2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC: Big performance in a small package
I had just about given up on the concept of luxury subcompacts before I drove the remarkable Mercedes-Benz A220. Affordable small cars are so good these days, why pay more for upscale versions, I thought? Almost all of the lowest-priced cars and SUVs can now be outfitted with sophisticated engines, leather interiors and almost all the latest automotive technologies. Isn't the point of a subcompact to save money?
The first few minutes in the silver A220 opened my eyes. It did not drive "like a small car built by Mercedes-Benz should." It drove like a Mercedes-Benz, regardless of size — solid, powerful, refined, comfortable and quiet. The turbocharged 2.0-liter demonstrated its punch without trying. Neighborhood potholes that unsettle larger vehicles disappeared under its supple suspension. The steering was so precise, familiar streets felt like road courses to be challenged.
And that was before pushing the switch that set it in the more performance-oriented Sport mode.
The sleek sedan also showcased its ample technology. The most notable feature was the long display screen that stretched along the top of the dash, encasing both the gauge package in front of the driver and the infotainment portion above the center console. It is an attractive and clever way of eliminating the "stick up" infotainment screens that look like temporary add ons in so many small vehicles.
Several levels of the A-Class are available. The basic one comes with with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine rated at 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a responsive 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that delivers the power to the front wheels. Ours came with the company's excellent 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system that improves traction in wet weather conditions.
Inside, the A220 delivered all the Mercedes-Benz good, from the supportive and comfortable front bucket seats to the trademark large, circular air vents that easily overcame a drawback of many subcompact vehicles — anemic hearing and cooling. The air conditioning system on our test car felt more like those found on full-size luxury cars.
The technology was also top class. They wide display screen was controlled through a touchpad ahead of a convenient hand rest. It took a little practice but became almost easy to use as time went on.
In a week of test driving, I found the 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 a compelling, no-compromise luxury sedan that was always fun to driver. If you want more, a full-blown AMG version is available with a 302-horsepower engine and upgraded suspension. But I think most buyers will be satisfied with the lower-priced 4MATIC version I drove, which proved why true luxury is always worth it.
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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