RE: Mercedes-AMG A35: UK Drive

RE: Mercedes-AMG A35: UK Drive

Tuesday 22nd January

Mercedes-AMG A35: UK Drive

From the sunny climes of Majorca to Aberdeen in January for a true test of the A35's mettle



Looking on cars more fondly in sunnier climes is as inescapable as it is predictable; probably shouldn't happen, all too often does. Same happens with food, same most certainly happens (and will continue to happen) with people - guilty as we all must surely be charged...

Anyway, that's for another time. Point being that now there's no escape for the most junior AMG now available, the A35, because the autumnal Majorcan warmth of last month has been swapped for north east Scotland. In January. In the dark. With a shovel in the boot, supplies in the door bins and emergency numbers on hand. It doesn't feel so much test drive as regulation rally.

Still, fading light in an airport car park might be best for the A35; even on 19-inch wheels and with a very expensive paint option it packs neither the drama of the class's more overt alternatives or the effortless cohesion found among its German-built contemporaries. Or not to these eyes, at least. Some may appreciate the potency cloaked in subtlety vibe, though there's surely an argument to say it verges on plain. The lack of razzmatazz seems all the more conspicuous when you consider the (as tested here) Β£48,000 price. Yes, really.


Still, if razzmatazz is what you're after, the A-Class interior is where it's to be found. Now certainly, the cabin requires some getting used to, the incredible screens are part of a Β£4k option pack, and the MBUX voice recognition pipes up incessantly - don't dare talk about other Mercedes with your passenger in here, for example. But in contrast to the bleakness outside, the A-Class interior is a joy: modern, innovative and sufficiently luxurious as well.

Features like the virtual reality sat-nav are genuinely futuristic (and useful), important stuff like the gearbox paddles feel very expensive and the sense of occasion - for what is ostensibly a Golf rival - is fantastic. Again, as should be expected for so much money, but don't underestimate the appeal of shock and awe interiors when so much of UK driving is so tedious. And when social media showing off is so important.

What about when it's not tedious, though? Well, one thing is for certain: those buyers who believe they're getting an A45 or the cheap here, or the de facto replacement for the old '45, are most certainly not in luck. The A35 isn't bad - in some areas it's really very good indeed - but it's most certainly (and clearly) been devised to allow an amount of headroom for the A45 to slot into above.


Examples? The engine. This is not a detuned M133, that monster of a four-cylinder found in the A-Class flagship. Instead it's a more powerful version of the A250's 'M260' 2.0-litre turbo, making the same sort of power that all its direct rivals do. And it's a perfectly good engine, in the way that most of these 2.0-litre turbocharged units are perfectly good, albeit lacking the rabid edge that defined - and hopefully will continue to define - the range-topping motor. It's brisk enough in the A35 to keep pace with everything you hope it would, but not sufficiently fast that anyone with experience of the more senior engine will sit up and take note. Which is understandable, though still a tad disappointing.

Its sense of impressive if not inspiring quality extends to the way the A35 tackles a road. By and large it's really very good, while lacking one stand-out feature - see the old 6.2-litre V8, for example - that used to characterise AMG products, or the fearsome (yet characterful) completeness that now does. It very much aims for the new school, offering a smorgasbord of driving modes and settings, yet arguably without the conviction and compelling ability of the very best in the AMG range.

The ride is the perfect representation of this. Like the facelifted version of the A45, this A35 is optionally offered with adaptive damping in two modes - Comfort and Sport. Nothing unfamiliar there. Nothing unfamiliar, either, about a pretty resolute firmness in either mode at low speed that translates to good control at higher speeds. But that uncanny steeliness of body control that was found in the A45, the ability to shrug of anything at any speed, isn't here - high though the limits are, they are discoverable, and consequently the car never provides quite the same peerless level of confidence.


While the effect will have certainly been exacerbated by winter tyres, the A35 in this instance also lacked the incisive and genuinely eager change of direction that was present in its big brother. The response from the wheel is measured and consistent, though a touch more alertness wouldn't go amiss. Combine that with an all-wheel drive system that allows some wheelspin before transferring any power back and the process can feel a little - if not plain - then not all that AMG. That doesn't mean ludicrous oversteer, either; it means a sense of purpose and of methodical development, as evident in a C63 as it is in a G63.

It's not all doom and gloom, of course. Beyond the cabin, there are most certainly other good points to tot up. The latest dual-clutch transmission feels a world away from those early '45s, clean and crisp in its changes up and down. The brake pedal, always a highlight in AMG A Classes, is fantastic here; firm, accurate and markedly better than found in typically numb, grabby VWs. The A35 sounds great as well, angry but also authentic and with enough silliness to not feel overdone.

Furthermore, intangible and difficult to explain though it may be, there's a lot to be said for a car that makes its drive feel safe and secure - while also allowing them to travel quite quickly - on an unknown country road somewhere near Aberdeen, during January. In the dark. Meganes and the like are fantastic, though never underestimate the appeal of stability done well.


Despite all that, it's impossible to escape the impression that the A35 feels more Mercedes-Benz than it does AMG. That's not necessarily a bad thing, given the manifest quality and ability present in the regular product. But it does mean that there's little to distinguish the car; it lacking a remarkable engine or a notable piece of dynamic technology - not unlike a BMW M140i, another model above the mainstream, yet short on star quality. The trouble for the Mercedes (as distinct from the BMW) is that it's been badged as an AMG, and therefore has to be judged by a higher standard.

So no, the A35 is not a jump-the-queue option for those desperately hankering after a new A45. We'd expect more from that car in terms of powertrain excitement and chassis quality, regardless of what Mercedes says about the two cars' commonalities. No surprise there, really, given that around Β£10k will surely separate them. Truthfully, the more interesting discussion involves the segment's better established options. Because, let's be honest, anybody considering a car as demure as the A-Class (without the aero pack, granted), would never countenance something as wild as a Civic Type R, great car though it is. Both Audi S3 and VW Golf R, despite facelifts, are now five years old, and the BMW M140i even older still. None is the last word in adjustability, poise or entertainment - and all are second to the AMG's interior comforts.

So the A35 is far from a bad car; it's just wearing a badge that its abilities can't quite do justice to - which says as much about the regard that contemporary AMG cars are held in as anything else. Obviously it has been built to cater for those at a lower price point, and while it does that job well enough, it feels nothing more (or less) than its halfway house positioning would suggest. That it won't be received as a cult AMG hero will be of little consequence to Mercedes; should it remain the right side of Β£40k - if you're careful with those options - it dutifully ensures that the three-pointed star is now a credible option for more hot hatch buyers than ever before. But it also suggests that best of AMG is still very much to come.


SPECIFICATION - MERCEDES-AMG A35
Engine:
1,991cc, 4 cyl, turbo
Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 306@5,800-6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@3,000-4,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.7secs
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,555kg
MPG: 38.7
CO2: 167g/km
Price: Β£35,580 (price as tested Β£48,045 comprised of AMG Advanced Navigation Package for Β£1,295, AMG Style Package for Β£2,595, Premium Plus Package for Β£3,895, Mountain Grey Magno paint for Β£1,795, AMG Ride Control suspension for Β£695, Driving Assistance Package for Β£1,695 and Advanced Connectivity package for Β£495).








Author
Discussion

Honeywell

Original Poster:

289 posts

44 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
You could have a BMW 530d Touring for the price of this wee hatchback.

Are the AMG badges made of pure unobtainium?

Onehp

1,107 posts

229 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
I see it as a good option for people looking for a nice place to be, stable quick drive, some class (I like the looks really), not too attention grabbing car, without having to buy a big car they don't want/need.

Not for me.

rejn

1,643 posts

168 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
This looks like a good article on an interesting car I thought.

I got as far as where the article mentioned £48k and stopped at that point. Seriously? For not even the hot AMG A45 version. Not for me thanks.

richinlondon

117 posts

68 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Didn’t Wallace and gromit drive an A35?

scoopdydoo

17 posts

35 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
You lost me when you said the m140i was lacking a great engine. It's 6 cylinder is only matched by the lump in the RS3. That, and it being RWD mean in 5 years time we'll all be wishing they still made it.

Deep Thought

23,794 posts

143 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
rejn said:
This looks like a good article on an interesting car I thought.

I got as far as where the article mentioned £48k and stopped at that point. Seriously? For not even the hot AMG A45 version. Not for me thanks.
Theres £13K of options on that car, so clearly put together by Mercedes to showcase the tech rather than be a typical build.

Drivethedeal are already offering the standard car for £32,713.


Peanus

135 posts

51 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Looks like a nice place to be. Could be a genuine replacement for my Golf R in a couple of years.

big_rob_sydney

2,366 posts

140 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Overpriced, and good but not great. Fail.

Mike1990

717 posts

77 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
I really do like that Interior.

Dale487

1,030 posts

69 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Mike1990 said:
I really do like that Interior.
I just can't see past the love child of a massive iPad & a Rover SD1 in the dial area (I assume this design makes putting bigger/better iPads in on the facelift version very easy).


Edited by Dale487 on Tuesday 22 January 10:18

JerryF

108 posts

120 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
£48,000 - you are having a laugh. I am sure the authors of these articles write them in a controversial way, just to get comments.

Let it stay in Germany.

phil121081

54 posts

118 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
£48k for a second string hatchback is getting ludicrous even by todays standards, no matter how good it might be, or as the article suggest, might not be. But can you really give it a fair crack of the whip on handling and ride when it's running winter tyres? I've run a few cars on winters when needed and the difference between them and summer tyres is night and day. Give it a run on summer tyres when the mercury rises a little and come back to us. Hopefully when carwow can secure one for around £30k too.

WJNB

2,010 posts

107 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Looks too much like a tarted up SEAT.
You're not going to park it, glance back & go Wow!
VERY old people will associate A35 with a dinky little Austin saloon from the 1950's

expat47

6 posts

9 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Read somewhere, that an engine for AMG A35 is the only engine not built by AMG and therefore has no builder´s signature on it. Is that true?
Also, somewhat disappointed that the car has only 2 settings for the adaptive suspension.

Edited by expat47 on Tuesday 22 January 10:44

Jon_S_Rally

581 posts

34 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
You'd have to be mad. The proportions are all wrong, the lines don't work and the rear end just looks odd. The interior, god, where to even begin. It's a disaster. My eyes don't know where to look, there is just way too much going on.

Yes the Golf R is getting on a bit but, if you want a relatively subtle, safe, competent 4WD hot hatch, I would take one all day long over this dog's dinner. Mercs from 10 years ago were genuinely good looking cars. Now they are a flashy, fussy mess.

Deep Thought

23,794 posts

143 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
phil121081 said:
£48k for a second string hatchback is getting ludicrous even by todays standards, no matter how good it might be, or as the article suggest, might not be. But can you really give it a fair crack of the whip on handling and ride when it's running winter tyres? I've run a few cars on winters when needed and the difference between them and summer tyres is night and day. Give it a run on summer tyres when the mercury rises a little and come back to us. Hopefully when carwow can secure one for around £30k too.
Drivethedeal are already offering the standard car for £32,713. Better discounts should follow.

Mr-B

2,198 posts

140 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Dumpy looking thing isn't it, deserves the (Austin) A35 name, fits it well. Can't get passed that awful interior and that's the bit you are going to be looking at 99% of the time, just hideous, seizure and vomit inducing tat. Even at low £30K's with fewer options, NO.

JMF894

2,947 posts

101 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
1800 quid for resale grey.

Come on MB I expect this from Porsche not you.

Biggest problem is it's tagged as an AMG. Agree with the Rover SD1 dash comment.

mikegemmill

30 posts

34 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
I just posted about this in the other thread sorry but are the seats just the same as the rest of the range? (no AMG buckets like the rest of Europe)

Onehp

1,107 posts

229 months

Tuesday 22nd January
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
You'd have to be mad. The proportions are all wrong, the lines don't work and the rear end just looks odd. The interior, god, where to even begin. It's a disaster. My eyes don't know where to look, there is just way too much going on.
Tastes differ. Every time I see one in the flesh, it immediately strikes me as a fresh good looking design, much better than the old one which I never really liked.