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Mercedes A Class review

Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep

Mercedes-A_class-1

Look Out BMW, Audi, This Contender Will Rock You

“So far there have been no reports from Sweden concerning failed elk tests”

For – beautiful, high quality, great drive
Against – harsh suspension, pricey, too many opaque options
Rating – **** out of 5

I hadn’t realised just how much of step forward the stunning new Mercedes A Class was until a BMW 1 series pulled up alongside at a petrol station.

Looking at the two cars together, the BMW looked positively drab, while its other big competitor, the Audi A3, famously shuns any hint of design brio, at least on the surface. The A Class is going to shake up this market, if looks and image are all important, and they are.

Just consider the car the A class replaced. It was certainly innovative, with its so-called sandwich floor hiding the engine, main mechanicals and transmission, and was very practical for storage and comfort. But its egg-like body shape was deadly dull. The first A Class had its teething problems too. It survived a near-death experience at the hands of Swedish elks when it was introduced in 1998. The original A Class tipped over during a road test in Sweden, designed to replicate the kind of evasive action you might take if you encountered an elk while driving at high speed in the wild, northern part of the country. So far there have been no new reports from Sweden concerning failed elk tests. You will be glad to hear that no elks are involved in the high-speed swerve test, which uses strategically placed plastic cones. This new A Class is so sleek and low it would seem to lack the qualities needed to roll-over, ever.

Mercedes-A_class-6

Mercedes Benz had to withdraw the first A Class after the rollover, and suffered much embarrassment and spent much cash to make the stability control system standard across the range. Mercedes also lowered and stiffened the suspension before the car finally hit the market.

No such problems this time around, although the suspension seems unnecessarily harsh, especially on pot-holed British roads. You know; all of them. Inside, the car is every bit as stunning as the outside, with high quality materials which feel expensive. The target dials look nice. The big computer screen reminds you that high technology is the watchword. And of course when you have hi-tech, you know that its inventors might be super-smart techies, but useless at providing anything intuitive. This car has so much to offer, but it really calls for a day’s training course at the dealership. At least you could then find out how to switch off the binging and bonging sounds set off by driving down a narrow lane, and switch them on while parking. The system was strangely silent if you reversed close to another vehicle. How to operate the trip computer remained a mystery, but hey, what’s wrong with writing down the number before your start? The radio was a problem at first, and I don’t know if it was a problem with this particular DAB radio, but it kept falling out of contact with the selected station.

The steering and handling were very BMW-like, and if you point it, it remains pointed. The six-speed manual gearbox was excellent. The car feels very solid on the road. The 150 hp motor was pokey enough, although you have to use the gearbox to get over its lack of torque. The hill-hold ability is a bonus. The headlights provided a stunning amount of focussed light, and so it should for an extra £1,430 for the bells and whistles version.

And then there is the price. My car- the Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Sport – cost £24,015.000, but with all extras like Active Park Assist (£690), Intelligent Light System (£1,430), Memory Seats and Steering (£790), Entertainment and Sat Nav (£2,300) (memo-SatNav on your Smart mobile is free), the price zoomed to £33,655.00.

But you can spend less if you study the catalogue
The base price is £18,945, and engine choices range from 109 to 211 hp. Diesel choices are 1.5, two 1.8 and a 2.1 litre. Petrol engines are two 1.6 and two 2.0 litre. If you study the options and choices, I can guarantee you a headache and you will probably be none the wiser afterwards. If there’s a simple walkthrough of the choices, I didn’t find it. The base model A180 has a six-speed manual gearbox and includes adjustable suspension, fabric upholstery and somewhere to connect your iPod. The SE starts at £20,125, with a few more bits and pieces and either a 122 hp petrol motor or a 109 hp diesel.

“The diesel model returns 74.3mpg on the official combined cycle,” says Mercedes. That’s the “cycle” that mimics performance in a laboratory with no connection to the real world and is probably unobtainable.

Mercedes-A_class-4

The Sport, from £21,240, offers four engine options -two diesel, two petrol. You can order a seven speed automatic, and it comes with cruise control, rain sensors and interior ambient lighting. And then there’s the AMG Sport models, which start at £23,445, and include the Dynamic Handling Package with sports suspension; perforated disc brakes and cruise control, as well as AMG body styling.

Top of the range is the Engineered by AMG model, featuring bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights; red trim parts in the front and rear bumpers and privacy glass.

All engines feature start/stopand are available with the seven speed automatic.

The new A class is a little stunner from every angle with the exception of the rear. A visitor to my house thought I had a new Vauxhall Astra as she spied just the back end. But that is a small price to pay. It is a measure of the failure of the previous model that this new one looks completely different. Ever since I first set eyes on it at the Geneva show last year I’ve been lusting after a drive of this car, and I wasn’t disappointed. Look out BMW and Audi. Like an elk-test, you may have to take evasive action.

Mercedes A class 2013


 Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Sport
Engine:1.6 litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power:
156 hp @ 5,300
Torque:
250 Nm @ 4,000
Gearbox:
6-speed manual
Drive:
front wheels
Acceleration:0-62 mph-100 km/h – 8.4 seconds
Top Speed:139 mph-224 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 49.6 mpg-5.7 l/km WintonsWorld test – 35.6 mpg-7.9 l/km
CO2:136 g/km
Emissions class:
Euro V
Length:4,292 mm
Width:
1,780
Height:1,433
Weight:
1,935 kg
Wheel-base:2,699
Suspension:
MacPherson/multilink
Insurance Group:
23-24
Boot capacity:
341/1,157 litres
Competition:Audi A3, BMW 1 series, VW Golf, Lexus CT200h, Ford Focus, Volvo V40
Rating:****
Price:£24,015.00
For:beautiful, high quality, great drive
Against:harsh suspension, pricey, too many opaque options
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