Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted October 17, 2013 10:32
Hot as a hatch should be
What is the Mercedes-Benz specialty?
If you said comfortable, luxurious sedans, then many would agree with you. But what if Merc dedicated their efforts to producing a truly fun, striking and exciting little hatchback? Do you think they could pull it off?
With this new A 250 Sport, they may have done just that.
The new A 250 Sport is the brand's entry into the hot hatch segment with 5 doors, proper sporting proportions and a punchy little turbo engine. The new car looks quite stylish, properly befitting its status as a member of the Mercedes line up. It is, however, quite reminiscent of the VW Golf, undoubtedly the standard setter for the German hatchback segment.
Derived from the 2011 Concept A Class, the A 250 Sport features LED strips on the headlamps, a sporty, aggressive front end and a dynamic stance on the street. It looks like a proper hot hatchback given this Sport model's larger rims, the striking grille, large openings on the lower bumper and those rather cool red brake calipers.
The aggressive, almost tuner-feel continues to the cabin as the A Class gets a pair of sport bucket seats along with über-cool red seatbelts for all passengers. This Sport model gets a dry carbon-style dashboard trim, circular A/C vents similar to the SLS AMG, as well as a 'floating' (faux-loating?) central LCD on the dashboard. A neat surprise is that the rear seats do offer more legroom that what I initially expected, given the bulkier sport seats.
After settling in, the driver is greeted by a thickly rimmed steering wheel; all the more to enjoy on a twisty mountain road. One thing; you might want to adjust the driver's seat prior to getting in, as it is adjusted via a knob (similar to Recaro bucket seats) instead of a lever. In front of the driver is a dual binnacle gauge cluster with a large LCD for fuel economy readouts and other information; it can be controlled via the directional buttons on the left spoke of the steering wheel. The transmission stick is also behind the steering wheel, freeing up a bit of space on the center console.
The features-laden A 250 Sport also gets plenty of high tech goodies like cruise control, Bluetooth, USB and a fully integrated drive computer. The central 'floating' LCD system is controlled via the COMAND APS knob and buttons you would normally find in other cars in the Mercedes line up.
Beneath the red bonnet is a 2 liter inline-4 engine, matched with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. It doesn't sound special at first, but upon closer inspection, you'll realize that it's turbocharged, and thus makes a very potent 211 PS at 5500 rpm and 350 Newton meters of torque, all of which are driven through the front wheels via the 7-speed dual clutch gearbox.
Driving it around town, the Mercedes A 250 is a bit stiff, lending much credence to the 'Sport' emblem. The transmission (in 'E') is smooth, but if you're looking for a car designed for comfort, the A 250 Sport might not be for you.
This A 250 can, however, be driven efficiently quite easily. Without activating the turbocharger at about 2500 to 3000 rpm, you can easily get 9.9 km/l in city driving (light to moderate traffic). Yes, it's a surprising number. On the highway, mileage of 18.5 km/l is also doable at an average speed of 80 km/h. Again, both those figures were achieved by just letting the 7-speed gearbox do its thing.
With that out of the way, it's time to have some fun.
From a standstill, the A 250 Sport can easily reach 100 km/h in just under 7 seconds. Pretty quick. There's noticeable torque steer if you're bent on mashing the throttle, but it's always controllable. Top speed is quoted at 240 km/h, but it's difficult finding a place to safely push the needle to that speed.
Where the A 250 Sport shines is in the corners. The suspension that wouldn't be loved on our pockmarked, Third World city streets can thoroughly be enjoyed on an open stretch of mountain road. The springs, dampers and chassis rigidity all combine to provide a very dynamic drive that, in my opinion, closely rivals the BMW 118d Sport we drove a while back. And yes, the boost of the turbo is quite addictive.
The Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport is one of those very rare cars from a company that typically produces comfortable, executive sedans. Sure, they have AMG models, but those are all very serious driving machines... intimidating cars to even the most well trained driver.
The Mercedes A 250 Sport is just pure fun in a pint sized package, a properly hot hatch that could introduce the brand to a younger generation of clients and customers.