The all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has not only grown in size, but also in maturity. It can be regarded as a smaller version of the Mercedes C- and E-Class ranges – but at a significantly lower price. The range begins at just $42,300 for the A180 hatch, with our test car, the A 250 FWD, costing a pretty reasonable $48,800. As usual you have to factor in on-road costs.
New A-Class is larger inside in all directions, with more shoulder space, elbow room and headroom in both the front and rear seats.
At 370 litres the boot is 29 litres larger than before and more accessible due to a larger opening.
Initially all new Merc A-Class models were five-door hatchbacks, a sedan joined them a few months back and we will road test one soon.
The latest compact Merc has the look of a scaled down C-Class rather than the spunkier shapes of previous A-Class models. The grille on ‘our’ A 250 made a bold statement that was appreciated by all who viewed it.
The very elongated instrument panel leaves a somewhat empty area in front of the passenger that’s not to all tastes, including ours. But it may well grow on us. As always, try before you buy.
The display offers a choice of modern classic, sport or understated layouts, with the possibility of up to 25 profiles.
The quality inside the cabin is impressive both in style and materials, with detailed touches that lift it right into the prestige arena.
Though the lower cost models in the A-Class range use a four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine, the A 250 gets the big gun 2.0-litre turbo four with 165kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and drives the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. All-wheel-drive is used in even sportier A-Class variants.
The latest technology features are based around the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). It can be activated by saying ‘Hi Mercedes’ to gain access to important functions, destination details, phone calls, music choices, as well as the ability to write and hear messages.
Regular radio programs, such as news reports, will be suggested through an advanced voice recognition system that understands what the designers call ‘natural’ language. It doesn’t need set commands and can even get its electronic brain around various accents.
We found the voice recognition worked reasonable well and even my mixed Australian/Scottish accent didn’t overly trouble it.
The smallest Benz has a staggering array of safety features. Those which work at crash avoidance are brake assist with semi-autonomous braking, active lane keeping, blind spot monitoring, a warning not open a door if traffic or pedestrians are close to the vehicle on the outside, and traffic sign recognition.
If you still get into a crash up to nine airbags will expand to you look after you and your fellow travellers: front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants and a knee bag for driver,
This is where the all-new A 250 really shows its stuff. Engine performance is excellent and though there’s a little turbo lag it soon comes on song, then there’s plenty of delightful acceleration for real world driving and safe overtaking in short opportunities on country roads.
The dual-clutch automatic reads the driver’s intentions well and works neatly with the engine’s computer to have the correct torque on hand virtually all the time.
However, like many of its type it’s a little fussy at very slow parking speeds, which can make life interesting in tight spots.
Ride quality and noise suppression inside feel every bit as good as that of the C-Class, perhaps even an older E-Class.
Even on the notoriously noisy concrete motorway surfaces between our office on the Gold Coast and Brisbane the A 250 was almost silent inside.
Comfort is, again, like that from a Mercedes from the next size up. The front seats support well and the back seat can be used by someone behind a 181cm driver such as myself. However, some compromising may be required depending on your/their leg lengths.
Fuel consumption was low, with easy running having the Merc using just five to seven litres per hundred kilometres on motorways and flattish country running. It rose to ten to twelve litres in day-to-day traffic and was pretty much the same on our favourite country roads with their lovely bends, rises and drops.
New Mercedes-Benz A 250 is a performance machine from the prestigious German car maker at a relatively modest price. Certainly one to put on your shopping list if you’re planning to move up from the top end of Japanese or Korean cars.
AT A GLANCE
A180 1.3-litre: $42,300
A200 1.3-litre: $47,200
A250 2.0-litre FWD: $48,800
A250 2.0-litre AWD: $49,500
A250 AMG 2.0-litre: $54,800
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz A250 2.0-litre five-door hatch)
Capacity: 1.991 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 165 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 1800 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 150 g/km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4419 mm
Wheelbase: 2729 mm
Width: 1796 mm
Height: 1440 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1375 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 51 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres