Yes, you’re reading the subtitle correctly. Occasionally, a vehicle comes along that defies the characteristics of a segment. Take the Beetle for instance, or Fiat 500 and the Miata. They alter the way we view the segment and what we should expect from this type of vehicle. The A250 does precisely this.
Hatchbacks conjure up images of compact, utilitarian workhorses that are truly the Swiss Knives of the automotive world. They act as your runabout during the week, convert to your friend’s moving van on Saturday and will carry you and all your friends to the nightclub on Saturday night. Some are offered in go fast flavours and others in more mundane versions, but, they all pull off the quick change moves with ease. The A250 4Matic Hatch does all that, but does it with panache in an attractive and sporty package with a long hood and forward lean to the grill.
How? You may ask. The answer is the interior. The A250’s interior is a place of beauty and technology. The reality is that the majority of hatchback buyers are younger and by nature, more technically savvy, demanding high levels of connectivity. Mercedes obliges with the Mercedes-Benz User eXperience, aka MBUX. The system’s primary interfaces are two 10.25” displays housed in a single flowing enclosure from the driver seat to the center console creating the illusion of a single screen spanning nearly two feet across the vehicle. The system is a cloud-based interface that can learn based on your needs and inquiries. It can nearly control everything via voice interface, from adjusting the temperature to opening the panoramic roof. Speaking of nightclubs, the A250, and for that matter, most modern Mercedes can customize the interior colour to match your mood in 64 different variations or from a set of predetermined multi light patterns that Mercedes has chosen for you. Finally, the system controls can be done through a center console touchpad, wheel-mounted touchpads, voice or a touch interface screen. Combined with this technology is a mix of soft-touch materials, satin touch metallic surfaces on the switchgear to the turbine inspired center vents. The leather seating is comfortable and supportive yet, not too aggressive, but, rather equal parts supple and firm. Leg and headroom in the front and back is more than adequate, and despite my 6’2” frame, the rear cabin was a comfortable place.
To ensure all your technology has a means of getting you from place to place, Mercedes uses a 2.0L inline-four good for 221 bhp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The result is a mid-6-second sprint to 100. Power is delivered thanks to a crisp 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that responds well in comfort mode, but tends to hold revs a bit too long in sport. The engine also has a unique boxer like sound that fills the cabin when in sport mode, being a boxer 4 fan, I loved the noise. The figures and performance levels definitely put the A250 into hot hatch category, however, for true hooligan like fun AMG will be offering the A35 Hatch putting out 302 horsepower as well as 295 pound-feet of torque from 3,000 rpm and will propel the A class to 100 in the mid-4-second range. Expect to see the A35 on sale later in 2020. The driving mannerisms are sharp and precise. The wheel feels adequately weighted, and the A250 driving dynamics are predictable and provide an enjoyable experience day to day. The vehicle tends to pamper the driver and hence it is not as aggressive or engaging as say a Golf R, which sells for around the same. To ensure that driving can be enjoyed all year round, Mercedes 4matic system delivers power to all 4 wheels when needed. In default, the system primarily acts like a front-wheel-drive car delivering power to the rear under slippery conditions or under hard acceleration while in sport mode.
The A250 Hatch changes what the hatch segment should be seen as. It provides a massive amount of luxury and technology and alters what other manufacturers should be offering. Direct competitors are the BMW 1 series and A3 from Audi, and although both are capable vehicles on their own, they lack the wow factor of the A250 Hatch 4matic. With an as-tested price of $48,500.00 the A250 is not cheap, but it offers a lot of vehicle for the price; it introduces a new set of buyers to the Tristar name with the ultimate goal of making them lifelong buyers.