Last year Mercedes-Benz introduced the entry-level A-Class in America to entice new buyers to the German brand. With a starting price around $33,000, the A-Class is the least expensive Mercedes-Benz available in America. Driving the entry-level model from any car company can be telling — what’s the result when the price needs to be kept affordable? After spending a few days with the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, we can honestly say the car doesn’t feel like an entry-level model — it feels like a Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz provided us with a 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC sedan in Mojave Silver Metallic. Our A220 was well equipped with optional features including 19-inch black AMG multi-spoke wheels, dynamic body control, an AMG sport steering wheel, GPS navigation, AMG body styling, a Night Package, a Premium Package and 64-color ambient lighting for a total MSRP of $46,100. Competitors to the A220 include the BMW 2 Series, Audi A3 and Acura ILX.
Even though it’s the smallest sedan to wear the Mercedes-Benz star, the A-Class clearly looks like a Mercedes. The premium styling is complemented by the combination of silver paint and black wheels, along with the AMG diamond-block grille, AMG aero features and gloss black trim courtesy of the Night Package. Integrated dual exhaust outlets, a sculpted trunk lid and LED taillights also contribute to the high-end looks.
Glancing inside the A-Class, it’s easy to forget this is an entry-level model. Granted our tester had optional equipment, but the standard 10.25-inch widescreen display that seamlessly integrates with the equally large digital instrument cluster is an interior presentation that until a few years ago was only available on the top-level Mercedes models. The large display not only gives the A-Class a high-tech and upscale feeling, it also makes the interior appear wider. Large chrome vents with gloss black surrounds are a nice touch.
Seating and Storage
The two-tone treatment on the front seats and doors of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class enhance the upscale interior styling. With the gear shifter on the steering column, designers had enough space for covered storage, cupholders and an additional storage space below the dashboard.
The large touchscreen display is the primary interface with the A-Class’s MBUX system. The center console has buttons for navigation, vehicle settings and communications, as well as a touchpad that can be used to navigate the display. The A-Class is also equipped with the new MBUX voice interface. Although this natural-language voice recognition works relatively well, it was erroneously activated several times during normal conversation, which could get annoying. Although we appreciate the appeal of voice activation, sometimes a simple button push would suffice instead of an interruption from a system that seems overly anxious to help.
Although the rear seating area of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class looks good, it is a quick reminder that this is a compact sedan. The rear seats are quite cramped and somewhat difficult to access. The space would be best suited for children — adults would find the seats tight and uncomfortable after a short trip.
Cargo space in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is surprisingly large for such a small vehicle, easily fitting a few small suitcases or several bags of groceries. We like that the trunk lid supports slide into the bodywork so items don’t get crushed accidentally while closing the lid.
Under the Hood
Powering the A220 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined. During city driving the trip computer registered around 25 mpg, so these numbers appear to be accurate.
On the Road
The A220 is much more entertaining to drive than expected. Although its horsepower rating is lower than its competitors, the small sedan launches quickly from a stop with strong acceleration. When set in Sport mode, the transmission keeps the rpm high, which in turn keeps torque immediately available. The dual-clutch gearbox shifts quickly and the 4MATIC all-wheel drive keeps wheels from slipping, even at full throttle. The A220 has a nice exhaust note as well — it never sounds like the engine is being overworked, which can be the case when pushing smaller four-cylinder engines.
Start / Stop
We often turn off the start / stop function in a test vehicle when possible, since it can be frustrating to wait for the engine to start after stopping at a traffic light. However, the system in the A220 starts the engine quickly; we did not feel a delay when starting out after the engine had been turned off at idle.
Steering and Handling
This little Mercedes is quite fun to drive when the roads are a bit curvy. Steering is precise with good feedback, and engineers were able to minimize body lean in corners.
The Mercedes-Benz A220 is a pleasant surprise: considerably more affordable then the higher-end vehicles of the Mercedes family, it still feels like it belongs in the German automaker’s lineup. With attractive looks and an interior that feels much more upscale than expected, the A220 turns out to be much more of a premium offering than anticipated. Add great performance and fun-to-drive qualities to that relatively low starting price and the A220 makes a great choice in the premium compact sedan marketplace.