2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4Matic Review - Punching Above Its Weight
2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC
The entry-level Mercedes-Benz sedan has an odd history. Until the W201 series in the mid-Eighties, there really wasn’t anything truly in the smaller classes, and the nomenclature (190E) seemed deceiving, reminding some of the larger E-class. Still, these were popular cars, even spawning the epic twin-cam powered Cosworth models that allowed the smallest Benz sports sedan to go race in the DTM series, and eventually bearing a more natural “C” class naming syntax.
But the C got bigger and more expensive, and soon upstart luxury brands began nipping at the heels of the three-pointed star on the lower end. The first A-class was underwhelming, though with the typical application of AMG-style power it could be fun.
This newest A-class, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC, has a good deal to answer for. Will the typical Stuttgart amenities be enough to sway those remaining small sedan buyers, or will they shy away from the babiest of Baby Benzes?
I know the styling is polarizing. The proportions are a bit funky, with a longish front overhang, a high cowl, a very upright greenhouse, and stubby tail all contributing to an unusual profile. But this is an example of making different work, at least to my eyes. In this well-equipped example with optional 19-inch wheels, a lowered suspension, and blacked-out trim, the A220 looks handsomely purposeful.
That stubby trunk lid betrays a tiny cargo space, sadly – only 8.6 narrow cubic feet of space back there, though the seatbacks do fold for a bit of flexibility. Those rear seats do give the rear passengers plenty of room, with ample leg, head, and shoulder room keeping a pair of sisters from encroaching upon their respective texting habits.
The front seats are marvelous — I briefly considered whipping out a ratchet and sockets to steal them for my minivan. Doubtful that anyone would notice the swap, right? But these chairs are all-day comfortable, with enough bolstering to keep things in place when driving aggressively.
The dashboard is designed to wow, with a pair of 10.3-inch panels integrated into a single slab. The visuals for gauges, infotainment, navigation, and climate are bright, distinct, and attractive – and highly customizable. The touchpad in the center console is intuitive and responsive, with a handy wrist rest to position the hand for ideal mousing. Most audio, phone, and nav functions can easily be mirrored on the steering wheel, with solid-feeling metallic buttons, touchpads, switches, and knobs controlling everything with ease.
More glitz comes from the accent lighting glowing throughout the cabin, which can be easily adjusted or switched off. My kids chose the purple and red shown here. The cellphone wireless charging pad immediately forward of the cupholders has a nice touch – a hinged plastic bar that helps to keep the phone in contact with the pad, minimizing situations where the phone becomes dislodged and thus not charging.
I’m not a fan of the column-mounted shift lever in the A220. While I actually like the traditional right-side-of-the-column lever location, reminding me of American cars from the Eighties, the actual feel of this lever is cheap. It’s made of thin, lightweight plastic, and looks too much like a windscreen wiper stalk. While I’m certain that with today’s electronic transmission controls there’s likely no chance of dropping into park while on the interstate, I still don’t love the look or feel.
Other than that flimsy shift lever, I love how this A220 drives. 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque doesn’t sound like much in a world where the headline-grabbing sports sedans have well over 400 horses (including the insane 416 hp coming to the AMG version of this A-Class), but this A220 moves nicely enough. Car and Driver, for example, measured a zero-to-sixty time of 6.1 seconds, which is plenty quick, especially for this class. I was further impressed by the fuel economy. I was able to manage 32.2 mpg in my week of mixed driving, which is quite close to the EPA rating for highway only.
Handling, too, is great for what this is. Sure, the AMG accoutrements lower and tighten the ride, but the chassis is solid and quiet, which speaks to the excellent chassis beneath the entire lineup. The steering is especially communicative, with a good weight to the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel. The ride is luxury-car smooth even with these big wheels, though I do notice some wind noise from the A-pillar at highway speeds.
I’m almost ashamed about how much I liked the Mercedes-Benz A220. On paper, it doesn’t stack up – it’s small but expensive. The trunk is tiny. It’s not that powerful. My tester had another fifty percent added in options to the base MSRP.
But this little sedan charmed me. It looks fantastic – there are few cars that I like painted white, ever since my old landlord decided to pave the only exit to the complex shortly before I left for class, leaving spatters of tar on my new-ish white Ford Focus. But this A220, with blacked out trim, wheels, and grille inserts, has a presence that few small sedans offer.
Further, though it’s not a high-performance car with a snarling tuned engine, this baby Benz drives with balance and joy. Yes, it’s a front-drive-based all-wheel drive system, but it feels sprightly. It’s a rare entry-level luxury sedan these days that still caters to a driver, all while maintaining a sensible personality. It won’t find a home at a track day, but it will encourage some drivers to take the long way home.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
- Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
- Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
- Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
- Jeff S Got to give credit to Chrysler for putting the 300 as a rear wheel drive back on the market. This will be a future classic.