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First UK Drive: Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First UK Drive: Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line
Canít stomach a Golf GTI? Confused as to where a Mercedes-AMG A 35 sits in the hot hatch hierarchy? Give an A 250 a whirl.

 



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Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line

4 4 4 4 4

The Mk4 Mercedes A-Class has already impressed us as an A 200 and also in the hottest version so far, the Mercedes-AMG A 35. But if you want a fast A-Class that doesn't look obvious, you could do much worse than aim at this A 250, an oft-overlooked model which was one of our 'dark-horse faves' of the old Mk3 range.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line
Pricing: A-Class range from £23,075; 250 AMG Line from £30,240, car as tested £34,450
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 141g/km (VED band 131-150: £205 first 12 months, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 45.6mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.2 seconds
Power: 224hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 350Nm at 1,800rpm
Boot space: 370-1,210 litres

What's this?

The Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. It's powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels through a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Figures of 224hp at 5,500rpm - a relatively lowly figure - and 350Nm on tap at just 1,800rpm mean the A 250 is a proper little hot hatch: 0-62mph comes up in 6.2 seconds, while the top speed is 155mph, although Mercedes makes no mention of a limiter so it's likely that the A 250 only juuuuust squeezes up to the magic '250km/h' mark.

This means there's a fair amount of performance available in the Mk4 A-Class family, given this thing is the least potent of what will likely be three fast versions. The Mercedes-AMG A 35 we already know about, with its 306hp/400Nm version of the same engine in the A 250 driving all four wheels; think of it as a rival to the likes of an Audi S3 or a Volkswagen Golf R. And there's still space for a mega-mental A 45 AMG, most likely with 400hp+ so it can eclipse the pesky Audi RS 3, at the top of the tree.

The A 250, then, is a Golf GTI rival, but it really doesn't shout about it. Whereas the Mk3-based A 250 could have tell-tale spoilers and the like, the Mk4 iteration is quite subdued, even in Jupiter Red (an AMG colour) and on some lovely 18-inch titanium grey alloys. However, we approve of the understated appearance of this performance hatch, albeit we're still not 100 per cent sold on the A-Class' aesthetic; the CLS-aping front end is good but the rear is a little too generic for our liking. No qualms about the Merc's magnificent interior, though, albeit the A 250 AMG Line does not get the full twin-10.25-inch Widescreen Cockpit unless you specify the £3,595 Premium Plus package, which does (at least) bring in a lot of other goodies for the cash - things like heated front seats, folding exterior mirrors, 64-colour ambient lighting and a panoramic glass sunroof, among more. Nevertheless, with Premium Plus and also Augmented Navigation (£495) fitted, the £30,240 A 250 suddenly moves to become a £34,450 car.

So is it exciting enough to justify that cost, in a world where the likes of the stunning Hyundai i30 N and Honda Civic Type R exist? Both of which seriously undercut the A 250? Time to find out.

How does it drive?

Rather well, truth be told, as the Mercedes turbocharged 2.0-litre engine is a bit of a doozy. It revs out cleanly, despite that 5,500rpm point of peak power, and it sounds good while doing so, simultaneously not doing an awful deal to tug the front wheels of the A-Class this way and that during hard acceleration in low gears. The seven-speed 'box is a well-judged companion for the motor, too, providing good responses in either of its fully automatic or paddle-shift modes, and the rations are nicely spread to make the most of the four-pot's ample power. Furthermore, we drove the A 250 on a test day alongside a load of much more expensive vehicles from the German company, all toting V6s and V8s and adaptable suspension, and yet it probably provided the stand-out drive on a B-road of the lot.

Its fixed-rate springs and dampers do a marvellous job of balancing both body control and ride comfort in equal measure, so the car feels taut and limber being hustled through a series of tight, nuggety curves, while it's cosseting and amenable once you throttle back and let the A-Class settle into more regular driving duties. Indeed, the overall refinement of the car is second to none in this class, the A 250 proving easily the match of the Golf GTI - for so long the 'go-to' hot hatch as the best all-rounder - on this score and actually putting itself top of the pile for interior finishing. There's nothing remotely comparable which has a better cabin than the Mercedes, when equipped with the Widescreen Cockpit, it's as simple as that. So, while the A 250 is not the most effervescent performance five-door on sale right now, it is one of the most cultured and high-class vehicles of this type that you can currently lay your hands on.

Verdict

The Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line, with the Premium Pack, is certainly not cheap at £34.5k as tested and there are a few hot hatchbacks available for significantly less cash that will put bigger grins on your face when driving them. However, the sheer quality of the Mercedes' cabin finishing and its drivetrain do go a long way to justifying its expense, and the company can offer some stonking PCP deals to offset the windscreen sticker to a degree. Therefore, think of the A 250 as an even more refined alternative to a Golf GTI and it starts to make a whole lot of sense - and so it remains one of our favourite A-Class models of all.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 17 Dec 2018









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2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2018 Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.   







 

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