MERCEDES-BENZ A250 SPORT 4MATIC
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.
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.
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.
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.