those who want THAT kind of car, and have the means and roads to drive one. The A 35 is more real world. Especially in the India context. But boy is that vertical slats AMG grille on the A 45 so much sexier. So, the steering and suspension are not what you get on A 45, but they are still big leap away from the stock A-Class sedan. You get that sense of agility and sportiness that you are looking for. The sport suspension, the sport seats they all add to the exciting dynamic feel that the car does represent and present, but that steering should really just have been a little bit stiffer.
This is not a family car and yet will meet the daily driving requirements of many. That Adaptive AMG suspension sure helps that cause in everyday conditions, not just in dynamic ones. It can also use regular fuel, and does not need the pricy high octane stuff. So, it is a practical AMG then, dare I say! And while it is most fun in Sport or Sport plus modes, it remains reasonably frugal when being driven sedately in other modes. The car has a really nice ride quality though and handles really well too. So, in the Indian context - this is smart - as it is easier to drive than the more extreme A 45 - which will appeal to more people.
Tech and Interior
The cabin is plush and well finished. The sporty-black theme gets enhanced by the use of sports seats up front with the Dinamica upholstery and the embossed leather steering wheel. You get the Burmester sound system, huge touchscreen displays, connectivity, MBUX virtual assistant, and the active park assist.
So I really do look forward to its market debut. I hope it meets with a tonne of success, so that it spurs more such experiments from not just Mercedes-AMG but also the rivals.