2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC: German Artistry

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

In this golden age of tech dominance and automotive self-awareness, Mercedes-Benz continues to revolutionize its squadron of sedans, SUVs, and performance machines with a plethora of advancements while steering consumers towards the path of least resistance. For instance, my notable testing of the A220 4MATIC sedan became elevated by a pulsating drive experience, mesmerizing multi-media functionality, and excellent fuel efficiency.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 4MATIC is a smaller touchstone of the company’s luxury fleet which resembles its siblings in styling and substance. It’s gorgeous, quick, and equally prolific for its stature. Expect a base price of $34,500, but like all German autos, you have to pay to play, so our loaded model came in at $49,758. However, there were no complaints since the A220 features the $2,310 AMG Body Styling package; the $1,550 Premium package with a 10.25” center display and 10.25” digital instrument cluster that resembles a Smart 4K UHD TV; $500 black multi-spoke AMG rims wrapped in 225/40R19 Pirelli high-performance tires; and the $2,250 Driver Assistance package which includes Active Brake Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Steering Assist, and much more!

In terms of design, the Mercedes ecosystem is pretty exquisite. Our Polar White exterior and Black Dinamica interior with red contrast stitching made date night with my wife prominent. The vehicle’s chrome-tipped diamond-block grille commands attention while the cabin allows passengers to enjoy the cleverness of German thoughtfulness. A panorama sunroof is a pleasant surprise on a car of this size as are the dual, meshed oval tailpipes to accentuate the rear properly. I was also mystified at the sizeable amount of trunk space during a shopping spree at Home Goods over the holiday weekend. Brushed aluminum trim is strategically placed in conspicuous places to flow with the leather and suede seats that are designed with manual thigh extenders while metal pedals give a hint to the sporty DNA of the A220.

As charismatic as the cabin is, the A220 is fun and exciting ripping around town in its efficient manner. The 2-liter, inline-4 turbo engine and 7G-DCT 7-speed automatic transmission with paddles shifters provide 25 city and 33 highway mpg en route to producing 188-horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. of torque. Along with 4MATIC AWD, the optional $850 sports suspension — inclusive of the Adaptive Damping System — allowed me to treat the little luxury car like a weekend performer. No, the A220 is not super explosive off the line, but it accelerates rapidly from every gear and cuts corners like startled housecats being chased by aggressive kids, especially when you choose Sport mode from the customizable DYNAMIC SELECT. However, you must be aware that Active Lane Keeping Assist is intensely bold and will brake suddenly and steer the Benz forcefully back into the lane if the turn indicators are not used. For the record, I am not a fan of this technique.

Driving after sunset was also pleasurable. My wooded neighborhood is devoid of streetlights, but deer are omnipresent so the Active LED Headlights that bend around corners and Adaptive Highbeam Assist were very helpful when returning home at night. Though, the 64-Color Interior Ambient Lighting package provided all the illumination needed to set the mood of choice.

Back inside the ride abounding technology will either satisfy your needs or lead to confusion. I’m a bit partial to too much AI taking over when I’m at the wheel. Conversely, many people I know are infatuated with the industry phenomenon. A few things I love about the A220’s brains include Head-up Display ($850), ATTENTION ASSIST, proper Bluetooth connectivity, five USB-c ports, an abundance of cameras and corresponding graphics, jet turbine reminiscent vents that cool and heat spectacularly, and the detailed intel provided by the COMAND apps. A few things that let me down was the weak charging capabilities of the wireless charge pad, the feeble tonality of the $850 Burmester sound system (the company’s premium systems are far superior), the hand precision needed to adjust the COMAND Touchpad Controller for simple tasks since there are no physical knobs except for a volume scroller, and lastly, in any Mercedes-Benz I’m always confused between the gear shift stalk to the right of the steering wheel column and the wiper stalk on the left. Nevertheless, I’m sure actual owners are accustomed to this setup.

The 2019  A220 4MATIC sedan is entertaining, attractive, and competent. This particular Mercedes-Benz is perfect for those with big expectations from small packages.

2017 BMW 5 Series: Yesterday a Vision, Today a Reality

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

It’s always a seminal moment when presented with test drive opportunities of a BMW sport sedan while voyaging the beautiful coast of California for days at a time. Recently this exact scenario manifested which allowed me to journey from Silicon Valley to north of San Pablo Bay in Napa Valley behind the wheel of an Alpine White 2017 BMW 540i Sedan with the M Sport Package. Its 3-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine was both efficient and robust and vehicle handling impeccable, especially if you opt for the $3,200 Dynamic Handling Package. But the main storyline here is the implementation of an array of digital, autonomous, and connected technology systems such as Remote Control Parking which permits the operator to park the Bimmer using the key fob while standing outside the vehicle! Amazing. [Read more…]

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG: Hyperventilation

MY2015 GLA45 AMGExperienced by Kimatni D Rawlins

Let’s make no mistake, the little Turbo, Direct Injected 2-liter occupying the GLA45 AMG is no joke. Although it’s small, the AMG engine also packs a Manny Pacquiao punch. In fact, it was quite challenging containing myself during a week of daily driving around Montgomery County, Maryland with the German pocket rocket which darts from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz (M-B) churns out more hits than country pop star Taylor Swift and hones ingenious strategies toward meeting consumer demands with intellectual technology, performance attributes and designs appealing to businessmen and women, Fit Fathers and families, female groups and now the youth generation with the CLA and GLA. If the markets sways in a direction that would routinely put pressure on mostly any other automaker, M-B will simply Shake It Off without hesitation and deliver yet another new model such as the GLA45 AMG. The sporty hatchback (M-B categorizes it as a compact SUV) was a warm welcome since my week of testing included several runs to Lowes for a ceiling fan and new bathroom installation materials; Michael’s to pick up fresh artwork for the living room; and grocery shopping for the family. That’s right, I’m a Fit Father and actually handle most of the matriarchal roles of our household. So the GLA was ideal for loading items in the rear (especially since the second row seats fold flat), parking in and out of shopping lots and dashing the Minions to school and practices. Aya and Mika definitely felt like the Cool Kids this week. [Read more…]

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 & CLA45 AMG

IMG_6190Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Growth is the name of the game in the luxury automobile business. One year you are selling 50,000 segment models and the next two years you are tripling production to stay ahead of or with the current leaders. Fortunately for Mercedes-Benz they are sitting atop the number one spot in overall luxury sales this year, slightly ahead of BMW. In fact, Mercedes will be launching 30 new or revamped products in the next seven years!  Well, we all know with business, to be the best you have to beat the best. So the German automaker from Stuttgart decided to create a new vehicle within its product portfolio titled the CLA, which they’ve been developing for the past five years. Think of a C-Class Coupe with fours doors, or a smaller CLS. [Read more…]