Mercedes A-Class plays familiar, catchy tune

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.

Mercedes-Benz A 250 SPORT, (W 176), Fahrveranstaltung SlowenienThe 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.

Mercedes-Benz A 250 SPORT, (W 176), Fahrveranstaltung SlowenienThe 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?

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11 Comments

  1. Yes- first merc that doesn’t look like you have to have grey hair to drive it. Bit smaller than my og9-3 but that might be ok.

  2. I remember a few years ago when someone at Saab said that studies had shown that Saab and Mercedes never competed for the customers. It’s funny because if I had to trade in my Saab for a German car, it would be a Mercedes (probably a C class). One big reason is that the speedometer is in the middle. 😉

    BTW, nice and classy site layout! The only think caught my eye is that “Swa” in the headline need a little kerning… 🙂

  3. Price aside, of course I would consider it, as well as Audi’s offering. Having moved from a 96 to a 900 I always said I didn’t want to go any larger than the C900. wife (dot) com loved her 9K but that was always too big for my preference, but perfect for family trips. She drives a 9-3 SS these days, that suits me reasonably well but I miss the hatch. Wish Saab could have gotten it together…

  4. We don’t get the A-Class here in Canada, but we do get the new B-Class. To be honest, I have a hard time telling them apart. They look similar, have the same 2.0l/210hp engine, and are within 10cm of each other.
    I test drove both the B- and C-Class last week, in the middle of a snowstorm.
    The B is a decent car, priced aggressively (30K base in Canada, same as a GTI). It drives well, although it’s much less responsive than my 9-3.
    It’s not the right car for me, but I can see many former Saab owners going for these, or for the C Class. They have that solid feel and European interior design that’s missing in most Japanese, Korean and American cars.

  5. Yes, I would consider it. If my 9-3 Sport Sedan finally gives up, Mercedes seems to be the brand to look for. Not based on facts or theory, but just by driving them. Comfort with a sporty touch is becoming a rare commodity these days, Mercedes still has it.

  6. Still thinking about the Volvo XC60 R-design to be honest. The less powerful versions feel like an appliance, so I’m hoping this one has more omp. Otherwise I see a Ford C-Max hybrid in my future.

  7. No. Too pricey for what you get (in a smaller size). And I am not a big fan of the faux-carbon bits. When I replace my 2000 9-3 hatch, I can’t go to something smaller. But the early shots of the BMW 3-series hatch look interesting.

    1. That $49K price is for the AMG version. The regular 2.0T should be much more reasonable. The current Canadian B-Class is cheaper now than the 9-3 was 10 years ago.

      1. Alas, for us Aussies $49K is for the A250 Sport here. Forecasts are for the AMG A45 to be around $80K in Australia.

        Looks like the Alfa decision to cut prices hasn’t flown through to Mercedes just yet 🙁

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