It’s compact, looks good and performs well enough to meet the needs of many buyers in this segment. Plus, the three-pointed star cachet is undeniably desirable.
The A-Class started out as a subcompact MPV in 1997 and transformed into a bigger sporty-looking hatchback from the third generation.
Now in its fourth generation, the W177 A 250 takes the fight to the iconic VW Golf GTI, with Audi and BMW not offering any worthy rival on local shores at present.
The A 250 uses a 2-litre turbocharged engine that makes 224hp and 350Nm — similar numbers to those produced by the outgoing VW Golf GTI (228hp/350Nm) but at a RM24,000 premium.
The all-new Golf GTI Mk8 that was supposed to debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show — cancelled because of the Covid-19 scare — has since pulled ahead with 245hp/370Nm, meaning the A-Class has some catching up to do. Actually, it already has. Mercedes-Benz has just started production of the A 250 e plug-in hybrid in Germany so that would be the way forward in elevating performance while cutting emissions.
Sixteen months since it started going on sale locally, the regular A 250 hasn’t lost its lustre.
The exterior is notably less dramatic than the interior.
Aiming to stir emotion using Mercedes' Sensual Purity design philosophy, the car's outer appearance smacks of clear contours and "seductive" surfaces. Creases and lines are minimised in favour of form and body.
The W177 model is longer, wider and taller than its W176 predecessor. The car has a sharper sloping bonnet to confer a sharknose-effect that is complemented by the diamond-style grille. It is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character lines along the sides.
Sleek LED headlamps with chrome elements and torch-like daytime driving lamps are matched with 2-piece tear-drop taillights and a heavily waisted greenhouse that emphasise the width at the rear.
The car comes in an AMG Line exterior with larger wheel arches housing 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, which reinforce the sportiness of the new A-Class and make it sit more squarely on the road.
Interior appointment in AMG Line is sweet. The cowled cockpit of yore has given way to a high-resolution Widescreen Cockpit with touchscreen control, setting new standards in the segment.
The all-digital instrument display can be switched to different styles to complement the turbine-look air-vents and leather multifunction sports steering wheel.
Safety and assistance systems include knee airbag, Keyless-GO, Active Brake Assist, Active Parking Assist, Reverse camera, automatic high-beam control and cruise control with Speedtronic speed limiter.
The current A-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz model to feature the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system.
MBUX can be activated by the words, “Hey Mercedes”.
The intelligent language assistant supports numerous infotainment functions such as destination input, phone call, music selection, as well as climate control and lighting. However, it’s a bit laggy for now and will probably need software updates to improve the usability experience.
The system is also said to recognise and understand almost every sentence occurring in the infotainment functions and vehicle operation.
The MBUX can also be accessed via the touchscreen, touchpad on the centre console or touch control buttons in the steering wheel.
Front row sports seats are comfortable and supportive while legroom in the rear is fine but the seats lack thigh support.
The boot is big and can be enlarged by folding the rear seats forward.
While glossy black panelling looks premium, they tend to attract dust and smudges.
Control stalks look too plasticky for our liking.
The A 250 features two USB-C ports, so you will need to buy an adapter if your phone or device uses the older USB-A cable.
Get it going and the A 250 moves with the nimbleness of an athlete. A Cd of 0.25 makes the car more aerodynamic for improved fuel economy and reduced wind noise.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine squeezes out 224hp at 5,500rpm and 350Nm from 1,800 to 4,000rpm. So these are robust figures for a front-wheel drive car with a high degree of drivability,
It goes from 0 to 100kph in 6.2s and onwards to a top speed of 250kph.
It uses a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that have four drive modes namely “Eco”, “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Individual”. Gear changes are rapid and smooth.
In standard Comfort mode, it is already a pretty powerful car with plenty of reserves to make overtaking or quick lane changes a cinch. Uphill climbs was hearty and fast.
Switch it to Sport mode, and things really liven up. It’s as if the A 250 is wind up and ready to show off its muscular potential.
The steering is sharp and instils confidence in pushing the car ever faster.
The ride is comfortable and the car feels planted across the rev range.
The RM263,888 A 250 is a talented little hatch with good looks and ballsy fun to boot. It proves that one doesn't have to scale the AMG ladder to get an automotive high.
Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line
Engine: 1,991cc turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine
Maximum power: 224hp at 5,500 rpm
Maximum torque: 350 Nm at 1,800 rpm to 4,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed 7G-DCT (dual clutch)
Acceleration (0-100kph): 6.2s
Top speed: 250kph
Fuel consumption (combined): 6.5 to 6.2 litres per 100km
Features: LED headlamps, AMG Line exterior and interior, 18-inch 5 spoke AMG alloy wheels, aluminium trim, steering wheel in nappa leather, AMG illuminated door sill panels, ambient lighting, MBUX multimedia system, 10.25-inch media display and 10.25-inch combination display, touch pad, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, kneebag, 7 airbags, PRE-SAFE positioning for front seats, Keyless-GO, Active Brake Assist, Active Parking Assist, reverse camera, automatic high-beam control, cruise control with SPEEDTRONIC speed limiter
Price (OTR without insurance): RM263,888