Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
208 HP / 258 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
6.6 Seconds (62 mph)
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
12.1 / 40.1 CU-FT
Third Time Is Absolutely A Charm For Entry-Level Merc



You are looking at what is likely the most important Mercedes-Benz passenger car since the old 190 turned into the C-Class "Baby Benz" back in 1993. And the United States and Canada won't get it, at least not in this hatchback configuration we have just tested extensively in Slovenia.

The big message coming from Mercedes, however, is that the new A-Class is categorically not to be referred to as a baby anything. (We wish them good luck in enforcing this mandate.) The attitude is aggressive and "Attack Mode" in nature, clearly showing how tired Mercedes is of being known as the less exciting, more mild mannered German brand.

The thing is, that reputation is well earned and the brand has embraced it for quite some time with real success. But now it's time to bust out of the current normal and cater to the kids with expendable cash in pocket.

Since 1997, the world has lived through two generations of A-Class, one of the most utterly bland four-wheeled semi-premium small cars ever formulated. And since the 190/C-Class went all upmarket in the early '00s, Mercedes has had no true competitor – at least not a very cool one – in a premium small car segment anywhere on Earth where it sells cars. And, boy, have they needed it.
2012 Mercedes A-Class side view2012 Mercedes A-Class front view2012 Mercedes A-Class rear view

This new A-Class compact car, known internally as W176, is so far beyond those previous two generations that the stunned effect of its first impression almost has us forgetting those others ever happened. And Mercedes really likes this sentiment, probably because it's something they surely think but could never say.

The stunned effect of its first impression almost has us forgetting the first two ever happened.

Stylish hatchbacks and compacts are breeding like plankton these days, but we've been convinced of the conquering power of the W176 right from our first viewing of it on the show stand at the Geneva Motor Show this past March. That show version was an A 250 Sport with AMG-caressed chassis, wheels and dynamics, and we tested this trim here in Slovenia on a circuit laid out at an airfield. Most of our time, however, was spent in the higher volume A 250 with AMG package treatment (the red one seen in our pictures), admittedly more of a cosmetic affair than the zestier Sport.

As is the norm, Mercedes' current plans in North America for the A-Class are being kept hidden. Leading intelligence suggests we'll get a four-door trunked version in 2014 called the CLA based on the Concept Style Coupe shown this past April at the Beijing Motor Show. In any case, why would intelligent Mercedes-Benz not bring us something cool based on the new A-Class and leave all the small premium car profits in the U.S. and Canada to Mini, Volkswagen, Audi, and soon the Japanese? Competing to win is in their blood.

2012 Mercedes A-Class interior2012 Mercedes A-Class front seats2012 Mercedes A-Class rear seats2012 Mercedes A-Class rear cargo area

Horsepower for the A 250 is 208 at 5,500 rpm and torque 258 pound-feet from 1,200 up to 4,000 rpm.

Compared to a current Audi A3 five-door, the new A-Class hatch is exactly the same length at 168.9 inches, has a 4.8-inch longer wheelbase, is an inch wider and has a roof that is four tenths of an inch higher off the ground. Cargo capacity in the A3 ranges from 19.5 to 39.0 cubic feet, while the A-Class rates between 12.1 and 40.1 cu ft.

The parallels between the Audi A3 and the Mercedes stumble a bit when we turn to the engine on which we concentrated most of our time, the updated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder previously reserved for the Mercedes B-Class. Horsepower for the A 250 is 208 at 5,500 rpm and torque is rated at 258 pound-feet from 1,200 up to 4,000 rpm, while the 2.0-liter TFSI in the A3 reads 197 hp from 5,100 to 6,000 revs and 207 lb-ft of torque from 1,700 to 5,000 revs. As these impressive numbers hint, this upgraded 2.0-liter from Mercedes was a great mill to play with for our two days in former northern Yugoslavia.

2012 Mercedes A-Class engine

Acceleration to 62 miles per hour (100 kmh) is an estimated 6.6 seconds.

This can get confusing, so read closely. The Jupiter Red model we are featuring is an A 250 with the AMG Sport Line package that includes the sport suspension, while the sturdier Cirrus white car on the track test is the A 250 Sport with chassis tuned by AMG, plus new throttle and transmission mapping. Whereas the red car was pushable through the extremely dynamic remote mountain two-lanes, it is not thoroughly engineered to put up with such treatment. The latter (white) is definitely geared better for hot hatch credibility and can do nearly all the things we wanted the A 250 AMG Sport Line car to do.

All general performance numbers are identical between the two cars here, even matching acceleration to 62 miles per hour (100 kmh) in an estimated 6.6 seconds. The A 250 Sport gets an AMG-specific lowered performance suspension, an AMG-created front axle, higher threshold ESP settings, snappier shifts from the seven-speed automated dual-clutch gearbox and perforated brake discs all around for greater initial brake response. Then there's the hearty sound of its sport-tuned exhaust.

2012 Mercedes A-Class headlight2012 Mercedes A-Class wheel2012 Mercedes A-Class sunroof2012 Mercedes A-Class taillight

No matter which A-Class family of cars come to North America in the future, the all-new six-speed manual gearbox is not in the plans for us.

Despite the expected looser feel in all those tight turns on public roads, however, the A 250 Sport Line (the red one) more than held its own, handling much like the competing Audi A3 sans Quattro thanks to the extra torque that helped it out of curves. The Sport Line sport suspension settings are nicely balanced from the factory, even during aggressive weight shifts, and by themselves, they erase any driving memories we had of the timid A-Class models of yore. The direct steer system also works overtime in bringing this trim of A-Class up to date with competitors, and the package's 18-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires – 225/40 R18 92W – support dynamic driving sufficiently, though the white A 250 Sport's wider 19-inch rubber did it all noticeably better.

No matter which A-Class family of cars come to North America in the future, the all-new six-speed manual gearbox is not in the plans for us. This is a Mercedes-in-America thing, and it's really too bad. We diced around in a couple lower trim cars and changed gears with this unit ad infinitum, and never once did we feel an imprecise shift. The throw of the lever is just right. It's a particular pity since the seven-speed automated dual-clutch can get clunky and slow at times, and the manual mode has a tendency to be overridden frequently by full-auto mode if you're not paying attention closely enough.



Only perhaps the new Volvo V40 hatch comes close to matching this passenger roominess.

Elsewhere inside our A 250 with AMG looks, there are the silver sport dials with fluorescent red needles, supportive sport seats wrapped in synthetic leather with cling fabric inserts, and the carbon-fiber look veneer on the dashboard. The comfort and support provided for both front and rear passengers, plus the substantial acoustic isolation of the cabin, help make the A-Class passenger cell feel as fine as the top trim A3 and much better than BMW's overly kitsch Mini lineup. Due to the much longer wheelbase and heightened roof, rear passengers also benefit from an impressive increase in knee and headroom. This is also why the basic cargo room with all seatbacks in place suffers somewhat, but one must choose one's priorities in a compact design like this. Only perhaps the new Volvo V40 hatch comes close to matching this passenger roominess.

Standard on all A-Class cars at launch is Collision Prevention Assist, a system that operates via sensors and cameras to issue visual and audio signals when an object ahead is picked up in your path while driving speeds between 20 and 155 miles per hour. If the object is deemed stationary as you continue forward at 45 mph or less, the signals issued are even more emphatic to get your attention. If you're really close to the object and above 10 mph, your braking can be increased by the optional adaptive brake boost assist. We tested all of this on another part of the airport tarmac and it works according to plan.

2012 Mercedes A-Class rear 3/4 view

The base pricing for us would probably start at around $28,500.

In one more feature to reflect the intentions of the new A-Class, the optional COMAND Online onboard system hooks up your smartphone, iPod, etc. to the car's on-dash screen. It's essentially the Mercedes version of what everyone else is doing, and it's full-featured, intuitive, and you can tie in to a whole series of apps that enhance your loving relationship with your hip new Mercedes.

Were the A 250 to come to the States at the time of its October European launch, the base pricing for us would probably start at around $28,500, not only to compete squarely with the 2.0 TFSI Audi A3, but also to reflect the added go and more ample standard equipment.

If the chief goal were to lower the average age and broaden the field of A-Class buyer, and Mercedes buyer in general, then this A-Class is destined for success. In the meantime, Mercedes has also finally given us the small car they should have done back in the late 1990s, and they've done it well.

Now for that A 45 AMG, please.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 111 Comments
      Spellchecker
      • 2 Years Ago
      I live in Munich and I saw the new A-Class in this same red color on the street a few weeks ago (it had Stuttgart plates). It looked exactly like the car in the photos except for different wheels. It looked hot. I was impressed with the design. And - it's massive. This is not a small car. It has compact dimensions and is classified as one, but it looks bigger or at least similar in size to the old W201 Mercedes 190! I can also see why this car may not be sold in the US (if those reports are correct). MB would have to federalize it for the American market for those 300 people who might buy one. I think the average badge-shopper would just pay a few thousands extra for a C-Class and won't understand the reason for the A-Class. This is similar to the problem the BMW 1-Series has in the US. The badge-shopper pays a bit more for a 3-Series because it's a big bigger and more practical. The 1-Series is a purist driving machine - the few enthusiasts who generally buy them see that - the badge-shopper does not.
        Pat
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spellchecker
        I have seen a white new A class yesterday evening on the A59 from Bonn to Cologne - really a nice car
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spellchecker
        true words
      Nowuries
      • 2 Years Ago
      MB would be stupid not to bring this to the states in hatchback form. If they don't bring the AMG version, they are beyond stupid... but I wouldn't put it past auto companies as they are often not in touch with the customer wants.
      Alma V. Hassan
      • 2 Years Ago
      An upper-class Golf? Very impressive. That interior is superb.
      kcroc10077
      • 2 Years Ago
      Like the car but would want a more aggressive look/stance for anything related to AMG. Much like what Audi does with its S-Line and BMW with M-Sport.
      Stinkyboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      nice rental car, but I would rather have a crappy dodge dart over this pig with lipstick.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 2 Years Ago
      First of all, Mercedes, I would prefer that you skip the frumpy hatch variant for the US market and just give us the CLA. Almost all Americans, myself included, prefer sedans to their hatchback counterparts. We, given the choice, would like to see the hatchback veraint stay in Europe. Sedans almost always look better than their hatch equivalents. Secondly, I like that Mercedes is forgoing manuals like it usually does. It's a shame that companies like BMW and Audi keep selling outdated manual transmission to cater to the 1% that actually buys them.Automatics nowadays are much more fuel efficient and faster shifting than manuals. Besides, automatics are much safer to use, especially while multitasking, and in traffic They are much more convenient to use than manuals; you don't need to worry about changing gears; and at the same time, you are going faster than a comparable manual. I just don't understand why anyone in today's day and age would buy a manual since automatics have so many advantages. Anyways, everything in that car looks upscale and the specs are very competitive. Hopefully, like other Mercs, the ride will be ultra comfortable without sacrificing performance (6.6 seconds to 60 isn't bad at all for this class, so it looks good). Merc always makes the best transmisssions (Speedshift) ,so I'd expect this dual clutch to be good, as well. This car along with the ILX wallops the A3 and the Verano . Even if it was only as good as those cars, I'd still take the Merc. Merc has a long and glorious history, much more than Audi or Buick.
        superchan7
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Unfortunately, my friends' preferences confirm the marketing research. People around me look at hatchbacks and wagons and go "WTF? I'd rather get a sedan or an SUV." Americans are still smoking some of the 1990s SUV craze, and old habits die hard.
        Proghog
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Wow I'm speechless. I want to say something, but I think the sentence wouldn't legable because of all the ******* the commenting system would put in.
        kopter28
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        WOW! I know you probably tried to come of as intelligent, but unfortunately it didn't work out.
        creamwobbly
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        "We, given the choice, would like to see the hatchback veraint stay in Europe. Sedans almost always look better than their hatch equivalents." We, given the choice would like -- well, the choice.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @creamwobbly
          Hatchbacks don't sell in the US. The market planners at auto companies know better than you.
        Phontsolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You seriously NEED to speak for yourself because not ALL American's hate hatchbacks. Your whole first paragraph is completely moronic and selfish. Your attitude toward hatchbacks is the reason the people that love hatchbacks in the US don't get them. There should not only be only one choice. There should be multiple choices and let the American buyer decide on which version they prefer. No, we do not have choices. The automobile industry decides for us. No one in the US wants a premium hatchback. I call BULLSHIT on that.
        SaabStory
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Do you just copy and paste this stuff on every post your write on? This is almost verbatim what you say on every single post. It's cool if you hate hatchbacks and manual transmissions. But, you don't seem to understand a hatchback's utility (unless it's called a CUV I bet). You also don't understand that there are many of us who not only like driving manuals, but also like the lower maintenance costs and are able to use them just as efficiently or even more efficiently than their automatic counterpart.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SaabStory
          >Utility-most sedans offer equal cargo capacity and space. >Manual transmissions- you guys are the minority. >lower maintainance costs-not when your clutch is burnt out. >efficiency- most autos nowadays have better efficiency than their manual counterparts.
          Andrew B
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SaabStory
          Err? Who is burning out their clutch, a person unable to drive a manual? My almost 13 year old Protege5 is still on its original clutch and has plenty of life in it. Secondly, let's say a manumatic does offer let's say, 1 MPG better on city/highway driving over a manual trans. I'd still MUCH rather take that measly 1 MPG hit in order to actually have fun driving. Thirdly, show me a sedan and hatch of the same year and model, where the sedan has equal cargo and interior volume to the hatch.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        clearly a troll account..nothing to see here. go on
        Richard R. Martin
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You're not seriously comparing an uninspired, jumped up Honda Civic to the Audi A3, are you?
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Richard R. Martin
          You're seriosuly not comparing an uninspired, jumped up Volkswagen Golf to the ILX, are you. Giving you a taste of your own medicine. :)
        Adhominem
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I can't figure out whether you're being sarcastic or not and if yes, which part of your post is supposed to be the sarcastic part.
      Jonathan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm sure everyone will disagree with this and give it a thumbs down, but I'm relieved this won't be seen on the streets in the US. IMHO.
      Jason Golden
      • 2 Years Ago
      No...just NO! Not another bobtail-cutie-hatchlette! Is it a Suzuki Reno...wait Impreza...errr... it looks like a starter car for college kids. Let's see this in an elegant sedan profile!
        Proghog
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason Golden
        Did you even read the article? God forbid Benz make a car is multiple trims. The car is probably going to come out in the US as a boaring sedan and a crappy handling CUV.
        Phontsolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason Golden
        Screw you and your sedan profile. People with your state of mind are the reason American's don't get to enjoy most of the worlds great premium hatchbacks. All you want is YET ANOTHER SEDAN. How very exciting! The only one sounding like a college kid here is you.
      Ducman69
      • 2 Years Ago
      So exactly what portion of Autoblog readership is NOT in North America but is in Slovenia? Waste of a click. You owe me five seconds.
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        What in the hell are you talking about? This is the WORLD WIDE WEB and many of ABs visitors are from outside of the US.
          Phontsolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          He's just upset like many of us American hatchback lovers because it seems every time a post is started with a great looking hatchback it's followed by "THE US WON'T BE GETTING IT".
          Ducman69
          • 2 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          None that matter. And quit trying to pull a fast one on me, I'm pretty sure Slovania isn't even a real country. Probably just got the name from one of the Lord of the Rings movies. PS: USA! USA! USA!
        creamwobbly
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        It's built in Slovenia for the European market, which is bigger than the North American market. If you looked a little deeper, you might find it's not just your clicks that are being wasted.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        what a douche comment
        superchan7
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Joke or not, what is with some of us Americans that are so disconnected (and want to stay disconnected) with the rest of the world? Let me guess, those particular people also think 'murrica is the best place on earth. Want to be a world leader, better be in tune with the world. You want to joke about it, it's not really that funny because the rest of the world thinks the joke is on us.
          A P
          • 2 Years Ago
          @superchan7
          If you dont think that America is special then you are the biggest moron in the history of the world, period. Go live with your Euro trash buddies and them take 60% of your pay in taxes. We dont need boobs like you.
      Matthew Simmons
      • 2 Years Ago
      I really like the look of this vehicle and love hatchbacks however this sentence "No matter which A-Class family of cars come to North America in the future, the all-new six-speed manual gearbox is not in the plans for us." killed any interest I had in the vehicle. Call me old fashioned but I love having a manual. Sharp car though.
      Fugsworth@yahoo.com
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dear Mercedes, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. Regards, AC
      Chopper
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've said it 1000 times... I fkn hate the fact we (USA) get screwed out of all the hatch back designs because they think "we don't like them".
        Phontsolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Chopper
        I completely agree and I've brought up this topic countless times. We no longer have options. The automobile manufactures now decided for us. Yes, there's always been country specific options or versions of cars but we always had the choice of either a sedan or a hatchback if available. Now? We have no choice at all. It seems, unless it's a B-Spec affordable sub-compact we don't get any of the premium hatchbacks. None. It's definitely to the point that automobile manufactures have given up selling Americans hatchbacks. I don't get it. There are many, many, many hatchback lovers. Something's up.
          A P
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Phontsolo
          Boo hoo......this is really something you think is important? More like the lemmings are just pissed that other people dont like what you like so you think "something's up". What an idiot.
        transam
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Chopper
        I agree that hatch designs make sense, but sales volume does the talking.
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