Since the previous generation A-Class came along, Mercedes-Benz has been rocking the premium compact segment. This new one brings along a big shift in design and noticably improves on many areas. But just like the previous A, there are some problems here. Here’s what we thought of the A250 in particular, which we got to test in mid-February.

Exterior

The new A-Class brings a fresh ‘sensual purity’ design language. It’s quite an interesting look, especially from the front. The bonnet tapers down to a pretty narrow end and makes ways for a sort of ‘shark nose’ front grille. I really like what they were going for.

The new A-Class is quite stunning from the front
The 18″ AMG Line wheels look great on this premium hatch
From the rear, the A-Class is a little TOO clean
Inoffensive, generic, maybe a little too bland from behind

My only two complaints is that the car looks rather generic from the rear and that the panel lines interrupt and otherwise great looking design. I think it’s safe to say that Mercedes-Benz have the most distinctive looking premium hatchbacks on sale today. The AMG Line trim on this particular model lends a sportier touch, particularly with those 18” alloy rims.

Interior

The interior too is all-new. It’s a much cleaner looking place to be, but it doesn’t have quite the shock value that the previous A-Class had.

Glossy black plastic and leatherette materials fill the cabin

Mercedes-Benz went big to achieve the look of a high-tech cabin. You’ll find the displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system ‘merged’ in a single floating panel. It’s quite a good move and perhaps they’ll genuinely merge the two displays in the next iteration for a more fluid look.

There are clearly 2 displays here sharing one floating panel

In terms of interior design, it’s quite sculpted and minimalist. There’s more glossy black plastic than before. Some may like it, some may not. But it’s difficult to look past some of the strange choices made here. The signal and gear selector stalks are both a little too plain. The previous A-Class featured chunkier, weightier stalks.

While they blend into the rest of the cabin’s design, there’s really nothing premium about these stalks

Impractical Technology

Mercedes-Benz really wanted to convey that the new A-Class is the high-tech millennial-friendly vehicle of the future but I have to say they missed their mark there.

Voice commands don’t work great on smartphones, they work worse in cars

First of all, MBUX’s voice command recognition ended up detracting from my drive many times. It’s hyper-sensitive to any mention of “Mercedes”, even if the full “Hey Mercedes” phrase is not used. There was even one instance when reversing out of a driveway I was asked. “What Mercedes is this?”

Give me buttons, knobs and dials. That’s all I ask for

This triggered the voice assistant and shut off my reverse camera. I had to put the car back in Park and back into Reverse, which took less time than figuring out how to cancel the command and reinitiate the parking camera.

Even rear passengers need Type-C to Type-C cables

Another inconvenience I had was with charging my phone. There are no traditional USB Type-A ports in the A250.

Surely one USB Type-A connector could have been left around

And while I do appreciate that Mercedes-Benz going all-out with their adoption of USB Type-C.

No Wireless Qi Charging pad here

In the A-Class, every USB port requires a Type-C connector and there are four of them. Surely even one familiar USB Type-A would be reasonable to leave around for emergencies. This set up might leave you with a flat phone battery if you don’t pack the right cable for your journey.

Keep in mind, even a brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t come with a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable.

This would be acceptable still if the A250 came with Qi charging, but no, it does not in Malaysia.

Maybe in 4 to 5 years time, the A-Class’ interior will start to function the way it’s imagined, but in today’s world it’s just an inconvenience.

Drive

I think by now you may get the impression that I didn’t at all like the A-Class but that’s not true. It scored very well in one particular area: dynamics.

Looks like the brake disks are as large as they could squeeze on

The A250 is EXTREMELY capable. It’s a little faster than you expect, but it has the grip and steering feedback to keep things in control. It’s as powerful, capable and neutral as any of their rivals and you will utterly enjoy pushing this car around any corner. I know I did.

224hp and 350Nm of torque from this turbocharged 2-litre sends it flying from 0-100km/h in just over 6 seconds! This is proper hot hatch territory and Mercedes-Benz nailed the driving performance here perfectly.

Now here’s a car that can tear up B-roads

The caveat here is that it’s still a hatchback. Many still equate the Benz brand with comfortable, large barges, but this is far from it. I managed to transport 2 parents and 1 grandparent from KL to JB and it was a tough journey for us. To be fair, the A-Class wasn’t intended for such use. If you’re an urban hunter looking to pick up just ONE chick on a weekend then the A250 is absolutely well suited to the task.

Value

This fully imported hot hatch comes in at RM263,888 which isn’t what I’d call cheap. That’s more than you need to pay for a locally-produced 1.5-litre C200. Are there ‘hotter’ hatches for this money? Arguably yes, but that three-pointed star does tend to justify the price tag.

Suppose you were looking for something that put comfort and practicality ahead of performance, you might want to consider the slightly less expensive Volvo XC40 T5. You’re still getting a premium badge and premium looks. That car comes with both USB Type-C and USB Type-A ports as well as Wireless Qi Charging.

But for a DYNAMIC and PREMIUM hatchback experience, nothing comes close to the Mercedes-Benz A250 at the moment.

Mercedes-Benz A250 Specifications

Engine: Inline 4, direct injection, turbocharged
Capacity: 1991cc
Gearbox: 7-speed Dual Clutch Automatic
Max power: 224hp @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 350Nm @ 1800rpm
Top Speed: 250 km/h
0-100 km/h: 6.2 seconds
Price: RM263,888