ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Mercedes A250 BlueEfficiency Engineered by AMG
When the new A-Class arrived for its road test, so did the wintry weather, but wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER relished the chance to review the car on a set of winter tyres.
MY review of this very smart looking Mercedes-Benz A250 coincided with some of the worst weather of the winter, but it did give me my first opportunity to road test some winter tyres in the conditions they were designed for.
The difference they make to the grip and handling of the car on roads packed with ice and snow cannot be underestimated and would almost certainly reduce the number of accidents caused by bad winter weather.
The tyres’ bigger block, or tread pattern, combined with softer rubber compounds which are designed to flex more in low temperatures than standard summer tyres, made a huge difference in snowy conditions and I would recommend that everyone should consider investing in a set for their own car.
Read my full article on winter tyres here.
The new A-Class, compared to the troubled car it replaced, is like comparing darkness and light. Apart from the three-pointed star and the letter “A”, it’s a completely new car.
This particular model has been tweaked by AMG, or perhaps I should say Engineered! In its Mountain Grey paintwork with red detailing back and front, the car looks superb – and I loved the grille, which almost sparkled like the night sky in the frosty sunshine.
Inside, the red trim theme continues, most noticeably with the red seatbelts, but look more closely and the Lava Black leather interior has red perforations and the air vents all feature red detailing which looks fantastic, contrasted against the silver controls and carbon-fibre effect dashboard styling.
The new A-Class is up to 160mm lower than the old A-Class depending on model, is 409mm longer and 16mm wider.
Customers can choose from five model lines, all BlueEfficiency, starting with the entry-level A180, then moving up to SE, Sport, AMG Sport and Engineered by AMG.
The new A-Class is big on safety and it’s radar-based Collision Prevention Assist system and Attention Assist come as standard equipment across the range, a first in this market sector.
A red warning light on the dash followed by audible beeps help to avoid nose-to-tail accidents.
Other features like Pre-Safe, Distronic Pro, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping and speed limit assistants are features from larger Mercedes cars which are available as cost options in the new A-Class.
The car I’ve been road testing is the range-topping Engineered by AMG version, which is more performance focused than the AMG Sport and features uprated suspension and steering, red brake callipers, 18in twin-spoke AMG alloys, and different ESP settings to allow the driver more freedom to enjoy the car’s handling before the electronics step in.
With freezing temperatures and icy conditions persisting while I had the car, exploring its performance limits were out of the question, but I did manage the occasional blast on an A-road, where the car’s performance potential was obvious.
During the international launch of this model in Slovenia, I had the opportunity to briefly drive the same model of car on an airfield through a slalom course, where its full 211bhp potential could be exploited.
The A250 Engineered by AMG behaved beautifully, making rapid changes of direction with good poise and balance, even at high speeds. With the ESP systems turned off, the car’s handling was still safe and predictable, with only a hint of oversteer at the limits of adhesion, accompanied all the while by an addictive boom from the exhausts as the car changed gear.
That same boom was evident on occasions in this car, and was rather addictive when you flicked the steering wheel-mounted paddle to select the next gear. On the downshifts, the throttle blips automatically when the gearbox is in the sport setting.
The A-Class is still quite a compact car, the boot isn’t huge and rear legroom is perhaps best described as adequate, but six-footers may struggle behind a tall driver or passenger.
That aside, I think Mercedes have done an excellent job with the design of its A-Class which is sure to win back some of the ground lost to rival premium manufacturers by its predecessor.
If you are thinking of buying an Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo V40, then the new A-Class should also be on your shortlist.
Watch the options list though – those extras can soon tot up – the base price of my test car was £28,775, but with all the extra equipment you would have had to fork out a fiver short of £42,000 – even the metallic paint was a £570 extra!
Four optional extras however, are definitely worth the money, and they are the winter tyres – and if you can’t store them yourself, then many garages and tyre retailers will look after them for you.
Read more about winter tyres here.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Mercedes A250 BlueEfficiency Engineered by AMG.
MERCEDES A-CLASS RANGE: From A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY 5dr (£18,970) to A 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport 5dr (£27,195).
ENGINE: 1,991cc, 211bhp four-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through a 7-G-DCT 7-speed automatic gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 149mph. 0-62mph in 6.6 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 33.6mpg.
Fuel tank: 50 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 148g/km.
INSURANCE: Group 34.
PRICE: £28,775 (£41,995 as tested).
WARRANTY: 3 years/Unlimited miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.
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