2013 Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport: Henny Takes A Hard Drive

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2013 Mercedes-Benz A 250 At Speed

2013 Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport -Ready for the chase

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands. August 14, 2012. Mercedes-Benz introduced its complete new generation A-Class (See Story) with fuel efficient engines, as well as a sporty model.

When you say sport in connection to Mercedes, you say AMG. In this case, the six white cars waiting for us to be tested were not AMG-models. We will have to wait another year for the ultra sporty A 45 AMG to arrive on the European markets. By the way, it was just announced that the number 45 is intended to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Mercedes’ performance division.

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Until then, the fastest A-Class will be the A 250 Sport ’engineered by AMG’. Indeed, the engineers in Affalterbach, Germany, are responsible for the sporty set up of the chassis, a special developed front axle, the transmission, steering gear and brakes.

This model shows that Mercedes intends to go after the competition, a move that was impossible with the outgoing A-Class. With a much more dynamic look, also the driving dynamics, the new ‘A’ should be on par with the competitors in the premium compact segment, BMW and Audi. But is the A 250 Sport good enough to chase their sportiest models?

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The A 250 Sport gets an aluminum 2-liter direct injected petrol engine, but with 155 kW/211 hp, power output is not anyway near the expected 320-350 hp of the upcoming AMG-model. In the A 250 Sport the 4-cilinder turbo engine has 350 Nm/258 lb-ft of torque available at 1,200-4,000 rpm and is driving the front wheels through a sporty set-up 7-speed DCT (Double Clutch Transmission).
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The all-wheel-drive 4Matic variant will arrive later. The A 250 Sport stands on 18-inch wheels with 235/40/R18 rubber, and the red brake calipers clearly visible.

We hit the asphalt of a small airport, Aerodrom Portorož, in Slovenia. The Mercedes Academy instructors had set up a short track with a wide bend, a fast slalom and a tighter bend before a ‘straight’ where we had to stop or slow down.

I get into the sport seat of the white Benz and buckle up. The engine is still running and the exhaust sound is inspiring.

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I am the first of 5 cars behind the instructor, who while smiling and keeping a blank face obviously is hiding his thoughts: … oh, a skirt… “Please stay close behind, so that the others following you can also see the lines…” Why would I tell him…. He’ll soon find out.

Right from the start, I am on his bumper. He looks in his mirrors and pushes the throttle deeper and deeper. In the slalom I am still there and in the last bend he is on the limit. We lost my colleagues, but waited for them on the straight. Another lap and another. Faster, until I see that the car in front of me is on the limit.

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In the first bend the A 250 Sport still has grip, but just so. After a couple of laps, we cool down, the front tires must be wearing out. The instructor reacts delighted: “the past couple of weeks, I have not been chased like this.”

I am secretly amused while I see one of my Dutch colleagues looking at us, he will undoubtedly unveil my identity…

When I say that I am pleasantly surprised by the excellent behavior of the ‘A’ with its front wheel drive, the instructor volunteers that they changed the radius of the first corner. “It was too tight and would generate too much under steer which would eat tires.”

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That is exactly the difference in dynamics compared to a rear wheel driven model. But the sporty Mercedes goes a long way before you notice it. The chassis has a dynamic set up, which may be a little hard for comfort during daily driving. But it allows you to let the rear of the car swerve out a bit by lifting off. Of course, the ESP-system was switched ‘off’, but nowadays, there is always the safety net of interference of the system when it really goes wild..

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The torque of the four-cylinder engine makes accelerating really fun, as even at low revs the engine reacts swiftly on the throttle. Mercedes says the A 250 Sport takes only 6.6 seconds from start to 100 km/h (92 mph) and reaches a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph).

Still I miss something, the eagerness of the engine, the eagerness to perform. Yes, there is enough power, but because of the low end torque it feels more like a diesel. The 7G-DTC transmission adds to this feeling. Paddle shifting in Sport setting needs a fraction of a second too long to be really ‘on top of it’. This goes especially for downshifting.

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The A 250 Sport is a truly fine machine, with good looks and nicely executed, sporty details inside and out. But it needs a some more refinement in the dynamics department in order to be more ‘involved’ and be able to outdo its two German competitors.

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Customers new to the brand will be surprised though and will undoubtedly enjoy the new A-Class sporty model’s performance, safety systems and – not less important – possibilities to connect to the social media.

The Mercedes A 250 Sport will it the European markets in September. Its price in Germany starts at 36.860 Euro (including tax)

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