2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Test Drive: Automobile All-Stars Contender
It’s a pint-sizer in American luxury terms, but it punches above its weight.
Automobile's All-Stars awards are back, and this year we have one of the best fields of cars we've ever evaluated. In total, we invited 21 of our favorite new or significantly revised cars to find out which are the very best of the best. We've split them into Contenders and Winners, but let us make it clear: every car invited to our All-Stars event is one of the most special cars on sale for 2020. Each day between March 8th and March 10th, we'll bring you a new batch of Contenders, and on Wednesday, March 11, we'll announce our 2020 Automobile All-Stars Winners.
"It's a minor tragedy when a car as well thought-out as the A-Class doesn't make the cut for All-Star status," lamented contributor Basem Wasef. "Techy, efficiently laid-out, and forward thinking in nearly every way, the A-Class gets lost in the mix perhaps because its sensible small sedan layout simply isn't all that sensational. Regardless, it's a really good car."
That's an apt sum-up of our general feelings towards the Mercedes A220 sedan we evaluated at our 2020 Automobile All-Stars gathering. The A-Class is Mercedes' second attempt at giving the U.S. a version of its smallest vehicle architecture. The first was the 2013 CLA, a compact four-door coupe that was the brand's entry-level model with a just-over $30,000 base price and felt every bit as inexpensive as it purported to be. Now, in 2020, the A-Class sedan is the low-price leader for the marque with a base price of $33,495, and the sportier CLA moves a tick up-market.
The good news is that the 2020 Mercedes A220, at least with a healthy dose of extra-cost options, doesn't look or feel like an inexpensive vehicle. And really, our example wasn't, with an as-tested price of $45,200 that was nearly 30 percent more than the cost of entry. Quality leather and metal surfaces abound in the places that matter in the cabin, while the $1,550 Premium Package ups the ante with twin 10.25-inch digital displays, one atop the center stack for infotainment and the other ahead of the driver, serving as an instrument panel. A Burmester premium stereo system ($850) adds stylish aluminum speakers that look better than they sound, while the AMG Line exterior package ($2,310) gives sportier body features and cross-drilled brake rotors.
Mercedes' fairly new MBUX interface was introduced with this model and allows for complex voice commands to control just about everything in the cabin, from lowering the stereo volume to raising the climate control temperature to asking for navigation to a moderately priced Italian restaurant that's open late—this, it seems, is the future.
We even found the perky little A220 to be more fun to hustle around than a nearly-two-ton, 188-hp, front-drive sedan has the right to be. Around the Streets of Willow racetrack and on the windy stretches of our on-road drive route, the little turbo-four engine was willing, body control was good, and shifts from the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission came quickly enough for a not-quite sports sedan.
"If this car weren't so expensive with options, it'd be so compelling," said social media guru Billy Rehbock. "It reminded me of how much I love compacts. It has just enough power, and handles with great nimbleness. Luxury doesn't have to be big and the A-Class is a great example of that fact."
On that last point, some differed. Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa thought that the second coming of Mercedes' small car is a far better attempt than its first, but there's still a way to go. "A vast improvement over the first CLA-Class sedans imported to the U.S., with a livable back seat," Lassa wrote, "But it's still a poor lower-cost alternative to the Mercedes C-Class. I can't find any reason to choose one of these over a loaded $30,000 Honda Civic."
When the dust settled and the votes were in, the Mercedes A220 just didn't wow us enough to score a coveted spot on our 2020 Automobile All-Stars list. That said, we're impressed with the way the brand has upped its effort with this entry-level offering—so much so, we invited it to slug it out with the year's best cars, because it's one of the year's best, too.
|2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Specifications|
|PRICE||$33,495 (base)/$45,200 (as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/188 hp @ 5,500-6,100 rpm, 221 lb-ft @ 1,250-4,000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSIONS||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||24/35 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||179.1 x 70.7 x 56.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.1 sec|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph (electronically limited)|
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