Hot compact cars are often let down by the humbleness of their origins---the cheapness of the basic car before the performance bits are bolted on. That's what makes the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC so appealing. The power is built on an already strong foundation.
I reviewed the Mercedes-Benz A220 last summer and found it to be the clearest evidence yet that Mercedes is on a hot streak---that there are no weak links in a vast lineup of cars. The A-Class is in no way "less than". It is a no-excuses small premium sedan.
AMG takes that strong foundation and installs a 2.0-liter, 302 horsepower, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with 295 pounds of torque. AMG's Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive is part of the deal, as is an AMG SPEEDSHIFT dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission, an AMG sport suspension and AMG Dynamic Select.
Zero to 60 happens in 4.3 seconds, stops are straight and sure, curves are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 22 miles per gallon city/29 highway.
The base price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC is $45,850. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are a panoramic sunroof, twin 10.25-inch digital displays for instruments and infotainment, ambient lighting, power front seats with lumbar support and memory, rain-sensing windshield wipers and dual-zone automatic climate control.
As with all European luxury marques, the shockingly reasonable base price morphs into a more realistic bottom line on the window sticker with the extra-cost options.
Our tester had quite a few, including $720 for the Patagonia Red Metallic paint, $1,450 for the black leather interior, $400 for the AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather, $800 for 19-inch black AMG wheels, $400 for AMG Drive Unit steering wheel buttons, $990 for an AMG Ride Control sport suspension upgrade, $460 for SiriusXM Satellite Radio with free trial period, $850 for a Burmester surround sound audio system, $500 for heated front seats, $25 for a USB-C adapter cable, $1,295 for the Multimedia Package, $750 for the AMG Night Package, $1,550 for the AMG Aerodynamics Package and $800 for the Premium Package (see window sticker below for package details).
With $1,050 destination and delivery, the as-tested price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC is $57,890.
When you drive the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC, the only sticker shock comes from the starting price. Within five miles, you'll understand that this is a nearly $60,000 premium small performance sedan, priced appropriately, and proof that you shouldn't be buying cars by the pound.