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Driven: Benz A250 blasts in

Limited Mercedes-Benz A250 heralds higher-spec, priced, full-time version due Feb

7 Dec 2018

AUSTRALIA’S performance-hungry appetite has prompted Mercedes-Benz’s local arm to introduce its more potent A250 hatchback a few months early, though specification levels will mirror its A200 sibling and stock will be limited.

Speaking to journalists at the local launch of the fourth-generation A-Class’ second variant, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific (MBAP) head of media relations and product communications Jerry Stamoulis would not confirm the exact number of A250s on offer, but said the full-time version will land around February with more equipment and, likely, a higher pricetag.

“There’s no set number just yet, we were able to get early production in the same spec as our A200, so we jumped on the opportunity,” he said.

“What we will have later, will be no different to what you can order today. If you want an AMG kit on this vehicle, you can order it, so how it ends up won’t look any different to the customer.

“I guess the opportunity for customers now, is that if they want the A250 in the A200 spec, they can get that now.

“We will have another A250 4Matic, which will replace this, but at a higher spec.”

As previously reported, the A250 will land in local showrooms priced at $49,500 before on-roads, just $2300 more expensive than its A200 sibling, but $5700 cheaper than Mercedes’ outgoing mid-tier small hatchback.

GoAuto understands that the full-time A250 variant will likely mirror its predecessors circa-$55,000 pricetag, which gives room for the AMG A35 hot hatch due late next year to compete against the Audi S3 and BMW M140i around the $60,000-65,000 mark.

Mr Stamoulis said he expects the A250 to be the most popular variant in the A-Class premium small car range that launched locally in August with the A200, which influenced MBAP’s decision to take the lower-spec, higher-performing version two months early.

“A250, without a doubt, is the most important model,” he said.

“It was the volume seller (in previous-generation form), it was 60 per cent of the volume at least until the facelift (in January 2016), and then after that it changed depending on the editions we had.

“When we launched A-Class, people wanted an A-Class, they didn’t care what it was … but the demand started before the car even arrived for A250, and we worked closely with the factory to get something.

“To get those early cars was high on the priority list.”

In addition to the full-time A250 coming on stream in February, MBAP will also introduce an entry-level A180 at the same time powered by a 100kW version of the A200’s 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine and equipped with the brand’s Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system.

Though pricing is yet to be revealed for the new A180, it could dip below the $40,000 threshold as the outgoing version was priced from $38,700.

Though specification levels of the A250 match the A200, the key differentiating factor is the former’s 165kW/350Nm 2.0-litre force-fed four-cylinder engine that replaces the latter’s 120kW/250Nm 1.3-litre turbocharged unit.

Power outputs are up over the preceding A250 by 5kW, while torque remains steady.

With outputs sent to the road via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Mercedes’ front-biased 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, the A250 can blitz the zero to 100km/h sprint in just 6.5 seconds.

For comparison, the $50,000 Audi A3 2.0 TFSI quattro Sport outputs 140kW/320Nm and the $49,990 rear-drive BMW 125i develops 165kW/310Nm – both from 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines.

Fuel consumption in the A250 is pegged at 6.6 litres per 100km, which is a 0.1L/100km improvement over the preceding A250.

The A250 is also fitted with a multi-link rear suspension setup in lieu of the base A200’s torsion beam.

Standard equipment in the A250 includes sports seats, nine-speaker sound system, push-button start, five USB-C ports, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a large 10.25-inch display to house the MBUX infotainment system and all-digital, customisable instrumentation.

MBUX allows natural language voice control, digital radio, satellite navigation, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Wi-Fi hot spotting, and an artificial intelligence-powered learning assistant.

Growing in size over the previous generation, the A250 can accommodate a 370-litre load in the rear – up from 341L – while also featuring more head- and legroom in the second row.

Options also mirror the A200 with a list including a head-up display, surround-view monitor, and AMG Line Sports Package that bundles various interior and exterior sporty styling tweaks.

Standard safety gear includes cruise control, reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking, nine airbags, blind-spot assist with exit warning, traffic sign recognition, active parking assist and driver fatigue monitor.

For the first 11 months of the year, MBAP has sold 3844 examples of its A-Class small hatchback, a 12.1 per cent decrease over the same period last year.

The A-Class is currently only bested in the over $40,000 small car segment by the Audi A3 (3910), but leads the BMW 1 Series (2369), Volvo V40 (689) and Lexus CT200h (565).

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