MERCEDES A 250 SPORT LOOKS GREAT, GOES HARD

Mercedes-Benz_A250_frontMercedes-Benz A-Class received a facelift at the start of 2016. We’ve just spent an interesting week in the A250, the model that we forecast is likely to be the biggest seller in the extensive range.

It’s not the lowest cost model A-Class; the A 180 is priced at just $37,200, a real bargain for a car with the prestigious three-pointed star on the grill. Nor is as manic as the A 45 AMG which has a tag of $77,900 and really needs a racetrack to get your pulse racing.

At 53,500 the A 250 Sport is an excellent compromise, being relatively easy on the bank account and providing a solid turn of performance that’s fine for everyday use.

For the 2016 season A-Class gets additional technology, with all versions now having adaptive suspension and satellite navigation. The Mercedes A 180 has 17-inch wheels, Garmin Map Pilot navigation, blind spot assist, reversing camera, keyless start, Dynamic Select modes and a sporty diamond grille in black as standard. The A 200 has 18-inch wheels and sports seats with lumber support. The ultra-hot AMG A 45 4Matic now produces 280 kW (up from 265 kW) and can get from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in just 4.2 seconds.

We will cover powertrain details of our A 250 Sport test car in a moment.

STYLING
The A-Class is no longer the tiny car aimed at finding parking spots in overcrowded European cities, the latest generation is longer, sleeker and lower. The so-called diamond grille treatment works well and we found the red paint on our test car a pleasant change from the 500 shades of grey currently making our roads like we’re living in a black-and-white movie.

Mercedes-Benz_A250_rear

The sports kit on the A250 is anything but shy and retiring and grabbed plenty of looks while we were driving it.

Also in a red hue is the stitching on the dark trim on the seats, door and dashboard that certainly tie in with the Sport badges. Ambient interior lighting can be tailored to suit your needs by providing 12 different colours.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The 2.0-litre A 250 Sport petrol has 160 kW of power and a wild 475 Nm of torque running through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It uses the Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, sits on 18-inch AMG wheels, and Ride Control suspension. Five different driving modes are offered, everything from Comfort to Race. The latter, naturally, only intended for track use.

INFOTAINMENT
In a sign of the times, the days when Mercedes saved up its new high-tech items until a new S-Class was introduces have gone. So rapid is the rate of technology change that the company is now, somewhat reluctantly we suspect, forced to add tech to the next model it launches. Waiting for an S-Class would otherwise see it lagging for years behind competitors at times.

The A-Class is the first Mercedes model to be available with smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay and Siri voice control. Mercedes’ latest Comand infotainment system works well and we enjoyed the quality sound system.

SAFETY
The latest Mercedes-Benz A-Class has multiple driving assistance systems, including the drowsiness detection system Attention Assist, Distronic Plus, Collision Prevention Assist Plus and Blind Spot Assist.

There are nine airbags to minimise damage to the occupants should everything still go wrong. An Active Bonnet setup minimises pedestrian injury in a collision.

Mercedes-Benz_A250_interior

DRIVING
The front seats are correctly shaped to give good support without being overly aggressive. The rears are on the tight side if the people in the front are tall, so some compromise will be required.

The adaptive suspension system, now fitted to all A-Class models, provides the sort of ride comfort that’s close to its bigger brother the C-Class. That’s in the Comfort setting, when sharpened up by dialling in Sport it becomes a genuine hot-hatch to let drivers enjoy a traditional early Sunday morning drive. Some passengers may find it slightly harsh on rough roads, though.

Handling through the all-wheel-drive 4Matic system is tenacious and easy to control and defies the fact that the A-Class began its life as a front-drive family hatchback.

Engine performance is excellent and the Mercedes engineers have managed to trim turbo lag to a minimum. Engage the Sport mode and it not only gives more power, but also builds downshift blips into the automatic. Love it!

VERDICT
The smallest Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been further refined in this latest iteration. We love the look of the Sport body kit and the engine and chassis dynamics will bring a smile to the face of those looking for performance at a relatively modest price.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
A 180 1.6-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $37,200 (automatic)
A 200 1.6-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $42,800 (automatic) A 200d 2.1-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch: $43,300 (automatic) A 250 Sport 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD five-door hatch: $53,500 (automatic) A 45 AMG 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD five-door hatch: $77,900 (automatic) Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD five-door hatch)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.991 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum power: 160 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 1200 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 156 g/km

DRIVELINE:
Seven-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4433 mm
Wheelbase: 2699 mm
Width: 1780 mm
Height: 1438 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1445 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / 100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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