Entry price: $32,800
Price as tested: $43,745
Years ago when talk turned to Mercedes-Benz manufacturing, prospective consumers were usually talking about the full-size to intermediate German brand of luxury automobiles. Further, Mercedes-Benz earned its reputation based on owner satisfaction and the strength of millions of satisfied European customers, which later successfully infiltrated the huge, post WWII North American luxury market.
If you didn’t own a Cadillac, Lincoln or Imperial back in the early 1960s, surely there was an imported Mercedes-Benz parked in your driveway. Many Mercedes-Benz sales back then took place at authorized Studebaker dealerships until official, stand alone, Mercedes-Benz dealerships took off beginning in 1965. With the impending demise of Studebaker, many dealers took advantage of the offer to become an official Mercedes dealer.
And through all of the Mercedes-Benz history that dates back to 1886, its lineup of cars, trucks and SUVs has grown to include this week’s test drive, namely the all-new fourth generation subcompact A-Class A220 4Matic with an entry price of just $32,800 for the front-drive or $34,800 or the AWD 4Matic.
These low entry prices allow prospective consumers from many diverse demographic groups to visit an area Mercedes-Benz dealership with full intentions to buy, whereas some 40 years ago, if you owned a Mercedes-Benz you had to be part of the upper-class demographic with just a handful of cars to choose from. Today, there are 11 sedan/coupe models to choose from ranging from a low of $32,800 for the A-series we tested this week to top line Mercedes-Benz S-Class, where you’ll need $235,000 for its top trim.
Our all-new A220 4Matic is the all-wheel-drive smaller sedan powered by a 188 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that delivers 221 ft. lb. of torque. Fuel mileage is very good at 24 city and 34 highway keeping in mind this is a 4x4 vehicle. Called 4Matic All Wheel Drive, it connects to a fine shifting seven-speed automatic transmission and the 4x4 mechanical input is fully automatic. It’s a proven system that delivers the extra traction when and where needed.
Notable is the Mercedes seven-speed automatic, now a dual-clutch design and the best in modern day gear shifting technology. These transmissions are similar to manual transmissions in that its gear exchange patterns and everyday reliability were developed in major league auto racing, especially Mercedes-Benz Formula 1, where the company has won countless races and championships, including the most recent.
A dual-clutch transmission is actually a manual transmission controlled by a computer that utilizes two clutches instead of one. One clutch controls the even gears, and the second clutch the odd gears.
All dual-clutch transmissions shift gears faster and are more fuel-efficient than both a conventional one-clutch automatic and even the manual six-speeds and up nowadays. With technology like this as standard fare in the A220 4Matic coupled with its low entry price, those shopping this subcompact/compact market must test drive one before making a decision.
As for acceleration, you’ll hit 60 mph from a dead start in about 7.1 seconds. Selectable ECO, Sport, Individual and Comfort drive modes are driver preferences as is utilizing paddle shifters if desired.
Outwardly, the A220 series is clearly a Mercedes-Benz family member in that you can’t miss the front grille and its prominent three-pointed star Mercedes-Benz badge, always front and center. I drove this car for a week, and not once did it feel “subcompact” to me, especially riding on a wheelbase that is more in tune with compact dimensions. The first A Class back in 1998 had a wheelbase of 101.1 inches, while this new fourth generation features more than 107 inches.
Standard on all A220 4Matics are power sunroof, Bluetooth, Apple and Android compatibility, power driver seat with lumbar, dual zone climate, keyless entry and start, and all the modern safety equipment that includes emergency braking.
Underneath, a MacPherson strut front combines nicely with a multi-link rear setup for fully independent handling and reliability. I’ll admit the ride is a bit stiffer, but that’s a Mercedes-Benz A-Class trait that in my opinion is all the better. The standard 17-inch tires on nice lightweight alloy wheels add to the traction capabilities, but our tester arrived with 18-inch rubber on special black twin spoke alloy wheels for $500 more and recommended.
The interior is well done, although the backseat is where perhaps the subcompact classification is more true to form. If you’re a larger adult, the front seat may be the place for you. The seating is firm and very comfortable, with good side support. Notable is the Mercedes-Benz User Experience with user user-friendly tech. Its intuitive speech interface is easy to learn and the dashboard is all dressed up in user friendly controls. Thus, with a touchscreen in the dash, a touchpad on the console, and Touch Control Buttons on the steering wheel, the A-Class controls are as easy to use by scrolling, swiping and selecting from menus on the dual-dash displays.
Options were many. In addition to the tire and wheel upgrade, our tester featured a $2,250 Driver Assistance Package that includes active brake assist, distance assist, steering assist, lane change assist, blind spot assist, speed limit assist and much more. I recommend this high-tech safety addition as it’s worth every penny. A multimedia package adds the aforementioned User Experience and Navigation for $1,150; Premium Package adds enhanced displays for $1,650; Wireless Charging is $200; Heated Front Seats adds $580; SiriusXM with three free months adds $460 (should be standard); Dynamic Body Control is $850; and ambient lighting costs another $310. These options pushed the final retail to $43,745 that includes $995 delivery. Your Mercedes-Benz dealer will explain all options and packages in detail when you visit.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 107.4 inches (large for a subcompact), curb weight 3,395 lbs., 8.6 cu. ft. of cargo space, 13.5 gal. fuel tank and 36.1 turn circle.
There’s much to like about this new A-Class 4Matic sedan, as it’s a really nice entry level Mercedes-Benz that brings into reach the reality of owning a prestigious motor car respected worldwide.
And for me? I’ll take the new A-Class in its top form, namely the AMG A35 4Matic performance version that puts out 302 horsepower from the same 2.0-liter engine and goes zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds. It’s given the AMG performance treatment for $10K more.
Likes: Large for a subcompact, drivetrain, 4Matic traction, Mercedes tradition.
Dislikes: Some options should be standard, tighter rear quarters, not much cargo space.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive column: 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 4Matic
Entry price: $32,800