The car in the picture has a two-litre turbo, a (small-ish) hatchback, a well sorted suspension setup delivering good FWD handling and a nicely appointed interior. It’s young, edgy and it’s a Merc. Yes, a Mercedes Benz.
Whilst all the world’s a-flutter about the AMG A45 that’s going to be launched at the Geneva Motor Show next month, there’s a real world Mercedes A-class for sale right now that makes a reasonable argument for itself. It’s the new A250 Sport.
The Mercedes A-Class is no longer the triangular tipping-cow of the city-car segment. This all-new car with it’s completely revised and contemporary styling, deliberate stance and posh interior definitely puts the class into A-Class.
It’s no secret that hot hatches have gone premium, which is exactly why companies like Mercedes and BMW are joining a party once ruled by cheaper marques. Whether they’ve got the performance to match it with the Ford Focus ST, VW Golf GTI or RenaultSport Megane isn’t the point – they’ve got the brand. They’re not selling performance hot hatches to drivers, they’re selling them to brand-aware rich folks who grew up in a Golf, enjoyed the experience but want a bit more bling.
The A250 Sport is no handbag, however. It brings a turbocharged two-litre engine putting out 155kW (208hp) and 350Nm of torque. With its 7-speed dual-clutch auto the car moves from 0-100km/h in just 6.6 seconds.
That’s not going to strip the enamel from your teeth, but it’s undeniably quick.
The suspension has been tweaked by AMG and road tests so far have had nothing but praise for the car’s composure through the twisty bits. It’s NOT going to compete on the road with a focused, driver’s hot hatch (pardon the pun), but then as I wrote above, it’s not meant to.
The A250 Sport is well equipped, too, with faux-carbon, faux-suede, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, color display screen, bluetooth, iPod connectivity and six-speaker stereo, rain-sensing wipers, Xenons, panoramic sunroof and most importantly, not many options. One option is a $2,500 AMG pack that adds upgraded leather trim, heated seats (which should be standard, really) and a touch of sport with red stitching throughout the cabin.
I know I’ve got a lot of current or former Saab drivers who read this site, so the obvious question is….. would you consider it?
In the negative column, it’s smaller than any of Saab’s recent cars. It might be a hatch but that contributes to the car’s looks more than to its practicality. Rear legroom and headroom are tighter than they should be (though that’s not going to worry a driver) and the cargo space would be negligible unless the seats were folded down.
The positives are considerable, however. It’s got plenty of safety kit (including 9 airbags!) and whilst the price is hefty at $49,990, fitting the Merc’s standard swag to other hot hatches will have them approaching that price with just a few strokes of a pen.
It’s a little bit of Form leading Function, but if you were in the market for a prestige hatchback with a bit of zip and a lot of good looks, would you consider it?