At relatively accessible pricing, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class may well be the gateway to luxury-car ownership and the beginning of a beautiful brand loyalty for younger buyers. Yet it could just as easily be a smart choice for any members of the Mercedes-Benz faithful looking to downsize (or purchase a second or third vehicle) without sacrificing quality, driving manners, and cool technology.
From the exterior design to the optional active safety features, all the right ingredients are in the A-Class to make it a bona-fide Benz. This includes the latest generation of infotainment system that’s being phased in to bigger and more expensive 3-pointed-star cars. Called MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User eXperience), it has a digital assistant (like the iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa) that’s summoned by saying, “Hey, Mercedes.”
It understands natural speech and will respond to things like “I’m cold” and “I’m hungry” or “where’s the nearest Starbucks?” Admittedly, it might also chime in with “how can I help you?” if the word “Mercedes” comes up in conversation, but that’s still a reminder of how far infotainment systems have come.
Driving the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
To the surprise of no one, the 2021 A-Class has superb driving dynamics. The setup is composed, well-mannered and fun, whether deploying front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in the 4Matic version.
The fully-independent suspension is tuned like a typical European sports sedan — taut, but not punishingly so. The steering is direct; turning into a corner is crisp and precise. If anything, we’d prefer regular tires to the standard run-flats for better ride quality and response.
Power from the turbocharged engine is sufficient to make the A 220 feel nimble and responsive. The 221 lb-ft of torque is the crucial factor here, kicking in at low engine speeds for some punch off the line. A 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission provides well-timed and almost imperceptible shifts, while a sequential manual-shift mode is available whenever the driver is in a sportier frame of mind.
The A 35 is a gentle introduction to what the AMG division is all about, enhancing power and suspension settings in pursuit of thrills, while adding more standard equipment.