New models - Mercedes-Benz - A-class - A250 Sport
First drive: Mercedes A-Class back with a bang
Benz buyers queue for A250 Sport range topper as Mercedes returns to hatch market
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8 Feb 2013
AUSTRALIA’S appetite for hot hatches continues to grow, with Mercedes-Benz confirming that 50 per cent of all pre-orders for the all-new A-Class are for the AMG-engineered A250 Sport – the hottest model in the new hatchback line-up until the arrival of the full-house A45 AMG.
The front-wheel-drive baby of the Mercedes range returns to Australian showrooms on March 1 after a three year absence, ditching the tall-boy, triangular design of the original for a more traditional five-door hatch body style on an all-new compact car platform.
A-Class prices start at $35,600 (plus on-road costs) for the A180 BlueEfficiency 1.6-litre petrol, rising to $40,900 for both the A200 BlueEfficiency 1.6-litre petrol and the 1.8-litre diesel.
But it is the A250 Sport that is getting most of the attention, its sticker price of $49,900 rivaling that of the current Volkswagen Golf GTI ($40,490) once the Golf it is fitted with extras such as electric sunroof, automatic transmission and Xenon headlights that are standard on the Benz.
The price also puts the A250 Sport in competition with traditional rival BMW’s 2.0-litre twin-turbo 125i hatch that retails for $49,177.
The A250 Sport has the same 0-100km/h time – 6.6 seconds – as the next-generation Golf GTI that will launch this year, but neither car is as fast as the rear-drive BMW 125i that does the sprint in 6.4 seconds.
Audi’s current A3 Sportback 2.0-litre TFSI Quattro could also be counted as a key competitor, but that may change when the new model arrives in the middle of the year.
The A250 Sport is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine pumping out 155kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and features an overboost function that adds 10kW of power for up to 30 seconds.
Sports suspension and a sports exhaust system that has been enhanced for a louder engine note add to the sporty credentials of the flagship model.
Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the front-wheel-drive hatch has an official fuel consumption figure of 6.6 litres on the combined 100km cycle.
Drivers have the option of two different driving modes in the A250 Sport – Eco and Sport. Either can be used if the manual mode is selected.
Hot hatch enthusiasts will appreciate the fact that Mercedes-Benz called on its AMG performance arm to engineer the A250 Sport, testing it at the Nurburgring.
As reported by GoAuto, the A-Class will get the full AMG treatment in the form of the fire-breathing 245kW turbo-petrol A45 AMG that is set to arrive in Australia in the second half of 2013 and sit well above the A250 Sport with a price about $80,000.
The new A-Class is built on Mercedes-Benz’s versatile MFA platform that spawned the current generation B-Class and will be the basis for the upcoming CLA small sedan that is scheduled for a release in the second half of the year.
As well as sharing a platform, the A250 Sport also uses the same powertrain as the recently-released, range-topping B250.
Power and torque figures are identical for the two small German-built cars, but the A250 Sport is 0.1 seconds quicker to 100km/h – 6.6 seconds compared with 6.7 for the B-Class – while the B250 has a slight edge in fuel efficiency with a reading of 6.5 litres per 100km.
Despite the fact that the B250 is just $400 cheaper than the A250 sport, Mercedes-Benz says the B-Class will appeal to family buyers looking for a bit more space than they will get in the smaller A-Class.
The new A-Class is 454mm longer and 16mm wider than the previous model that was discontinued in 2010, but unsurprisingly, the height has been reduced on the sleek new hatch by 160mm.
Customers who were hoping for a re-imagining of the original A-Class will now have to look to the higher-riding B-Class.
The similarities to the venerable Golf GTI don’t end with the price. The A250 Sport features red highlights on the lower front and rear bumpers, and on the rings surrounding the Bi-xenon lights that are reminiscent of the red detailing on the Golf.
Styling flourishes that differentiate the A250 Sport from other variants include AMG 18-inch alloy wheels, side skirting, twin exhaust and Mercedes’ sporty ‘diamond grille’ that has the three-pointed star featuring prominently at the centre.
The Golf GTI-esque red theme continues in the cabin with red seatbelts (a no-cost option to delete), red stitching on the sports seats, front centre armrest and on the AMG flat-bottom nappa leather steering wheel.
Rounding out the sporty interior is the carbon fibre-look material that dominates the dash and also features in the centre of the speedo.
For $2490, buyers can opt for the AMG Exclusive Package that includes red stitched Artico upper dash, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control with rear vents and AMG branded floor mats with red stitching.
Standard equipment in the A250 Sport includes ambient lighting, electronically operated park brake, media interface with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, reversing camera and a panoramic electric sunroof.
Already awarded a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2012, the A250 Sport features nine airbags, brake assist and collision prevention assist systems, a driver fatigue warning and Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe system that uses seatbelt tensioning, closes the windows and sunroof and adjusts the electric seats in an emergency.
While local representatives of the German car-maker would not be drawn on exact numbers of the order bank, they said the A250 Sport had generated the most interest, followed by the A200 petrol and the entry-level A180 petrol coming third.
Initial concerns about the availability of A-Class stock for the Australian market appear to have been addressed with Mercedes-Benz corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis confirming that supply is “looking good for the year”.
*Plus on-road costs
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