• The Mercedes-AMG A35 is the entry-level model in the German's performance arm line-up.
• It's powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 225kW and 400Nm.
• An eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is standard.
Let's get the elephant out of the room: the A35 is the cheapest AMG on sale in South Africa.
It sits between the A250 Sport and flagship A45 S, and the latter is powered by the world's most potent 2.0-litre turbocharged motor, the M139 with 310kW.
Back to the A35, it also sports a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and is essentially the A250's power source with a twin-scroll turbocharger and other upgrades.The total output is 225kW and 400Nm.
The gearbox is a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic linked to the carmaker's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.Mercedes reckons with the Race Launch control dialled in, and the A35 will reach 100km/h from standstill in 4.7 seconds and must be electronically limited to 250km/h.
Visually, the A35 wears twin exhausts pipes and is festooned with AMG badges front and rear and Turbo 4Matic badges on either flank.There's a large AMG-specific grille that shouts hot hatch and rides on 18-inch wheels. Bigger wheels are, of course, optional.
Stopping power comes in the form of 350mm brake discs with four-piston monoblock fixed callipers at the front, while at the rear, single-piston sliding callipers do the job.
Step inside, and the first thing that strikes me is the massive screens offered in the A-Class. Some graphics show power and torque bars, among other performance figures like a lap timer in the AMG models.
The steering wheel is borrowed from the C63 and features rotary selectors for the different drive modes.
My frame fits into the sports seats nice and snug, and they hold one’s body in the right spots when cornering. On the topic of corners, the A35’s four-wheel-drive system offers plenty of grip when cornering.
I took it to my favourite windy road above the city and was impressed by how it handled the quick changes in direction. The feedback from the steering isn’t the most awe-inspiring, but the way the power builds after a touch of lag is impressive.
The engine offers a solid punch from over 2000 r/min and punches through the gears.
Steering wheel paddle shifters mean I don't have to take hands off the alcantara-clad helm, and I can focus on placing the front wheels exactly where they need to be.There's minimal understeer, and the torque is smartly and swiftly distributes the torque between both axles.
The A35's straight-line speed is rapid and feels quick off the mark, particularly when I used the launch control. It pulls strongly up the gears, and I’m not surprised it must be restrained at 250km/h.
The exhaust noise is directed into the cabin via the speakers, and the whole event becomes quite fascinating. But I never got in tune with the A35. The steering was devoid of enough feedback for my liking, and the engine struggles with a bit of lag.
Because it's fitted with a twin-clutch gearbox, low-speed driving suffers from jerkiness. This, unfortunately, is a trait of most gearboxes of that ilk.
At R882 640, the A35 will come up against the Volkswagen Group's Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R later this year.
For now, it offers an entry into the coveted Mercedes performance arm, and for some, that's enough to park it in their garage.