What is it?
It’s not complicated: this is the new, three-box version of the Mercedes-AMG A35 hot hatch.
Yet compared to its hatchback counterpart, the A35 Saloon is a more exciting product. For a long time (before the pumped-up utility vehicles, hatchbacks and, of course, clean-sheet supercars), AMG was high-performance saloons. It’s why back-catalogue legends such as the W124 300E ‘Hammer’ today go for six figures at auction. And actually, the very best models developed in Affalterbach today are still all saloons with V8 engines.
Starting at £36,565, the A35 is a much less expensive route into AMG saloon ownership than any Hammer was or ever will be; it's considerably more affordable than the modern-day C63. Admittedly, the A35 doesn't get a big V8 or even a bespoke AMG engine, but if you want a compact saloon that ticks at least one of those boxes, there’s the new £52,000 CLA 45 S. The 415bhp 'M139' motor it uses has the highest specific output of any four-cylinder production engine ever made.
Instead, the powertrain in the A35 Saloon is carried over wholesale from the A35 hatchback. That means you get 302bhp from a fettled version of the mass-production 'M260' 2.0-litre turbo engine found in the A250 – not exotic but very much on the money here. Power and torque are put through Mercedes’ own seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to all four wheels, with an open differential at the front and an electronically multidisc clutch housed within the rear transaxle.
Naturally, the saloon is longer than the hatchback, although only by 130mm. It follows that weight is also up, but at 1570kg, the difference is just 15kg. In fact, the most significant difference beyond the sleeker design is that, at 420 litres, boot space is usefully increased.