by: Mike Ginsca,
Canadians really like their hatchbacks. So much so that Mercedes-Benz has introduced the A250 in hatchback form for the first time to the Canadian market. We also get the A-class sedan like the US market but no hatch for them. So what’s the new A250 hatch like? Read on…
Engine – The only engine that is available with the A250 is a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4. It produces 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from a very low 1,800 rpms all the way to 4,000 rpms before it starts to steadily decline. The peak power number is reached at 5,500 rpms before it too starts to decline. For the majority of drivers, the power is enough. The car gets off the line relatively quickly with Mercedes claiming a 0-100 km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds. But if you do want more power out of a hatch, the upcoming A35 and A45 AMG models should satisfy your needs.
Back to the A250, fuel economy is descent with Mercedes-Benz claiming a city fuel economy figure of 9.9 L/100km (23.8 mpg) and 7.0 L/100km (33.6 mpg) on a highway. During my time with the Mercedes A250 4Matic, I managed 9.6 L/100km (24.5 mpg) in mostly city driving.
Transmission – A 7-speed dual clutch automatic is the only transmission offered with the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A250. In everyday driving conditions, it is smooth and fast changing between gears as one would expect from a DCT. However when you “give it the beans”, the transmission is surprisingly slow to switch between gears when the rpms reach redline. Whether this has something to do with preventing boost surge or something else, I don’t know, but it’s noticeably slower to change gears at near redline rpms than at low and mid-range rpms.
Braking – While the A250 doesn’t have the big 4-piston brakes of its GLA45 AMG cousin, the upgraded Sport brakes on this test vehicle do a great job of stopping the car. Brake pedal is firm and requires very little input during normal conditions to bring the car to a stop. Forward collision alert and emergency braking are standard features on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A250.
Handling – Small hatchbacks always tend to have a playful side and the Mercedes A250 is no different. Driving on twisty mountain roads around the Vancouver area is a joyous experience in the A250. The steering is precise and quick to respond to driver inputs. Steering effort does change depending on whether you’re in Comfort or Sport mode but steering feel is just as lackluster in both. In Sport it just feels artificially heavier. Thankfully there is an Individual mode where you can keep the engine and transmission in Spot but have Comfort steering.
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Ride Comfort – The ride of the Mercedes A250 is superb. The suspension absorbs all road imperfections and doesn’t translate them into the cabin. Even with the Sport seats as part of the Sport package, this test vehicle proved utmost comfort whether I was driving on Vancouver’s notoriously potholed city streets or the smooth mountain highways.
Interior Space – The front seats provide a good amount of adjustability so that both short and tall occupants are comfortable. Rear occupants however don’t have as much leg and headroom depending on how tall they are and how tall the person in front of them is. At 6’4”, I was struggling to get into the rear seats behind my driving position. The rear seats fold 40/20/40 for versatility and great luggage capacity in the trunk which is 370 L (13 cu-ft) with the seats up and 1,210 L (42.7 cu-ft) with the seats down.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Overall the 2019 Mercedes A250 is a quiet car in most situations. Daily city driving and highway driving are relatively quiet driving situations. When in Sport mode, there is some engine noise coming not from the engine, but from the speakers. Yes, this car also has fake exhaust noises like many other premium vehicles but I think this bothers only true gearheads.
Interior Design – While this is the least expensive Mercedes-Benz vehicle that one can buy, it doesn’t feel like a “cheap” vehicle on the inside. Materials have a premium feel throughout the cabin apart from a few plastic panels near the legs of the front occupants. The double 10.25” screens are not as much of a distraction as I first imagined when seeing them for the first time. All of the switchgear and vents have a premium feel to the touch and make a satisfying click when operating them.
One thing that may be distracting to some is the ambient lighting. It is bright in its brightest setting and can change to a vast array of colours. It can be turned off but I personally like the flashiness of the ambient lighting.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – One of the most noticeable changes to the 2019 A250 is the new infotainment system. Dubbed the MBUX, it has shiny new graphics and a more organized menu system. It can be controlled via the touchscreen, the center console knob, or via Blackberry style touchpads mounted on the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are available with the Premium Package but I found that Android Auto doesn’t fully utilize the beautiful 10.25” screen. Also I had a lot of trouble with Bluetooth connections. The car would always connect with my phone but bluetooth audio streaming only worked half the time.
A new addition to the MBUX is the natural voice recognition system. It will recognize most natural sentences and provide the appropriate response or command. For example you can say “Hew Mercedes, I want to go to the Vancouver airport” and the navigation system will provide you with a route to the airport. During my time with the car, I found that it worked about 80% of the time while other times it had trouble recognizing certain words.
Exterior Design – The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A250 takes some of its styling cues from other Mercedes vehicles as one would expect. The headlights have similar DRL accents as the CLS. The taillights have some GLC lines. The body only features smooth and curvy lines. Overall it is a good looking design that doesn’t scream “look at me”. That’ll be the job of the AMG models later on.
While this is a completely new model for the Canadian market, the A-class has been in European markets for decades. In fact, it is actually in its 4th generation and it shows what Mercedes has learned over the years. It is a very well refined and fun to drive hatchback that is relatively not that expensive for what it is. The hatchback A250 FWD starts at $35,990 CAD and $37,990 CAD for this 4MATIC version. But of course this being a Mercedes-Benz, the costs do inflate once you add options. As equipped, this A250 breaks the bank at just over $50,000 CAD before fees and taxes. A lot for a hatchback. But a base A250 with only a few packages is still the best way to go as it is one of the best premium small cars on the market right now.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca
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Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.