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Review: 2021 Mercedes A35 justifies higher price for luxury brand

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Price as tested: $54,970

Rating: ★★★ (out of four stars)

Reasons to buy: Power, handling, instrument displays

Shortcomings: Price, trunk room

How much? What do you get?

A35 prices start at $45,850. That’s a cool $12,200 over the base model, which has less power, front-wheel drive and few, if any, performance aspirations. Adding all-wheel drive raises the tab $2,000. Those models come with a modest 188-horsepower 2.0L four-cylinder turbo and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

 

All A-class sedans are 179.1 inches long and 56.9 inches tall, about 3 inches shorter and 1.2 inch taller than a Honda Civic sedan. Those stats have always made the A-class challenging for Mercedes: The Civic — any mainstream compact, really — is a fine car. How does a luxury brand justify prices $10K+ higher for a car about the same size, with a similar mechanical layout?

That’s where the A35 comes in. Heavily revised by Merc's AMG tuning house, all A35s have upgraded running gear, starting with performance-tuned all-wheel drive, a 302-hp turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The A35’s base price is competitive, but a lot of features most buyers will want are optional, so the tab rises fast. I tested a well-equipped model that stickered at $54,970. All prices exclude destination charges.

Features on my test vehicle included:

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