The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is perhaps one of the most important models in the company’s line-up, as this premium hatchback is the entry point into the three-pointed star family.
But that was not the case more than 20 years ago, as the C-Class was the cheapest Mercedes-Benz you could buy back then. Realizing that there was an untapped market with entry-level models, the company introduced (then) all-new A-Class in 1997, heralding a new segment for the company.
By the time the A-Class evolved into its third generation, the model transformed into a sporty little hatchback, aimed squarely at the BMW 1 Series.
For the focus of this review, we will be taking a look at the fourth generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class in its A250 form.
Specifications for Mercedes-Benz A250
- Engine: 2.0-litre, direct injection, turbocharged, M260
- Power: 224 hp @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque: 350 Nm from 1,800 – 4,000 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed (7G-DCT), dual-clutch, front-wheel drive
- Safety: Seven airbags, ABS, stability control, traction control, hill start assist, ISOFIX, autonomous emergency braking, collision warning
- Price: RM 263,888 excluding insurance
- Origin: CBU, Imported from Rastatt, Germany
The fourth generation A-Class is built on the evolution of the MFA platform, aptly called the MFA2. Thanks to the updated platform, the all-new A-Class now offers more shoulder room, head room, and elbow room for passengers. In addition to that, boot space has been enlarged to 370 litres, an increase of 29 litres over the preceding model.
Another aspect that Mercedes-Benz was keen to point out was that ride comfort has been improved in the all-new A-Class, addressing one of the biggest complaints of its hatchback. More below.
With a design that is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the all-new A-Class continues to retain much of the essence of what made an A-Class an A-Class, including the signature roof line and character line along the sides.
The front and rear end of the fourth generation model are new, with the front end featuring a pair of sharp-looking headlights while the rears receiving wider tail lights, giving the all-new generation model a wider-looking rear stance.
Out goes the awkwardly-placed infotainment display, now replaced with suave-looking dual 10.25-inch displays.
The in-depth review of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience can be found here.
But infotainment system aside, the all-new generation A-Class raises the bar when it comes to the premium appeal for hatchbacks.
Mercedes-Benz has utilized a generous amount of premium-looking (and feeling) materials throughout the interior, from the plush leather seats to the metal air vents - just about everything in the A-Class looks and feels the part.
If we were to nit-pick, the air-conditioning controls feel rather cheaply-made, with somewhat tacky-feeling buttons populating that particular spot.
However, if you can overlook that small niggle, the rest of the cabin does not disappoint. The ambient lighting and sound system more than makes up for the small issues we had with the A-Class. The sound quality, although not tuned by Burmester, still offers excellent sound quality.
With 224 hp and 350 Nm on tap, the A250 has similar output to the Volkswagen Golf GTI (227 hp/350 Nm). With that said, the premium hatchback does make all of its 350 Nm of torque known, as the torque curve is distributed nicely along the RPM range.
For the most part, we were never left wanting for more power. Acceleration is brisk and strong from the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, though we wished that the A250 offered a sportier exhaust or engine note.
Power is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. For the most part, gear shifts are quick and seamless, and when coupled with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, it makes for a rather fun-to-drive experience.
Adding to the experience is the sharp steering and rigid body of the A250. Turn in is sharp and precise, further adding to the sporting credentials of the A250. The rigid body also help, even when pushed hard through twisty roads. Paired with the lowered sport suspension, the A250 does make for a rather capable and fun machine.
While the A250 may not offer the comfort levels of the BMW 1 Series, the hatchback still manages to offer a considerably better ride comfort than its predecessor model. Bumps can still be felt from the cabin, though not to the extent of being as harsh as the W176-generation A-Class.
Continuing on the ride of the A250, we also noticed that tire and road noise was rather apparent on poorer road surfaces, possibly attributed by Mercedes-Benz’s choice of tires, which are Hankooks on this car.
The caveat with the lowered suspension, apart from marginally compromising ride comfort is that the A250 has a tendency to bottom out on some speed bumps, scraping the underside of the car. Of course, this can be avoided by going over speed bumps at a much slower speed.
During our time with the A250, we covered a mix of highways, city driving, and back roads. Fuel consumption from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka was pretty decent, as the trip computer recorded a low 5.9 L/100 km by the time we finished that trip. Traffic coming back from Melaka was a tad bit heavier, and the resultant fuel consumption was in the high 6L/100 km range for the A250. Still a pretty decent figure for a car of this calibre.
If what you’re looking for is a premium hatchback, the Mercedes-Benz A250 has a lot going for it – a lovely cabin, strong performance, improved comfort, and not forgetting, the revolutionary MBUX infotainment system.
Sure, at RM 263,888, the A250 does cost a pretty penny, but we reckon no other segment rival at this point of time can offer a cabin as gorgeous as the all-new A-Class. Never mind the ageing BMW 1 Series, even rivals such the Volkswagen Golf GTI cannot match the A-Class when it comes to the premium appeal of the interior.
We acknowledge that the A250 is far from being perfect, with small niggles such as the air-conditioning controls that feel cheap, while the lack of internet connectivity does hinder the full potential of the MBUX system.
Now, the wait for the Mercedes-AMG A35 begins.