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Mercedes-AMG A 35 Saloon review: Mass rapid transit

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Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic Saloon.

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Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic Saloon.

Singapore

SUPPOSE you always promised yourself a Mercedes someday, and a fancy sportscar some other day. The good news is, you can have a bit of both in the Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic Saloon. You won't have to make senior partner or join the board to afford it either, since it costs S$219,888 with Certificate Of Entitlement.

It's a bargain at that price, despite its small size. If you pay less than S$1,000 per horsepower in Singapore you're doing okay, but the A 35 packs 306hp under its sculpted bonnet. You do the math.

Let those horses loose, and the A 35 scampers to 100km/h in a jolly 4.8 seconds, which goes to show that if money can't buy happiness, at least it can still buy heady acceleration.

Every AMG is a Mercedes on steroids, but the sub-brand now offers models in two tiers. The A 35 is from the lower one, so unlike a full AMG it doesn't come with an engine painstakingly built by a single person. It's neither as vociferous nor as powerful as the upper-tier A 45, a car for people incapable of feeling fear.

But it's still a blast to drive, partially because it has a small car's agility, but more because it's a beautifully sorted machine. Minor but meaningful suspension tweaks make it feel more precise than a normal A-Class, and its all wheel drive system (indicated by the "4Matic" part of its name) gives its tyres a lizard-like purchase on the tarmac.

There's plenty of useful feedback from the steering wheel, so you always know how close you are to slipping off the edge of grip.

Between that and the exuberant, energetic engine, it's a car that delivers exhilaration on demand. Some exhaust pipe histrionics would be nice, since full AMG cars crackle as if they run on gunpowder instead of petrol, but you can't have everything. Indeed, in some ways you don't get all that much in the A 35.

The rear seats and boot are respectable, but the A-Class is a product of mass luxury, so many of the cabin plastics feel cheap, and the air-con is a simple single-zone affair. Mercedes does say this car is for young families, so the assumption must be that you and your spouse haven't been married long enough to quarrel over things like cabin temperature.

Still, drive this and some people will inevitably miss its pocket rocket appeal entirely, and grill you on why you didn't get a bigger car (or indeed, a bigger Mercedes) for the money.

The real question is, why keep company with people like that? The A 35 is infinitely more fun to spend time with.


Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic Saloon

Engine 1,991cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 306hp at 5,800rpm
Torque 400Nm at 3,000-4,000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
0-100km/h 250km/h
Top Speed 4.8 seconds
Fuel Efficiency 7.2L/100km
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Price S$219,888 with COE
Available Now

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