Sunday, August 9, 2020

2019 Mercedes-Benz A250 Hatchback Review


An entry level luxury car has the delicate job of luring potential buyers who are moving up-market to invest in the brand, while being careful not to undercut the brand's more expensive, and profitable models. For over a decade, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the tall-roofed B-Class for Mercedes-Benz in Canada.

This is no longer the case. In 2018, Mercedes has finally decided to bring the fourth generation A-Class to North America as its new entry-level offering for 2019. It comes in 2 flavors, the four-door sedan (A220), and the four-door hatchback (A250). The US consumers will only get the sedan, and we Canadians are blessed to have both. It is interesting to point out that the A250 is made in Germany, while the A220 is made in Mexico.

Thanks to Mercedes Canada, I have the opportunity to test drive the brand new A250 for one week. Below is my unbiased review.

The A250 is much more sporty and modern looking than the longstanding B-Class. The front fascia with its star-centered grilled, slim LED daytime running lights, and narrow LED headlights looks distinctly European. The large openings in the lower bumper are decorated with matte black slats for a performance-inspired appearance.

On the side, the A250 has a longer wheel base than its predecessor. The low stance and the elongated body makes the car look fluid and aerodynamic. It also helps to car to achieve low coefficient of drag. Sharply creased shoulder and sculpted side panels gives the A250 a sleek looking side profile. The large 18" wheels and flared side sills are unique to the AMG body styling, available in Sport and Night Package.

From the back, the wide tailgate with integrated spoiler continues to gives the A250 a hot-hatch vibe.
The tasteful twin chrome exhausts are purely decorative. While they are not actually connected to the tailpipes, they also don't get smoking black from the exhaust gas.

The exterior design of the A250 is certainly befitting of a luxurious vehicle with the minimalist design that projects confidence and sophistication. The optional AMG body styling that is seen on our tester certainly gives the A250 a much sportier vibe, and I wouldn't get one without it.

The interior of the A250 is what really sets the car apart from the mainstream. It is high-tech, luxurious, and elegant.

The first thing you will notice is the duel screen infotainment display, which I will talk about in the next chapter. The interior of the A250 turns into a nightclub after sundown with its mood lighting system. The RGB LED lights can be customized in various configurations including animated effects based on user settings. While I am normally not a fan of piano black trims, the reflective surfaces of the trims compliment the mood lighting very well. The use of genuine aluminum on the buttons, door handles, and aviation inspired air vents provides excellent tactile feedback.

The front cabin without the hand break lever and gear shifter feels extra spacious. The front seats are very comfortable. While they don't come with integrated massages, there is an option to activate kinetic seats. In this mode, the seats will automatically adjust bolster positions periodically to reduce fatigue. The seat adjustment buttons on the door panels are surrounded by faux wood panels instead of aluminum ones, but they are tastefully implemented.

The back seats are equally comfortable. The hatchback form factor provides excellent headroom, and the panoramic sunroof gives the interior an airy vibe. Taller passengers might find the legroom to be slightly limited though.

The A250 comes with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX). It is a new concept that is set to be an example of things to come. The MBUX consists of a few different components. First, the twin 10.25" displays that are positioned right next to each other to appear as one giant screen. The left screen sits right in front of the steering wheel and displays important vehicle information like the speed, fuel economy, and the trip information. The right screen, which is also a touchscreen, sits right on top of the center console. It is multi-functional, and can be configured to show pretty much anything the user desires. Standard A250 comes with dual 7" displays. You will need to choose the Premium Package for the bigger screens.

The second part of the MBUX system are the touch pads on the steering wheel. They are similar to the small touch pads I used to see on a blackberry. The left one controls the left display, and vice versa for the right. I love the fact that you never have to take your hands off the steering wheel to access pretty much all the functions of the car.

There is another way you can control the many functions of the car without taking your hands off the wheel. That is via the LINGUATRONIC voice assist. It is a natural language smart assistant that functions like the Apple Siri or Google Assist. Simply say "Hey, Mercedes", or press the voice command button, and you can ask the A250 to make a phone call, plot a new navigation route, close the roller sunshade, or change the interior light. The voice assistant can control basically anything that is not safety related. The system is smart enough to understand commands like "I am cold" or "I am hungry" to raise cabin temperature, or to find the closest restaurant.

The final part of the MBUX system is the track-pad that is located in the center console. There is a padded resting place for the wrist, which allows the fingers to scroll through the display menu or to hand-write inputs. I am not a big fan of the touch-pad. I prefer a rotary knob similar to the ones found in BMWs, but it is something you get used to rather quickly.

The other really cool thing about the new infotainment system is the optional virtual reality style navigation system. When you are close to a junction, the center display would pull up the video feed from the front camera, and superimpose arrows to show you exactly where to turn. It is a very cool technology and I only wish the arrows would appear sooner.

There are 5 USB C ports in the car. You will need the provided adapter if you are still using USB A charging cables.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The A250 comes with the following standard safety features:
  • Active Brake Assist
  • Adaptive braking technology
  • Tire Pressure Loss Warning System
  • One-touch SOS calling 
The following features are optional:
  • LED Daytime Running Lamps
  • MULTIBEAM LED headlamps
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Active Parking Assist
  • Active Distance Assist
  • 360 camera
The A250 has yet to be rated by NHTSA and IIHS at the time of writing, but it earns 5-star ANCAP rating in Australia.

The A250 is powered by a 2.0L Turbocharged inline-four that produces 221hp of horsepower and 258lb.ft. of torque. All that engine power is coupled to the wheels through the standard 7-speed dual clutch transmission. It is a powerful engine that gets the A250 from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds. The transmission is not the smoothest at low speed, but shifts promptly to provide a responsive drive.

The ride quality is excellent. The A250 handles corner with precision and composure while soaking up road bumps admirably. The steering is nicely weighted, but I would prefer a little more feedback. An ECO start/stop system automatically shuts off the engine at stoplights to save fuel. I am not a fan of this type of systems because you can't turn your wheels when the engine is off. Thankfully, the start/stop system can be disabled by the driver at any time.

The A250 is relatively fuel efficient. It is rated at 9.4 L/100 km city and 6.8 L/100 km highway. Our mostly city test drive returns a 10.5 L/100 km fuel economy rating.

Cargo Space & Storage
There is 370L of trunk cargo space in the A250. The 40/20/40 split folding rear seats offer a variety of cargo and passenger configurations. With all the rear seats folded, the cargo space is increased to 1210L. There is a shallow storage compartment under the trunk floor. That is also where you will find the tire repair kit.

In cabin storage options are plenty, The storage bin under the split-fold armrest is decently sized, and there is a dedicated storage tray for your smart phone in the front center console. I can't quite figure out what the fold-out arm is for, but it am guessing that it is there to keep your phone from jumping while the car is going through road bumps.

The Mercedes-Benz A250 is an exciting entry level luxury car. It offers great power, handling, and decent utility. But you are really going to buy the A250 for its handsome styling, premium interior, impressive tech, and most importantly, the 3-point star logo on the front grille. It is a car that gives you very few reasons not to buy. However, you will find the price to be significantly higher once you opt for all the fancy options.

Test Vehicle
2019 Mercedes-Benz A250 4MATIC Hatchback
$50,170 CAD As tested.
Mountain Grey Metallic

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