Driven: 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220
  • Car Review

Driven: 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220

By David Undercoffler | February 18, 2020

Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Probably
Price range: $34,000 - $36,000, before options but including destination


Key takeaways:

  • The smallest and cheapest sedan in Mercedes’ lineup.
  • Similar to Mercedes' CLA four-door coupe, but this A220 is more modern as it’s built on Mercedes’ latest small-vehicle platform.
  • Provides great pep and handling, for both daily driving and canyon carving.
  • Truck is surprisingly spacious considering the size of the car.
  • Options can quickly push the sticker price too high.

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What is it?

The Mercedes-Benz A220 is a new compact luxury sedan from Mercedes. It’s sold alongside the brand’s CLA four-door coupe, which runs a few thousand dollars more and is currently using a previous-generation platform and interior.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is all-new, and new to the U.S. market, though it’s been around in other markets (as a hatchback) for years.

This entry-level sedan comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The base model we tested is front-wheel-drive, while the all-wheel-drive 4Matic model will run you another $2,000. Both versions use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters.

Soon a performance-oriented A35 AMG version will be available, which will offer 302 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, plus standard all-wheel-drive. Budget at least $45,000 when this model hits the US market.

Mercedes is also expected to release an even hotter A-Class sedan, dubbed the A45, that should pack over 400 horsepower and all-wheel-drive.

Turning back to the A220, it’s aimed at fellow entry-level luxe sedans like the Audi A3, BMW’s upcoming 2-Series four-door coupe, and Acura ILX. The A220 sits at the bottom of Mercedes’ sedan lineup, which includes the aforementioned CLA, C-Class, E-Class, CLS, S-Class, and Mercedes-AMG GT four-door coupe.


What’s good?

TLDR: Peppy, good-looking, and full of luxury.

Handsome: It’s not always easy to make a small vehicle look as handsome as the larger ones in a brand’s lineup. So give Mercedes a heap of credit for being able to make the A-Class sedan just as stylish as anything else the brand sells. This also help make it look more upscale and expensive than it really is; though it may be the cheapest car wearing a tri-star emblem, no one told the A-Class that.

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Actual luxury: Though our base tester had thousands of dollars of options added to it, buyers don’t have to spring for the loaded version to feel like they’re in a luxury car. The base base version -- without any options -- still comes with basically everything you’d want in a luxury vehicle (our biggest gripe was the lack of heated seats).

Plenty of Go: We were continuously impressed with the pep the A220 has. Many turbocharged, four-cylinder vehicles (mostly from the German brands) have traditionally suffered from turbo lag and have missed that feeling of true acceleration power. Not this Mercedes; the torque and horsepower are more than enough -- even from a dead stop -- to get the car moving quick.


What’s bad?

TLDR: Options get pricey, rear seat is tight, handling could be sharper.

Options add up: We would have been plenty happy with the base A220 at $34,000. But our tester’s $45,000 sticker was a little too rich for our blood. While some of the ad-ons were nice (an $850 Burmester sound system was a bargain), others didn’t seem worth it (like the $2,310 AMG styling kit or the $1,440 uptick for leather seats). Still others should have been standard in the first place (heated front seats for $580? A garage door opener for $280?).

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Tight rear seat: This should come as no surprise given the car’s small size, but we were hoping for a little more room in the rear seat. Certainly not a dealbreaker by any means, but if you’re regularly shuttling around tall people in the back seat, this might not be the car for you.

Handling quibbles: While we were generally impressed with the eagerness of the A220 in daily driving, at times its dynamic character could be a bit vague -- steering and handling and whatnot. But we’re willing to forgive this since the front-wheel-drive A220 isn’t meant to be a performance sedan.


5 stars of execution

Safety Features? NO

  • The A220 comes standard with your usual run of standard safety equipment but it lacks as standard gear the kinds of active safety features that you’d hope to see on any vehicle in 2020 -- much less a luxury model that starts around $34,000.
  • The one exception to this is the inclusion of pre-collision automatic emergency braking.
  • Drivers who relish active safety should consider the $2,250 Driver Assistance Package. It adds a thorough suite of features that includes radar cruise control, active steering, evasive steering assist, automatic emergency braking with a cross-traffic function, lane-change assist, and blind-spot assist.

Value? YES-ish

  • Lack of standard and active safety features notwithstanding, Mercedes does pack a lot of value into the A220. Standard gear includes faux-leather seats, seven-inch screens for the instrument panel and the dashboard, a panoramic roof, LED headlights and taillights, a touchpad to control the infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • This means buyers can opt for a base A220 and still feel like they got more for their money than just the Mercedes emblem.

Efficiency? YES

  • The front-wheel-drive A220 that we tested is rated by the EPA at 24/35/28 MPG city/highway/combined.
  • That’s about on par with other cars in its segment, including the BMW 2 Series and the Acura ILX; however, Audi’s A3 manages better fuel economy on the FWD model.
  • We averaged about 27 mpg in our week of testing in mixed city and highway driving.

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Driving experience? YES

  • We were pleasantly surprised by how quick the A220 was, thanks to its turbo engine.
  • There was no meaningful turbo lag during hard acceleration or pulling away on the freeway.
  • The A220 is a savvy blend of everyday driveability and just enough scoot and excitement to keep you interested.

Execution? YES

  • The A220 is a welcome addition to the world of small luxury sedans. It gives buyers all the style, comfort and features of larger luxury cars and SUVs but in a less expensive, smaller package.
  • It’s an adept daily-driver that’s also packed with the right amount of practicality and fun-to-drive.
  • It’s not always easy for a luxury brand to build an entry-level model that still feels true to that brand, but Mercedes has accomplished this here.

Total Rating: 4 stars


What’s it gonna cost me?

The base A220 starts at just under $34,000 for the front-wheel-drive model. Standard features on all models includes faux leather seats that are power-operated up front, 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, dual-zone climate control, app connectivity including remote start, panoramic roof, 17-inch alloy wheels, a start/stop system, LED headlamps and taillamps, backup camera, a seven-inch digital instrument panel plus a dashboard-mounted, seven-inch touchscreen for infotainment system that is controlled by touchpad, and Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

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Front-wheel-drive is standard on the A220, while Mercedes’ A220 4Matic all-wheel-drive system adds another $2,000.

Despite this reasonable starting price, our tester clocked in at a cool $45,200. What happened? Options, lots of them.

The big ones were the $1,550 Premium Package (which added two huge 10.25-inch digital screens, one for the instrument panel and one for the dashboard; keyless entry and start, and power-folding side-view mirrors), and the $2,310 AMG line package (unique exterior body cladding and grille, and perforated disc brakes). There were others that should come standard on any luxury car -- entry-level or not -- like heated front seats or blind-spot assist.


Also consider

This Mercedes A220 doesn’t have a deep bench of competitors against it.

BMW is about to launch a new front-wheel-drive 2 Series four-door coupe that will likely be the A-Class’s biggest rivals. There’s also Audi’s A3 sedan and Acura’s ILX.

While we haven’t yet driven the BMW, we would recommend that people interested in the A220 take a look at the A3 as well, though we’d probably choose the Mercedes if for no other reason than it’s much newer. The Acura can’t quite match this A220 in terms of panache but it’s also thousands of dollars less than the three German models listed here.