Road test: Mercedes-Benz A250 4Matic 2019 review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 11 September 2019

Tim Nicholson takes the new Mercedes-Benz A250 4Matic for a road test.

  • Thumbs up

    Big changes across the board ensure the new A250 4Matic is a standout in the premium hatchback segment.

  • Thumbs down

    Steering wheel-mounted gear shifter is still a pain point and the lane-keeping aid needs work.

  • Perfect for

    People interested in the latest tech and a smile-inducing drive experience.

  • Verdict

    Mercedes-Benz has a winner on its hands with the new A250 4Matic. It is fun to drive, laden with the latest tech and finally has a high-quality interior that lives up to the Benz badge.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has come a long way since the original quirky tallboy hatch changed the premium compact segment back in 1997. 

The 2012 A-Class was a more conventional-looking hatchback, but was criticised for cheap cabin materials and some quality issues. Thankfully, the German car-maker has made improvements to every area of the latest version, which arrived in Australia late last year.

The A-Class hatch range – a sedan is also now available – kicks off from $42,300 for the A180, which uses a 1.3-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

A couple of sporty A-Class AMG variants top the range, starting with the 225kW/400Nm AMG A35 for $67,200, while the ballistic 310kW/500Nm AMG A45 hot hatch hits showrooms early next year.

Powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering 165kW of power and 350Nm of torque, the A250 is more warm hatch than hot, but its performance is in no way disappointing.

The $54,800 A250 4Matic tested here lines up against BMW’s 125i ($49,990) and Audi’s A3 40 TFSI quattro ($52,000), as well as the more affordable Volkswagen Golf GTI ($46,190) and sporty versions of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane. 

Our test car was fitted with four options packages – Communications, Driving Assistance, Seat Comfort and Vision as well as premium paint – which increased the price as tested by about $8000 to $62,840.

While the $2490 Communications package that adds an excellent 12-speaker Burmester audio system is worth considering, the heated and power front seats in the Seat Comfort package should be standard gear in a circa-$55k Mercedes-Benz.


The biggest changes to the A-Class, which is based on an all-new ‘Modular Front Architecture’ platform, are in the cabin. All variants come standard with the hi-tech MBUX multimedia system that allows users to operate certain functions by saying a command that starts with “Hey Mercedes”. For example, if you want the temperature changed you can say something like, “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold”. It will then ask what temperature you prefer. Or if you say, “Hey Mercedes, I’m hungry”, a list of the closest restaurants will appear on the navigation section of one of the two 10.25-inch digital screens. 

MBUX is always on so you don’t need to press a button to activate it. It’s a neat party trick and it actually works. Although a recent stint in the new BMW 3 Series proved that its system was slightly more intuitive than the Benz’s. 

Benz has also upgraded the Comand controller that lives in the centre console and is used to access almost all functions housed in the digital screen. It is drastically better than the system found in older Benz models and the menus are now more logically laid out. Good job Mercedes. 

The overall quality and feel of the cabin represents a huge leap forward from the last A-Class. It has high-quality materials throughout, cool striped aluminium trim on the doors and dash, lovely perforated materials on the dash and the steering wheel, and cool ambient lighting. The front sports seats are firm but super supportive.

Rear seat space isn’t too bad for a small hatchback. There’s plenty of head room and I could sit comfortably behind my driving position. There are no rear-seat air vents and the awkwardly shaped rear bottle holder means only small bottles will fit.

The boot has increased by 29 litres to 370 litres with the rear seats up. It’s a good useable space which is helped by the lack of a spare tyre – the A250 uses run-flat tyres. However, when lowering the second row to increase boot space, you have to move the front seats forward so the chunky rear headrests can stow properly.

Interior view of a red Mercedes-Benz A250 4Matic
Interior door view of a red Mercedes-Benz A250 4Matic


Another quirk is the steering wheel-mounted gear shifter. We still don’t know why Benz persists with this in many of its models. It just doesn’t make sense, particularly in a right-hand drive car. It doesn’t take much to accidentally shift to neutral while driving. 

Other than that, the A250 offers a truly engaging drive experience. There is some lag and it is a touch jolty from a standing start – put that down to the combination of a turbocharger and dual-clutch transmission. The seven-speed box, however, is intuitive at speed.

It’s quick off the mark and corners beautifully, thanks to the well-balanced chassis that helps the A250 feel planted and the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, but there was a hint of understeer on a tighter bend. In dry conditions the A250 is grippy, but the run-flat tyres were challenged a little in the wet. 

The suspension is tuned for performance so the ride is firm, but it’s not harsh. The cabin is not as hushed as a new Mazda3, but it is well insulated from outside noise.

Switch to Sport mode and the A250 4Matic transforms into a serious hot hatch. It sounds and feels significantly quicker than in Comfort mode, which is still impressive.

The A250’s lane-keeping aid feels a little aggressive at times. When you veer too close to a lane marking, light braking is applied and the car is steered back into the lane, but it is not as seamless as some other systems. 

The Benz’s official combined fuel figure is 6.6L/100km, but we recorded 8.8L/100km after a week of mostly city driving.

Mercedes-Benz A250 4Matic

PRICING

List price: $54,800 plus on-road costs.
Price as tested: $62,840 plus on-road costs.
Model range: $42,300 to $67,200 plus on-road costs.

DRIVETRAIN

2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive.
Power: 165kW@5500rpm.
Torque: 350Nm@1800rpm.
Wheels: 225/45 R18.

FUEL

95 RON, 51-litre tank.
Consumption: 6.6L/100km (government test), 8.8L/100km (RACV test).
Emissions: 150g/km CO2.

STANDARD SAFETY

Nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking, Pre-Safe accident anticipatory system, blind-spot assist with exit warning, reversing camera, active lane-keep assist, attention assist.

STANDARD FEATURES

Wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, MBUX multimedia system, sports seats and sports steering wheel, keyless entry and start, remote engine start.

WARRANTY/SERVICING

Three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. One-year/25,000-kilometre service intervals.