Review: The Mercedes A220 Is Great—But Watch the Options

The A-Class packs tons of goodness and features in a small package.

Small cars—especially small sedans—seem to be in peril. As the industry focuses on building ever more SUVs and trucks, it's easy for car enthusiasts to feel as though fun-to-drive compacts are vanishing.

But Stuttgart isn't giving up the fight. Mercedes-Benz's 2019 A-Class sedan arrived in the U.S. earlier this year with prices starting at $33,495 for front-wheel-drive models and $35,495 for those equipped with all-wheel drive. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and equipped with 4Matic AWD, the example of the A-Class reviewed here would seem to have the potential to satisfy.

The small four-door certainly looks the part. The bodywork is attractively sculpted and creased, and our car had the more aggressive $2,310 AMG Line package, which not only adds aesthetic goodies like the "diamond" grille but also perforated front brake discs. In addition, our A220 was coated in $720 Mountain Grey Metallic paint, highly attractive $500 19-inch AMG multispoke wheels with stickier tires, and the $900 Exterior Lighting Package, which includes LED headlamps.

 

As it turns out, the Mercedes-Benz delivers in the driving experience, too. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission routs 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque to the ground, with peak twist delivered between 1,250 and 4,000 rpm. Acceleration isn't earth-shattering, but it feels plenty brisk, and the A220 4Matic can hit 60 mph in something under 6.5 seconds. Full-throttle pulls are accompanied by quick, crisp shifts that elicit fizzy snorts from the exhaust.

The powertrain offers great refinement in daily use, as well. At startup, the engine can sound a bit gruff for a luxury car from the outside—it's really a typical four-cylinder's sound—but the cabin is whisper-quiet once the doors are closed. The standard automatic stop-start system is smooth and almost undetectable at stoplights, but it can be overeager to activate in traffic. We drove mostly with it off.

Keeping in mind its short wheelbase, the A220 rides as one expects from a Mercedes-Benz. Very little road noise or impact sounds intrude inside, demonstrating that small and luxurious don't have to be at odds. The body is nicely controlled during aggressive maneuvers, too, with crisp damping and predictable responses to driver inputs. Credit the lowered Comfort suspension, which is included in the AMG Line kit.

Interior quality is fantastic for the segment—or even two segments above. Opt for the $2,100 Premium package and two humungous screens dominate the dash, making the diminutive A-class seem far more upscale. The displays are crisp and responsive, and they're surrounded by a pleasantly designed blend of premium materials. Soft-touch points are everywhere, and only when does one start poking around outside of the usual contact points that lesser materials reveal themselves.

Our test car came equipped with red and black leather for $1,450, as well as black linden wood trim for $325. The combination is gorgeous and only further elevated the premium feel. Without these upgrades, the interior can be a bit drab, but the high quality of our car's materials was evident. The A220 also came with the $850 upgraded Burmester surround-sound system, which offers fantastic audio quality. SiriusXM satellite radio added another $460—it's a bit ridiculous that this isn't standard.

Scores of high-tech features can be fitted, too, as standard or optionally. These include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the $2,250 Driver Assistance package, which brings myriad state-of-the-art active and passive safety technology. In addition to the beautiful screens, the Premium bundle also adds blind-spot assist, keyless entry and start, hands-free trunk opening, and auto-dimming (rearview and side) and automatic-folding (side) mirrors.

Even though it's really easy to fit the A220 into tight parking spots, parking-assist tech can add peace of mind we appreciate. The Parking Assistance package includes a 360-degree camera view and active parking assist for $1,090. Rendered on the center screen, the overhead graphic of the car and its surroundings is crisp and one of the best on the market.

The Multimedia package adds navigation, three years of map updates, speed-limit assist, and a cool augmented-reality assistance feature for the nav (it overlays turn arrows on a real-time view of your surroundings to help you make the proper turns). For $1,150, we'd probably skip this if we were optioning out an A-Class for ourselves, however, as mobile-phone integration is standard. Heated and ventilated front seats ($1,030), a head-up display ($990), 64-color ambient lighting ($310), and a garage-door opener ($280) rounded out the remaining options; we'd probably skip them all except the seats, and the garage-door function really ought to be included.

You may have noticed that this review is largely a laundry list of features. That's on purpose. The A-class is refined, drives well enough when you want to hammer on it a little, and feels every bit a proper Mercedes-Benz. It can, however, as we've made clear, also be equipped like its bigger brothers, the E- and S-Classes. To that end, the total price of our test car was nearly $52,000—quite a hike from its $35K base sticker and just shy of an entry-level E-Class. Given all that, it will be key for buyers to decide if they want all the latest and greatest technology—a stunning breadth is available—in a handier, city-friendly package, or if they'd prefer the smoother overall experience of a bigger Benz. There's no doubt the A-Class is a great small car, and if you're judicious equipping one with only the items you need, it will feel like money well spent.

2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $34,495/$51,950 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4; 188 hp @ 5,800-6,100 rpm, 221 lb-ft @ 1,250-4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD Sedan
EPA MILEAGE 25/33 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 179.1 x 70.7 x 56.9 in
WHEELBASE 107.4 in
WEIGHT 3,440 lb
0-60 6.2 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph
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