Road Test: the 'talking' Mercedes-Benz A 250 Limited Edition
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Mercedes-Benz is offering a performance-boosted “Limited Edition” of its class-leading A-Class hatchback.
The new A 250 4MATIC is offered with a 2-litre turbocharged engine, compared with a 1.33-litre engine in the A 200 hatch.
The larger engine delivers 165kW of power and 350 Nm of torque.
With Mercedes-Benz’s all-wheel-drive system thrown in, the Limited Edition A 250 is just $3000 dearer than the A 200.
The bigger engine means the A 250 accelerates from 0-100km/h in just 6.2 sec, 1.8 sec quicker than the A 200 hatchback.
Visually, the two models are almost identical.
Only discrete 250 and 4MATIC badges on the tailgate distinguishing the more powerful model from its lesser sibbling.
Both models come with the same basic specfication, which includes the currently class-leading MBUX operating system that includes Hey Mercedes voice-activation.
This is the car you find yourself talking to constantly, whether changing the radio station or adjusting the climate control.
It greets you by name on the windscreen cockpit (a pair of 10.3in digital screens) when you hop in the car.
It helps emphasise just how much the car can be personalised to suit the driver, and there is more to evolve over time.
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After driving and talking to the car for several weeks, the system becomes more accustomed to your speech, your moves and regular driving habits, and adjusts the car’s responses accordingly.
The test car came in black, with black Artico leather seats, adjustable by the usual Mercedes door-mounted controls familiar from the entire Mercedes range.
The test car included the seat comfort package, providing adjustable front seats with memory function.
Behind the wheel the A 250 provides a tidy and comfortable drive, with nicely balanced steering that has plenty of feel through the steering wheel.
It doesn’t always take off like a rocket, as the seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox winds through the gears. But it has paddle shifters on the steering wheel, and these can be used to liven-up the performance. This is one model where the paddles are definitely a worthwhile feature.
The 4Matic AWD system can divert up to 100 per cent of torque to the rear axle for brisker launches, and the car has drive modes that allow the driver to set the car for the appropriate conditions.
Even so, the A 250 is not exactly a hot hatch, in the style of the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the Audi S3. Rather it is a well-specced and smart premium hatch that provides a comfortable and satisfying drive.
The ride is relatively firm, but even under heavy acceleration the car is poised and relaxing to drive. The A 250 benefits from four-link independent rear suspension, rather than the less sophisticated tortion bar set-up on the A 200.
There is some road noise inside the cabin, which could do with more sound insulation, although you have to remember the car is fitted with an all-wheel drive system and so some additional road noise may be inevitable.
The AWD system comes into play only when the car believes additional torque is required in the rear to provide greater traction. The result is a reassuring amount of grip on the road, building driver confidence in the vehicle.
The improved acceleration and performance means the A 250 uses more fuel, with Mercedes-Benz claiming a combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.6 litres per 100km travelled.
During our test drive we managed 6.9 litres, using the car’s eco drive mode.
The recommended retail price for the A 250 is $63,900, and our test car was fitted with the night package ($1490, including 18in 5 twin-spoke alloy wheels and tinted privacy glass rear of the B pillar), the seat comfort package ( $1290, including fully electric and heated front seats with memory setting), and the driving assistance package ($1790, which includes active distance assist distronic cruise control and lane change assist systems), bringing the recommended retail price to $68,470.
The car looks good in black, although it is not a colour I would recommend if you’re often driving in dusty environments.
The A Class range is expanding, with an entry level A 180 and two AMG models arriving later this year. We tested a limited edition A 250, which provides good value when compared with other models. A specced-up A 250 will arrive later in the year, but will be more expensive.
Perhaps the only optional extra our car lacked was adaptive dampers which would help soften the ride, but I found the ride in the test car firm but comfortable, and would happily go without that option.
AMG models will be strengthened and have more power and performance, but will also come at added expense.
In the meantime the A 250 Limited Edition offers the latest technology and safety features available, without braking the bank.
MERCEDES-BENZ A 250 4MATIC LIMITED EDITION
PRICE:$68,470 (as tested)
Pros: Punchy but economical 2-litre engine
Cons: Tight fit in the rear seats