Mercedes-Benz A250

Low rent A250 delivers great Mercedes value

This is our second bite of Merc’s recently renovated A250, but this one’s the low rent version with the mean spec dash and it also lacks a few bits, bobs and frisbees. Is that an issue? Well, some will pay the extra  money for that full Starship Enterprise dash that fills the whole panel, rather than endure this cheaper cheat with its two crumby little boxes that the info must peep through. But at the cost of that privilege, then others perhaps won't.

The real issue here lies around the essential driver’s dials, which while still quite effective, are pretty small and compromised. You must however select the digital dials you want to see and the logic one uses to achieve that, well, defies logic and even befuddles that brilliant little thumb pad on the right hand steering stalk. The similar button on the left stalk continues to control the more than adequate centre dash MBUX, which while it lacks the ultimate slickness of the full cream version, is still probably the best infotainment system on the market. 

So, while this one doesn’t quite pack in all of Mercedes-Benz’s latest sci-fi tech, it is thereby priced to better compete by virtue of the delete option savings. It’s had more than just a nip-and-tuck though – the latest A250 is basically all new and is 120mm longer, 16mm higher and 6mm wider, rides on a longer wheelbase, is 20kg lighter and its arches can now accommodate 19-inch wheels, all while once again resetting the hatchback aero record book with a 0.25 Cd.

You notice some of the changes by the better visibility out of the car, never mind the extra roominess straight away – there’s more shoulder, elbow and head space, while refined pillars make for that 10% better visibility and on a whole, this thing's interior is next level for a hatchback. 

The 165kW 350Nm 2-litre turbo A250 Sport is claimed to return 6.4l/100km and 164g/km CO2, but it did the zero-to-hundred half a second quicker than Benz’ claims in our tests – 5.81 seconds 0-100 was actually impressively close to our front-wheel drive acceleration record. Driving the front wheels through 7G DCT dual-clutch transmission, suspension depends on engine and driver preferences and Dynamic Select alters the undercarriage set-up at the touch of a button.

Most comfortable on the road, my only real complaint is that in sport mode the steering becomes too heavy and takes away from the car’s naturally nimble feeling, to make it feel a bit artificial. Straight line performance and handling exceeded my expectations and A250 even sounds surprisingly good — especially for an old four-pot.

I also like the look for the car — especially the front end, which looks great, although the rear could look better and I feel the facelift probably never went far enough to sort that out. But then show me any fat-arsed hatchback that looks good from the rear….

The Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport kicks off at R596K and this one is pretty close to the price, although it did pack quite a bit of spec anyway. It’s a fantastic all round car that delivers a real Mercedes for a little more than Golf GTI money, while probably outgunning that car in many areas you’d least expect. A faux S-Class sensations at Golf money — what more do you need? – Giordano Lupini

Images - Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz A250 hatch
Engine: 165kW 350Nm 1984cc turbo petrol I4
Drive: 7-speed automatic FWD
0-60km/h:          2.89 sec
0-100km/h:          5.81 sec   
0-160km/h:          12.90 sec
400m:          14.0 sec @ 166km/h
80-120km/h:            3.63 sec
120-160km/h:          5.71 sec       
VMax:          250km/h 
Fuel:          6.5 l/100km
CO2: 148 g/km
Warranty/Service:    2y Unl/5y 100Kkm
LIST PRICE:          R598K
RATED:           8