“Hot Hatch with A Luxury Twist”
Every so often I get to drive a vehicle that just screams fun. It tickles all the right places and pushes all the right buttons. It isn’t the fastest or most powerful. It isn’t the most expensive or most luxurious car. But rather it’s a joy to drive. The A35 is a Canada exclusive model for North America. Our friends down south have to rely on the A35’s bigger SUV sibling the GLA 45, if they want something resembling a hot hatch with an AMG badge on it.
The A35 hatch is actually achingly pretty to look it. It does not scream look at me with large aerodynamic enhancements, but, rather relies on a subtly aggressive stance, wheels and enhanced front and rear fascia. It expresses its sporty DNA in a way that VW has done with the GTI and more recently with the Golf R for decades. However, the A35 exudes a level of luxury that no other hot hatch in the market can match. A big reason for this is the A35’s utilization of the A35’s larger sibling’s parts bin. Proper use of alcantara, satin aluminum switch gear, and dual 10 inch screens for the infotainment and gauge cluster make you feel like you are in a truly special place.
Behind the wheel is when things become exciting. The A35 utilizes an enhanced version of the 2.0 liter four found in the A220. It produces a healthy 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. This allows the A35 to sprint to 100 in about 4.5 seconds. There is a noticeable level of turbo lag, but once the twin scroll turbo spools up the A35 pulls with a gusto. The steering is sharp and accurate. The ride is stiff and can feel overly tuned at times. However, this setup allows the A35 to confidently tackle any roadway making the task of taking the A35 for a drive a meaningful exercise. The 7-speed DCT is up to the task, but it can at times, feel too lurchy and more like a full manual rather than dual clutch. It also suffers a lag during cold starts. Based off a front wheel drive system power is biased to the front. However, when conditions or traction demands it, 50% of the power can be transferred to the rear axle. This also occurs under hard acceleration to limit wheel spin and torque steer.
Some of you may also know about the full bored A45. Now, I have not had any seat time in the A45. However, I have had seat time in the CLA 45, based on a similar platform and the same drivetrain. The CLA 45 and equally the A45 are rip snorting bonkers machines. They scream speed and aggression, now don’t get me wrong, this type of hooliganism has a time and place, however, on a daily basis it becomes difficult to manage and handle. The A35 occupies a sweet spot that 45 overshoots. You get just the right amount of fun factor with every day usability. Coming in at an as tested price of $50,000 the A35 is about $5,000 more than the Golf R. That premium for the price of entry into the tri star brand is well worth it and is noticeable in the details.