Even before it hit the market Mercedes-AMG’s A35 Sedan looked set for an existential crisis. After all, originally it was the CLA that catered to people who wanted an AMG but wouldn’t dare go for something as common as a five-door hatch.
But you won’t complain about Mercedes-Benz squeezing another four-door sedan out of the W177 platform when you see the price. At $72,500, the A35 Sedan is $3300 more expensive than the hatch but undercuts the CLA 35 by a massive $12,000. A lot of that saving is in metal – line up the three and you’ll notice the Sedan shares its bodywork and design with the hatch rather than the CLA.
All A35 bodystyles more or less share the same performance hardware. A 2.0-litre inline-4 uses a twin-scroll turbo for 225kW and 400Nm, which goes through a seven-speed dual clutch auto to four wheels. With launch control 0-100km/h takes claimed 4.8sec, a tenth slower than its hatch twin thanks partly to a 15kg weight penalty. The added flab comes with the 110mm stretch in length and the new rump. At 4529mm overall it also welcomes an extra 50 litres in minimum luggage space. It’s an interesting design and we think it sort of looks like a shrunken Alfa Romeo Giulia.
From the hotseat it still offers an excellent driving position atop adaptive strut-front and multi-link suspension. In those AMG performance seats it invites a good thrashing across any kind of road surface, even on low-profile 19-inch rubber, and maintains a friendly suspension balance. It’s hard to say for sure but the Sedan’s damping also feels a touch nicer than the hatch’s.
Grip still stands out as its biggest strength and the all-wheel drive system’s ability to shuffle torque to a loaded axle ensures good pace. Couple that with its pin-sharp, if overly light, steering and you’d take some expensive scalps at a competitive Targa or hill climb. But given how tied down it is, only the brave should indulge in provoking it – on a wet surface it’s much keener to adjust its angle. For us, we’re more comfortable staying within its limits and using the rapid fire powertrain to pick a road apart, and in the A35 sedan that’s still very enjoyable too.
Hot hatch comparison: Mercedes-AMG A35 vs BMW M135i
Day to day, the DCT can hesitate on low speed throttle, and also over shoulder visibility is poor. While it’s more athletic than BMW’s M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, it’s the car’s tech-laden interior which is going to feel like the best reason to pick an A35 Sedan over the aging Audi S3 Sedan that’s almost $7K cheaper. But if you really want a sedan, at this price you should very much consider a real one.
2020 Mercedes-AMG A35 sedan
Engine: 1991cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 225kW @ 5800rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 3000-4000rpm
0-100km/h: 4.8sec (claimed)
Like: Assuring all-wheel drive grip; punchy powertrain; decent ride comfort; composure
Dislike: Unintuitive dual-clutch; sudden breakaway when poked; low feedback