I drove a $46,000 Mercedes-Benz A220 to see if the entry-level luxury sedan is worth the price — here's the verdict

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe Mercedes A220 4Matic.
  • The 2019 Mercedes-BenzA220 is an entry-level four-door in Mercedes A-Series, which has only recently hit US shores.
  • The nearly-$US50,000 car I tested was packed with performance extras and technology.
  • Budget-minded buyers might look elsewhere, but the A220 is fun to drive, easy on gas, and a great introduction to the Mercedes way of life.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Mercedes-Benz has been selling cars in the US for decades, but until quite recently, Americans were denied the rinky-dink A-Class vehicles that Mercedes had delivered elsewhere on the globe.

The A-Class was created in 1997. I saw my first one in the early 2000s – I’m pretty sure it was a Brazilian-made car that had been sold in Mexico and had made its way to a parking structure in downtown Los Angeles.

Fifteen years later, the A-Class has finally made it to the USA, for its fourth generation. I had never driven one before, so I was delighted to check out a 2019 A220 sedan with Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. My tester didn’t have an official sticker price, but by my estimation it was roughly $US46,000.

That ain’t chump change, but my A220 did have pretty much every option that could be added; base-priced examples hover around $US32,000, which is about $US10,000 cheaper than the lowest-grade C-Class. Bear in mind that you are getting a Merc that, unlike other sedans in the automaker’s long history, is based on a front-wheel-drive architecture – the same idea behind Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas.

I tried to avoid allowing my bias for rear-drive German luxury sedans to come into play with the A220. And when it was all a wrap after a week in the New York-New Jersey area, I was perfectly happy with the Benz’s engineering.

But what about the rest of the ride? Read on to see what I thought.

Photos by Hollis Johnson.


Why, whatever could that be lurking in the urban jungle?

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Well, it’s no beast, but it is the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4Matic sedan. The A220 is a subcompact four-door that now slots in below the C-Class. A-Class rides are Mercedes’ new point-of-entry.

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In “Iridium Silver Metallic,” the A220 looks sharp, but it also blends in.

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Yeah, not always easy to tell that the car is a Mercedes-Benz.

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If I had to sum the A220 up, I’d say the front is sleek and elegant, while the stubby rear … is not.

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The compact stance definitely works better up front. My A220 had a special AMG Line package ($US2,600 extra) that included a diamond-block grille, vented front disc brakes, and a dropped suspension.

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The Mercedes tri-star badge is prominent against the blacked-out grilled, with a pair of chrome wings that add some real design energy to the fascia.

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And of course, the hood ornaments of yore, so easy to steal, have been supplanted by bas-relief badges.

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The sloping roofline is on-trend for auto design these days, but I’m no fan of the A220’s rear end, which manages to be both truncated and insubstantial.

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It’s also rather busy, with the angled tail lights crowding out the tri-star badge. The dual exhaust pipes look good, however.

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The wheels on my A220 were snazzy AMG multispokes. They were 19-inches and $US500 extra, but very much worth it.

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To be honest, I think the A220’s design is mostly successful, given its scale. The idea of a small Mercedes is a tough sell, and the A220’s styling works well with what it has. Overall, the sedan simply has a lightness that could appeal to some buyers. But it might be a turn-off to longtime Benz fans.

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The interior of the A220 should turn off nobody, however. On the inside, Mercedes is doing a phenomenal job with its cars, balancing bling with posh and throwing in a heapin’ helpin’ of high tech.

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The seats are upholstered in two-tone leather: “Titanium Grey/Black.” It’s a handsome colour scheme, a bit less flashy than what I’ve seen on more upscale Mercs.

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For some, Mercedes bling is off-putting. I’d call the A220’s interior minimalist and tasteful. Minimalist, that is, in the Mercedes context — an Audi this isn’t.

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The grabber is the large instrument panel/infotainment screen that extends across the left half of the dashboard.

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The instruments are all digital, and the resolution is stunning.

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See what I mean?

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The main section of the infotainment screen is in the driver’s line-of-sight.

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The leather-wrapped steering wheel is outfitted with the usual batch of buttons, thumbwheels, and switches, controlling many vehicle functions and enabling the driver to keep those hands on the wheel.

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The entire screen is over 20 square inches. The 10.25-inch infotainment aspect runs Mercedes pretty good, yet not great, system.

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Resolution is crisp, GPS navigation is solid, and Bluetooth device pairing is easy. There are also USB/AUX ports for gadget integration.

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My A220 had an $US850 Burmester “Surround Sound” audio system that sounded fantastic, full of dynamic range and detail. A SiriusXM satellite radio subscription was also included.

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The screen also provides info on drive modes and offers numerous ways to customise interior lighting and vehicle settings. (You have 64 interior lighting options to choose from.)

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The system uses a touchscreen, but there’s also this wrist-rest configuration with buttons and inputs to prevent excessive interaction with the screen while driving. It’s a mixed bag, performance-wise. I’d grade it a B-.

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The cameras provide plenty of views …

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… And can composite a bird’s eye view of the car. This makes for more precise manoeuvring.

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There’s push-button starting, as well as a stop-start function that can be deactivated.

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The powerplant is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 188 horsepower with 221 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a crisp-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch unit.

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The motor is one of the best things about the A220. Does it deliver a mountain of horsepower? No. But the combo of ponies and available torque makes for snappy driving, and the AMG performance goodies added to the car mean you’re getting a platform that can be pushed to max out its potential.

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So what’s the verdict on the Mercedes A220 4Matic sedan?

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Apart from my reservations about the design, which aren’t terribly substantial, I really liked the A220. It’s a capable daily driver, and even though its trunk isn’t huge, it’s big enough to provide some versatility for weekend road trips and grocery store runs. The back seat is snug, but this is a subcompact sedan, so expecting more would be pointless.

With a passel of performance features added in, I found the A220 to be one of those cars whose power can be fully accessed by mere mortals. Too many driver-oriented cars have so much punch that owners never get to use their vehicle’s full potential. Not so with the A220. I felt that I could grab all 188 ponies and 221 pound-feet of torque and direct it joyfully to the the wheels.

The 0-60 mph time is about six seconds, which is plenty quick. You’re also going to get reasonable fuel-economy, something in the ballpark of 30 mpg (the official numbers are 24 city/ 35 highway/ 28 combined). Impressive, and a strong argument for torque-y little turbo fours.

My tester came with a $US2,250 Driver Assistance Package that combines assorted safety features – lane-keep assist, blind-spot-assist, evasive steering – with some semi-self-driving tech, such as steering assist and augmented adaptive cruise control. They all worked as advertised, although I enjoyed driving the A220 so much that I didn’t rely on them.

Admittedly, there are cheaper four-doors in the world. But if the Mercedes name appeals to you – and it should, because Mercedes is doing some nice stuff these days with its cars and SUVs – the A220 is an excellent starting point. My test car pushed $US50,000, but it was optioned up the Teutonic wazoo; the A220 with front-wheel-drive and diminished tech can be had for far less.

I’d call that a good deal, enhanced by the fact that I enjoyed the A220 at least as much if not more than any small premium sedan I’ve driven in the past few years.

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