Luxury brands face a special challenge when they make small cars. How can they maintain the comfortable, quiet cabin their buyers expect? Working in a smaller space, engineers must be on the top of their game to craft the kind of compact car that will appeal to the most demanding buyer. Mercedes-Benz has brought their very best to the 2020 A-Class sedan, and it's worth your consideration.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been available overseas since 1997, but for the first fifteen years it was a funky little hatchback. Then in 2012 the car got a redesign and became a real head-turning hot hatchback. When the performance gurus at AMG got ahold of it, the little hatchback became a serious pocket rocket. But for our purposes, history starts in 2018 when Mercedes revealed a plan to bring the A-Class to America as a four-door sedan in 2019.
The A-Class is available in basic form as the A220. Equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, the A-Class is rated at 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The little sedan carries a crisp 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with your choice of front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. You won't pay a penalty for choosing AWD; both will get you to 60 MPH in 7.1 seconds. That's a shade slower than an Audi A3, but if that's important to you, there's an AMG model that will bump the engine to 302 horsepower and drop the 0-60 time to 4.6 seconds.
Inside, the A-Class delivers a true Mercedes-Benz experience. If you haven't been to the Benz dealer lately, you might not know what that means. A new Mercedes-Benz is a technology powerhouse. There's a single screen stretching across to the center of the dash, with driver information on the left and infotainment and vehicle setting controls to the right. It's all controlled with a touchpad on the console, except for climate, which gets a set of real button controls below the dash vents.
Mercedes has given the A-Class some sporty seats, trimmed in Oreo cookie colors on the test vehicle, but you can choose basic black if you like. The interior is mood-lit with LEDs that you can program to your favorite color. If I had to come up with a criticism, it's that the A220 is a bit small for a full size adult. But that's the nature of a subcompact. Mercedes will happily show you the larger C-Class if you need a bigger car.
The A220 with front-wheel-drive starts at $32,800, and if you choose all-wheel-drive, $34,800. Portland drivers will want the 4MATIC AWD package, because no automaker has a better system. 4MATIC will get you over winter snows and deep water without any drama. As tested, the A220 was up to $46,100 including all fees, so it's definitely not an economy car. If you've been looking for a small car worthy of a premium designation, you should definitely check out the Mercedes-Benz A220.
2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC
Base price: $32,800
Price as tested: $46,100
Type: Subcompact sedan
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (188 hp, 221 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 24/34
Overall length: 179.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,395 pounds
Final assembly: Aguascalientes, Mexico
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