Anyone who has driven an international-spec sportscar on Indian roads will understand when I say this. Properly quick special performance cars are extremely expensive in India. Additionally, the firmed up ride and low stance on Indian roads make them pretty much un-drivable for the most part. However, in recent times, automakers have understood our needs and have come up with a solution.
With the new A-Class sedan being launched in India it also brought along its slightly agitated sibling the Mercedes-AMG A35 — the best example in my opinion as a solution to the problem. The A35 is designed to provide the exhilarating AMG performance, in a more affordable package that is easier to live with.
So to achieve that, they sent the 2.0-litre motor from the A250 (not sold in India) to the folks at AMG to spice it up a little. The result is a 306 hp mini rocket, and with 400 Nm being sent to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive. Seems like an ideal recipe from behind the steering wheel. But is it though?
Apart from the more powerful engine, the differences from the normal model include a firmer ride, of course, a front biased all-wheel-drive system, a quick-shifting transmission and a new steering rack. All combined to give a more exhilarating driving experience.
While there are a few modes to choose from, Sport+ is the one you will get the most out of the AMG A35. It is in this mode where the throttle response is sharpest, the 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox is most alert and the steering rack feels most alive.
With that much power, in a package, this small is definitely a riot from the driver’s seat. The engine response shoves you in the seat enough, but it’s not intimidating. 0-100 kph takes just 4.8 seconds and there is a lot of grunt in the midrange. It does get a move on with a boot full of throttle, as there is enough torque down low as well.
The gearbox is quick, smooth and quite clever. It largely knows the gear you want, but occasionally, you can catch it off guard. But that’s what the paddles are for, to let you take control. Additionally, the all-wheel-drive and the traction control is intrusive enough to let you have some fun, without letting you totally get out of shape.
The ride as well feels taut and hunkered down. It’s firmer than the standard model, and it rides the bumps well when you’re pushing it. However, it has enough give that you don’t need to set the car to speed-dial your chiropractor every time you hit a small bump on the road. The brakes are sharp and have good bite in them as you would expect. The feedback from the pedal is good and you get the confidence you need when you’re pushing it through the bends.
While all of that does seem like a riot, which it is, there are a few things that are not so great for a performance car. For starters, it doesn’t sound anything like one. Thanks to European noise regulations, the exhaust sound is heavily watered down. However, you can hear some pops and crackles occasionally which is nice. Additionally, the steering is fairly direct and is a big upgrade from the standard A-Class. However, feedback from it isn’t much to talk about. Being precise can be a bit tricky when you’re leaning on the tyres. Thirdly, the car rides quite low, meaning ground clearance isn’t great for Indian conditions. It’s fine over most broken surfaces, or small speed breakers, but you have to gingerly take the taller ones at an angle before you finally end up scraping the bottom as a tear rolls down your cheek every time.
But when you park it on the side and you take a look at it, you get to know how well proportionate the styling is on this little compact sedan. It gets the aggressive look like the CLS which is great, and the AMG styling adds a touch of “What are you looking at, Punk?” attitude, over the “Look at me, I’m so angry” over-styled facade we find on most other modern cars. Yes, it rides quite low, but when it sits on its 18-inch AMG style wheels, you understand the real lines of the car a lot better. But I do wish Mercedes offered a wider exterior colour palette.
Moving to the cabin, it is largely the same as the standard A-Class with similar equipment. It doesn’t go out of its way but does manage to make you feel a little more special than the regular model. The all-black interior, the ambient lighting, and special AMG touches elevate it just enough.
The hairy-chested 63 AMGs are arguably difficult to live with on an everyday basis. But the A35 AMG goes a long way to meet you halfway to suit our needs for Indian conditions. At Rs 56.2 lakh (ex-showroom) it is the fastest car you can buy for that money. Included in the price, you get all the latest MBUX technologies, a fun car to drive and more importantly, it doesn’t need the expensive high octane fuel like its elder AMG siblings. Yes, the A35 does have a few areas for improvements but it is largely worth every penny. It isn’t flawless, but a great car is one that makes you love it and accept it despite its flaws. The Mercedes-AMG A35 does exactly that.
Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC Specifications
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged
Power: 306 hp @ 5,800-6,100 rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 3,000–4,000 rpm
Transmission: AMG tuned 7-Speed Speedshift DCT
Acceleration 0-100kph : 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 250kph
4MATIC All-Wheel-Drive (Front Biased)
18-inch AMG designed alloy wheels
All-Black Interior with Red Contrast Stitching
New power steering rack for dynamic driving
Revised AMG Performance Suspension
Price: Rs 56.2 lakh lakh (ex-showroom)
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