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Mercedes-Benz A-Class A250 2018 review
The best of the current A-Class line-up is a compelling proposition if you want a comfortable, supremely posh-feeling, moderately zingy hatch
Mercedes-Benz A-Class A180d AMG Line 2018 review
New version of entry-level Mercedes puts limo-like technology, refinement and comfort in a small, desirable package
It’s come a long way, the A-Class. All the way from the 1990s car and its infamous elk-avoidance issues to this: the all-new Mk4, which looks to be so posh that it’s virtually a shrunken CLS.
A haughty hatch, perhaps - but in a good way.
From launch, the A-Class is automatic-only and is offered as an A180d, or as A200 and A250 petrol models, with manual gearboxes and more powerful diesels and petrols due to flesh out the range by 2019.
As has already been discussed in our international drive of the A180d, the A-Class gets torsion beam rear suspension on everything up to and including the A200. The A250 we’re testing here gets multi-link rear suspension as standard.
Really rather good. It’s got a moderate zing to it – as it should have given the 221bhp 2.0-litre engine.
A pleasingly throaty rasp fills the cabin as the engine builds revs smoothly and with enough willingness that you’re often tempted to stick it in Sport and wring it out. For all that, if you toggle to Comfort, then you can float about in an impressively refined, calm manner.
The seven-speed dual-clutch auto can get panicky about steep descents, but most of the time it’s slick and well-judged, and it responds snappily to paddle-pulls too, which is good as there’s no manual ’box coming to this model.
As ride and handling balance goes, the A-Class hits a sweet spot provided you want a comfy daily driver with neat and tidy manners when you find a road worth making the effort for.
Sling it through some corners and it tucks in, settles down and fires you out the other side in a gratifyingly precise fashion. It’s easy to enjoy this sure-footed front-wheel-drive car, even if it feels like Merc could have added real sparkle with a bit more effort on the anodyne steering. More texture and better weighting would have gone a long way.
It’s no VW Golf GTI, then, but then the A250 isn’t really trying to be a hot hatch. It’s more of a moderately bubbly commuter that’s aiming to set standards for comfort and interior poshness, which it does quite convincingly.
Ride comfort - even over roads complete with gaping potholes and that high-frequency, corrugated road surface that the UK specialises in – is great. Usefully better than that of a Golf GTI. There’s some body float, and a fair bit of noise as the suspension works, but the damping is supple and precise, and keeps you isolated from all but the really gnarly bits of Tarmac.
We did have a go in an A180d on the torsion beam suspension and there’s a big drop in comfort. Even on smaller wheels, the less sophisticated suspension feels, well… less sophisticated. Choppier and more prone to some sloppy wheel control, particularly around town.
And the interior? It looks and feels great, but it’s worth spending the £1395 on the Executive equipment line pack to get the huge media screen; without it, the two small standard screens are lost in a slab of plastic.
Or if you can find yet another £1000, you can have the equally fantastical driver’s display (shown here) and a digital experience that’d feel at home in a top-spec limo. We even found the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control worked well, although regional accents fluster it easily.
Practicality and roominess are just fine, but an Audi A3 will give you better rear passenger space and much better rear visibility.
Yes, if you fancy high-brow tech, serious brand swagger and an easy yet satisfying drive.
The A-Class sets new standards for infotainment and interior lustre in this class, and it’s about the comfiest, too, even if it’s not the most thrilling to drive at this price.
Talking of which, with £5k down on a three-year PCP contract, the A250 AMG Line costs around £420 per month (after you’ve added the Executive equipment line), which is reasonable for a brand-spanking-new model, but you’ll get a Golf GTI DSG or Audi S3 S tronic for sub-£400.
Still, if the swish looks and even swisher interior do it for you, the A250 is the best version of a really likeable new hatch.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class A250
Where Cotswolds Price £30,240 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1991cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 221bhp at 5500rpm Torque 258lb ft at 1800rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1445kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 6.2sec Fuel economy 45.6mpg CO2 141g/km Rivals Audi A3 2.0 TFSI S tronic Sport; BMW 125i M Sport; Volkswagen Golf GTI
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