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In a badge-conscious market, we investigate whether the current flagship A-Class has the substance to challenge the hot-hatch establishment...

Evolving from a midsize MPV-like vehicle into a hatchback, the previous-generation W176 Mercedes-Benz A-Class was tasked with changing the profile of the typical A-Class buyer. Aimed at younger motorists and those who had never considered a Benz before, this racy generation of the A was designed with a healthy dose of aesthetic character while offering dynamic ability enthusiasts appreciated. The result? The giant-slaying A45 AMG hyper-hatch and a closely fought comparative test in September 2013 where the A250 Sport was pitted against the class-leading Golf GTI to prove its mettle as a contender in the hot-hatch arena. Milder versions, however, were less enticing.

Five years later, the new W177 A-Class has improved on its predecessor’s shortcomings by offering more refinement and tighter build quality, as we found with our earlier A200 road test. This new sportier A250 is the range-topping baby Benz (until the A35 and A45 arrive, that is) and occupies a unique space in a competitive segment (there’s no longer an equivalent BMW 125i, while Audi also doesn’t compete at this R600k price point).

Built into the base price, LED headlamps, electrically folding side mirrors, AMG-Line body kit, lowered comfort suspension and AMG-branded 18-inch wheels add a strapping yet sophisticated aesthetic to the already handsome hatch. These stylish, understated additions allow the A250 to fly under the radar amid brightly coloured rivals of bold yet divisive design. Overlook the diminutive “A250” badge on the back and there is little to hint at the performance on offer. Boasting impressive standard kit, as with other premium German brands, the options list can rapidly elevate the price, however. This particular test unit was fitted with R162 522 worth of extra toys. For the interior, ambient lighting, AMG-Line mats and two-tone seats, an additional touch-pad control unit and extended “Hey Mercedes” MBUX functions are added over and above the A200.

Another difference – despite their confusing badging – is a 2,0-litre engine under the A250’s bonnet in place of the A200’s 1,3-litre mill. The four-cylinder turbocharged unit produces a strong 165 kW at 5 500 r/min, 10 kW up from before, and the same 350 N.m available from 1 800 r/min. With power delivered to the front wheels via a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the new A250 is exactly 0,1 seconds quicker to 100 km/h than the previous version tested by CAR, recording a time of 6,71 seconds in 38-degree heat. It’s also quieter at higher revs than the A200’s raucous new powertrain.

Underneath the chic bodywork, a multilink rear suspension setup replaces the standard A200’s torsion-beam arrangement. Our test unit was fitted with the optional R44 000 engineering package which adds adaptive dampers, keyless entry and larger brake discs. This suspension affords a layer of suppleness to the ride in normal driving conditions. What’s more, body roll through corners is excellently controlled even in the default comfort setting; with sport mode activated, it firms up the suspension a tad too far and should be kept for smoother stretches of tarmac.

The run-flat Bridgestone Turanza T005 rubber audibly notifies the driver when their limits are being approached in the corners. Yet, when asked to deal with putting the 165 kW down in a full-bore start, they grip well, catapulting the A250 ahead with modest amounts of wheelspin even with the dynamic traction control turned off. The A250 feels more akin to a mature, sophisticated hatchback, and it’s around town where its smooth, cosseting nature is most appreciated. It also returned a very competitive 7,8L /100 km on our 100 km fuel route.

It happens to make an excellent tourer, too, and gone are the previous A-Class’ poor noise, vibration and harshness characteristics. The new A makes a passable impression of a C-Class at the national limit. It’s not without dynamic flaws, though. Predictable and manageable understeer has been engineered into the chassis for tight corners and the lack of an electronic or mechanical differential means acceleration towards the exit of a bend results in a chirping inside tyre. The steering meanwhile, is light and precise but totally devoid of feel.
CAPE TOWN – On an ordinary day, Franschhoek Pass represents a fairly intimidating collection of curves. But when you add a fierce Cape storm to the mix, there's a chance you'll need a fresh pair of underpants should you be fortunate enough to make it to the other side. However, today I'm at the helm of the new Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport and as I navigate the tight twists and turns I can’t help but feel at ease. Why? Well, turns out the A250 is rather a capable, rounded hot hatch.

The previous-generation A250 Sport had something of a tough time competing against the Volkswagen Golf GTI. When we pitted them against each other in the September 2013 issue of CAR magazine, we concluded that although the A250 Sport was an impressive first attempt at a hot hatch, it lacked the overall balance that defined the GTI. Sure, it boasted a dynamic and engaging feel, but it was essentially underpowered and not particularly comfortable.

Fast forward to the present day and the A250 Sport has returned, spoiling for a fight. Similar to before, it boasts a turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, but now this unit generates a more appropriate 165 kW (plus an unchanged 350 N.m of torque). It retains its front McPherson and rear four-link suspension arrangement, but softer springs have been installed alongside an adaptive suspension system that ultimately helps render it more comfortable.

As far as the engine is concerned, the difference in performance is immediately noticeable. Thanks to a twin-scroll turbocharging system that works in conjunction with a snappier dual-clutch gearbox, the A250 Sport is able to leap off the line with more immediacy than before (thanks to very little in the way of turbo-lag). Since the roads are soaked with water, it's not possible to tease out the full scope of the A250 Sport’s performance abilities, but its dynamic prowess nevertheless shines through.

The vehicle we're driving is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Turanza rubber. The latter, together with the cleverly fettled suspension setup and smart electronic stability control and traction control systems, means that the A250 Sport has no problem sticking to the road, despite the nasty weather.

This new A-Class model is also noticeably more refined than before. Very little engine noise finds its way into the cabin, even in the sportiest of driving modes (which enthusiasts may not see as a positive). Furthermore, the revised suspension and fairly high-profile tyres serve up an impressively damped ride that is leaps ahead of that of the previous model. In comfort mode, the A250 Sport wafts about in a manner one might expect from a far larger car, while selecting sport stiffens things up appreciably, providing access to a more focused experience.

Something that detracts from this engaging experience, though, is the electric steering system. Like most modern arrangements, the steering is light, but it unfortunately offers very little feedback. In addition, it's not the most precise nor "natural" feeling set-up, something compounded by a fairly aggressive speed-variable function (still, the latter is a characteristic the driver will likely quickly adapt to).

The A250 also features the Stuttgart-based brand's new MBUX interface (complete with artificial intelligence), which was covered in detail by senior associate editor Ian McLaren in his driving impression of the A200 7G-DCT from Croatia back in April.

With a base price of R593 300, it’s some R44 700 more expensive than the Volkswagen Golf GTI (unlike the previous A250 Sport, which was priced closer to its German rival). Apart from the dynamic select system and its adaptive suspension arrangement, plus the digital dash, the A250 Sport doesn’t offer much more in the way of standard kit, either.

Ultimately, this new A250 Sport is unlike its forebear in that it does not feel particularly hard-edged. In fact, Mercedes-Benz appears to have nailed the brief this time, targeting those who seek a comfortable, everyday hot hatch rather than a hardcore performance machine (the upcoming A35 and A45 will, after all, provide those sorts of thrills). Based on these first impressions, it's safe to say the A250 Sport offers a more rounded hot hatch experience than the model it replaces, even if it is a little softer in places.

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather bolster spartial leather: artificial
  • Leather upholstery: partial suede-cloth + artificial leather (opt artificial leather / opt leather)
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Lumbar support adjustment: opt front
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Run flat tyres: Optional
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Driver knee airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Rear side airbags: Optional
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 7 (opt 9)
  • Lane departure warning: opt lane keeping assist
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Optional
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Directional turning headlights: opt LED
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: opt LED
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing brake lights
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Sports suspension: Standard
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: opt adaptive
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Eco, Comfort, Sport
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: touch
  • Head up display: Optional
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Optional
  • Cruise control: std (opt adaptive)
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Optional
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + rear + boot
  • Central locking: keyless start (opt keyless access)
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: start (opt access)
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Auto dimexterior mirrors: driver
  • Sun roof: opt panoramic
  • Panoramic roof: Optional
  • Electric seat adjustment: opt driver
  • Memory for electric seat adjustment: opt driver
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: opt rear / opt surround view
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Towbar trailer hitch: Optional
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 662 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 7
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automated dual-clutch
  • Transmission name: 7G-DCT
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 225/45 R18 (opt 225/40 R19)
  • Reartyres: 225/45 R18 (opt 225/40 R19)
  • Length: 4419 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1796-1992 mm
  • Height: 1445 mm
  • Wheel base: 2729 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 11.0 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 370-1210 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 1210 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1455 kg
  • Load carrying capacity / payload: 510
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1965 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 725
  • Towing capacity - braked: 1600
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 43l
  • Fuel consumption urban: 8.4 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption extra urban: 5.4 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption average: 6.5 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 149g/km
  • Power maximum: 165 kW
  • Power maximum total: 165 kW
  • Power peak revs: 5500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 113.4 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 350 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1800-4000 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 350 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 241 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 6.2s
  • Maximum top speed: 250 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1991 cc
  • Engine size: 2.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.0T
  • Engine + detail: 2.0 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 2
  • Warranty distance (km): unlimited km
  • Maintenance plan: Standard
  • Maintenance plan time (years): 5
  • Maintenance plan distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): service interval indicator max 20000 km
  • Brand: Mercedes-Benz
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 44002859
  • MMVariant: A 250 AMG A/T
  • Introdate: 2019-02-18
  • DuoportarecordID: MercA-Cl_4h10

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Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG A/T A250 hatch AMG Line for sale in North West from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
Used A 250 AMG A/T A250 hatch AMG Line availbale from the following auto dealer:
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