Chalk it up to a senior moment, I guess. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out how to put this week's tester — a Mercedes-Benz A220 sedan — into drive.
I could find no console sifter. No rotary dial. Not even a mouse.
It took me a good three minutes to realize that a little shaft on the steering wheel column, that looks like a windshield-wiper stalk, was actually the R-N-D shifter. Even discovering this didn't stop me later in the day from accidentally putting the car into neutral while trying to remove mist from the windshield.
Anyway, a day into my one-week test drive I felt like I had finally mastered the art of keeping the auto moving forward, which is does with grace and intent. The A220 4MATIC, when not layered with options, is an entry-level M-B with a list price of $34,500.
* Model: 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC sedan
* Exterior color: Mountain Gray Metallic
* Interior color: Black with red stitching
* Engine: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbo-charged
* Horsepower: 188
* Transmission: 7-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 34 mpg highway, 24 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Mercedes-Benz at Long of Chattanooga
* Price (as tested): $50,025
Mercedes-Benz at Long of Chattanooga on International Drive had two A-class sedans listed in digital inventory late this week
WHAT IS IT?
The Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC is a compact luxury sedan that competes with the Audi A3. The 4MATIC badge translates to all-wheel-drive. The interior is a tasteful blend of high-tech with retro flourishes, such as the lovely, circular climate control vents and metal accents. Meanwhile, the exterior is buttoned down, even conservative. A $1,550 premium package includes a pair of 10.25 inch digital displays that give the interior the appearance of a 21st century spacecraft.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Our tester, shown in Mountain Gray Metallic, rings up at $50,025, although about a third of the car's cost is tied up in options. Our favorites are the black AMG multi-spoke wheels (a bargain at $500) and heated seats ($580). Meanwhile, we could do without the 64-color ambient light package ($310) and the $1,150 hard-disc navigation system.
WHAT WE LIKED
The Mercedes-Benz A220 is a blast to drive. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine only makes 188 horsepower, but somehow it feels like a lot more. Perhaps it's the 221 pound-feet of torque.
The all-wheel-drive system is also a gift, especially if you have to navigate mountain roads in your daily commute. We also think you will eventually be able to find attractive lease deals on lightly-optioned A-class sedans. The design is also simple and elegant, or as my 12-year-old observed, it looks like a wannabe S-Class. There are worse things than resembling one of the world's best automobiles.
One of the coolest features is a forward-facing camera that activates at full stop — so if you are fiddling with the radio, say, your eyes never lose sight of the stoplight in front of you. Cool! Or as the young people say "chill"!
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Because of the low roof-line the rearward sight lines are pinched. Also, a few minutes of studying the owner's manual is a good idea. It took awhile, for instance, for me to figure out how to change satellite radio channels.
The A220 4MATIC is a solid driver's car with the cache of a Mercedes-Benz without a break-the-bank sticker price.
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