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2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
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The first-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class made its debut in 1997, but it only now comes to the U.S. and Canada in its fourth generation, as the lowest entry point into the three-pointed star. In prior iterations, Mercedes got a little weird in the entry-level space with the B-Class and CLA hatchbacks. Not so in the A 220, a handsome subcompact sedan that seats five and hides its front-drive proportions well. ""More mature, more defined, with much less sag in the surfacing than the previous car, the new A-Class looks like a much more expensive car than its predecessor,"" international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie said. The 2020 A-Class comes in two main flavors: the A 220 and A 35 AMG. Front-drive A 220s start at $33,495, with all-wheel-drive models adding $2,000 to the sticker. The $45,000 AMG variant at is expected in the spring of 2020, with revised aerodynamic bits, a tuned-up version of the 2.0-liter turbo-four delivering 302 horsepower and 295-lb-ft of torque, and goodies like a torque-splitting all-wheel-drive system and launch control. But before we get carried away, let's check out the base model. Benz has tried very hard to carry flagship S-Class style throughout its entire product line and does an amazing job inside the A 220. There are dual-color touchscreens for the instrument cluster, and the infotainment system is loaded with crisp graphics and informative displays. Mood lighting, laser-drilled Burmester-branded speaker grilles, even door-mounted seat controls, all surrounded by metallic accents and leather trim, feel very much ""on brand,"" at least at first glance. From a performance perspective, our A 220 test vehicle comported itself well at the test track. Our editors liked its linear power delivery, generally smooth upshifts, and sporty, tail-happy handling. ""It's a remarkably fun little bugger on the handling track,"" technical director Frank Markus said, noting the A 220's good body control. But on the lumps and ruts of real-world roads, the A 220 fell apart. Every editor noted its rough, noisy, non-premium ride. ""Isolation from coarse pavement is just OK, but—holy moly—broken/choppy pavement is a real problem, ""road test editor Chris Walton said. ""There's so little isolation from the road, even the floorpan was vibrating."" The more time spent with the car, the more weaknesses were revealed. ""Once you get past all the Mercedes jewelry, you start to notice where costs have been cut, particularly below eye level, where hard plastic is everywhere,"" guest judge Chris Theodore said. ""Lesser cars use higher-quality materials—but I doubt the target customer will notice the corner-cutting."" The 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class comes in two trims: A 220 and AMG A 35. The A 220 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (188 horsepower, 221 lb-ft of torque) that is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive is available as an option. The new AMG A 35 uses a similar powertrain, but output from the engine rises significantly to 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. The 4Matic is standard here. Feature highlights for the A 220 include LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, push-button start, simulated leather upholstery (MB-Tex), and power-adjustable front seats. On the tech front, you get a 7-inch central touchscreen, the MBUX infotainment system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking is also included. Mercedes offers a few option packages for the A 220. Key ones to look out for include the Premium package (keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring and bigger display screens), a Multimedia package (primarily adds an advanced navigation system), and the Driver Assistance and Parking Assistance packages. Mercedes hasn't released full details on the AMG A 35 yet, but we expect it will come with the Premium package as standard plus restyled exterior elements, a sport-tuned suspension, larger brakes and additional driving modes. Notable stand-alone options for the A-Class include an adaptive suspension, adaptive headlights, leather upholstery, massaging multicontour front seats, a wireless charging pad, a head-up display, and a 12-speaker Burmester surround-sound system.