First impressions can be a powerful thing and as I slid into the black leather bucket seats for my debut in the Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport, I have to admit I was not blown away.
Doing my best to ignore the searing heat which, having been left outside all day, had turned the hot hatch into a furnace, I immediately noticed some flaws.
The automatic gear stick was on the indicator; a method previously thought to be extinct and one I had only witnessed in American horror films. The display screen looked as if it had been clipped on as an afterthought and was positioned more towards the passenger than the driver.
Visibility was poor, with a small rear window and a larger-than-usual blind spot over my left shoulder and as I began to drive the A250 I experienced a few other aspects that failed to impress me.
But for all its problems, it did not take long to develop a genuine affection for the car and enjoy everything that is good about the latest hatchback from Mercedes-Benz.
Obviously targeting the young professionals market, the A250 Sport’s stylish, ultra-modern interior combines black leather and red stitching with bucket seats, red design belts and strategically positioned interior lights.
The display screen and media functions are very good. Despite the screen’s failure to be aimed towards the driver the sat-nav is excellent, connecting a phone is simple and iPod cables in the armrest enabled efficient music support.
The backseat, though not suitable for reasonably sized adults, is perfect for children and has some very obvious baby-seat buckles, offering not the subtlest of nudges towards parenthood. A panoramic sliding sunroof gives the car a saloon-feel.
Answering the young professionals’ demand for a greener world, the A250 goes above and beyond in its efforts to keep its carbon footprint on track.
The car’s on-board trip computer displays a breakdown of acceleration, smooth driving and coasting on the driver’s dash, showing in per cent how eco-friendly the driver was on their last journey.
It may not sound a terribly exciting function, but Mercedes has done well to make it an attractive point of focus while an ECO stop/start button keeps CO2 emissions down at the lights.
But despite its best efforts to be green the A250 Sport is not lacking for power when required.
A 2.0 litre turbocharged engine produces 211 horsepower, firing the car from 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h.
Activating the Sport button doesn’t offer any noticeably big change in performance, though the engine’s sound certainly improves; the deep rattle making a fantastic noise as you push the rev metre to its max.
The automatic gearbox can be a little jolty, particularly coming down the gears, while the paddles are smooth enough when the engine’s in manual mode.
Perhaps the best thing about this Mercedes though is its exterior; for a hatchback in particular, it looks fantastic.
The diamond radiator grille and AMG red trim on the front and rear apron give the A250 Sport a beautiful and athletic if menacing appearance. The five-spoke AMG light-alloy wheels add an executive touch.
Prices for the Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport start from Dhs138,105.