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First Drive

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A250 – price, specs and release date

The A250 is the most potent model in the A-Class line-up until the AMG A35 arrives early next year. Can it challenge the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Hyundai i30N?

Words By Neil Winn

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A250 cornering

Priced from Β£30,240 Release date Now

So, you’ve read the glowing reviews, absorbed the hype and decided that you want a new Mercedes-Benz A-Class on your drive. But which version should you pick if you’re a keen driver?

Well, until the Mercedes-AMG A35 arrives in early 2019 (ahead of the full-fat A45), buyers craving hot hatch performance have just one choice: the range-topping A250. With a 221bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, a 0-62mph time of just 6.2sec and multi-link rear suspension, it looks like it could have the measure of the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG Line on the road

From the minute you set off, it’s immediately apparent that Mercedes has created a car that, for the moment, at least, is in a class of its own – and we mean that in the most literal sense. You see, despite its performance stats indicating otherwise, the A250 isn't a hot hatch. Instead, it's a luxurious and comfortable commuter car that just so happens to have the straight-line performance of the Golf GTI and Hyundai i30N.

Down rutted B-roads complete with gaping potholes and sections of rough Tarmac, the A250 is remarkably compliant, keeping you and your passengers isolated from all but the very worst of imperfections. Where the i30N or GTI would shimmy or skip, the A250 simply translates sudden aberrations into registrable but untroubling patters.

Of course, the pay-off for this impressive ride is more body float and lean than you would expect from a car with β€˜AMG’ in its name, but it’s far from offensive. Indeed, the lean through faster corners happens so progressively that the car never feels unstable during quick changes of direction. And thanks to steering that builds weight in a very natural way as you turn in to corners, it’s easy to place the car where you want it on the road.

As it turns out, that's rather useful when you have 221bhp at your disposal. The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine (which will also be used in the A35 but with the wick turned up) feels genuinely punchy when you rev it beyond 5000rpm, with the slick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox allowing you to keep it on the boil at all times.

Our only complaint is that the accompanying four-cylinder dirge sounds out of place in a car capable of baiting the sporty-sounding GTI.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG Line interior

Despite the A250’s impressive performance, we suspect that the interior will remain the A-Class’s main selling point for the majority of buyers. Unlike the Golf, Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series, the A-Class offers buyers the kind of interior that you’d expect to find in a luxury saloon. Think jet-style air vents, copious amounts of suede and leather and a huge infotainment screen reminiscent of an iPad (a must-have Β£1395 option that you can read more about here).

And in terms of specification, the A250 is generously equipped. As standard, you get keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, a DAB radio, an infotainment system with Siri-style voice control, supremely supportive sports seats that are designed to hold you in place better through corners and a Nappa leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Practicality is less impressive, though, with the A-Class providing rear passengers with less room than the A3. You can read more about outright practicality in the space and practicality section of our full A-Class review.

Next: 2018 Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG Line verdict >

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