MERCEDES-BENZ A250 SPORT 4MATIC

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VALUE

The ar­rival of the facelifted A-Class range meant small price rises but, typ­i­cally for Benz, a boost to stan­dard equip­ment. In Aus­tralia, the 250 Sport is the most pop­u­lar choice in the A-Class line-up and a $53,500 start­ing sticker is pretty good — com­pared with a Golf GTi from $40,990 — when it means AMG 18-inch al­loys, key­less go and a gi­ant panoramic sun­roof.

DE­SIGN-TECH

There are mi­nor facelift-style body tweaks, in­clud­ing worth­while LED head­lamps, but the big me­chan­i­cal shift for 2016 is an AWD pack­age to make the car more driver friendly. It also picks up AMG Ride Con­trol sus­pen­sion to tame the some­times un­ruly be­hav­iour of the pre­vi­ous

model and smooth the ride over bumps. A 6.3-sec­ond sprint to 100km/h is good for a sporty hatch, com­ing with the com­bi­na­tion of the all-paw grip and a tur­bocharged 2.0-litre en­gine with an ex­tra 5kW. The out­puts are now 160kW and peak torque of 350Nm from 1200rpm, which means it’s easy to get go­ing. The seven-speed dou­ble-clutch auto is smooth and ef­fec­tive with pad­dle-shifters for keen driv­ers.

SAFETY

A five-star ANCAP rat­ing is al­most com­pul­sory for any Mercedes and the A250 scores with, among other things, an airbag for the driver’s knees and an ac­tive bon­net for pedes­trian pro­tec­tion. There are rear-view cam­era and auto safety brak­ing.

DRIV­ING

EN­GINE

The af­ford­able A-Class sports model is a bet­ter and more re­fined drive in 2016 thanks to the sus­pen­sion changes, which give a more com­pli­ant ride and trans­mit all of the power to the road. It’s a hoot at full boost, when you get dis­creet pops from the ex­haust. The seats are great and the in­te­rior fin­ish is very classy. But the cabin still feels a bit cramped and rear­ward vi­sion is pinched.

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