Mercedes A-Class

Mercedes A-Class 2013

THE MERCEDES A-CLASS is an all-new model, so radically different from the previous model  that you cannot even begin to compare the two. The latest version has an elegant yet potent look and though the smallest in the Mercedes stable, still exudes premium-sector class.

Prices for the Mercedes A-Class start at £18,970 with flagship version topping out at £28,800. There are three petrol options offering 121hp and 154hp from 1.6 litre engines and a 208 hp 2.0-litre. Diesel buyers can choose from two 107hp engines – a 1.5 litre with a manual gearbox and a 1.8 that comes with dual-clutch semi-auto transmission. There are  also a 134 hp 1.8 and 168 hp 2.1 diesels.

My recent test model was the 1.8 litre, with auto transmission operated via a short stalk on the steering column, with  a manual paddle-shift. It was the Blue Efficiency AMG Sport version costing £25,970, but laden with more than 30 optional extras which took the total price to a breath-taking £37,510. Extra kit included a sophisticated communications/entertainment unit which alone costs £2,100.

The car – which is much lower than the old A-Class – looks terrific from the outside and gives that hewn-from-solid-rock appearance which suggests the car will still be looking good and performing well 10 or 15 years down the line. Inside, the durable impression continues, though the cabin layout is not as user friendly as it might be. The electric handbrake, for example, is totally out of sight and has to be found by touch.

The cabin is roomy and comfortable though to some may feel mildly claustrophobic as the windows are very narrow, as is the rear screen. There is excellent occupant space front and rear and a big boot, 341 litres which boosts to 1,157 with the seats folded. It scores highly for practicality.

Performance is very good, with smooth power delivery, slick auto gearshift and reassuring handling characteristics. Engine noise from the 136 hp 1.8 litre diesel was louder than expected for a Mercedes but that is one of the few criticisms of a car which generally pleases and impresses.

Top speed of our Mercedes A-Class test model is 130 mph, the 0-60 mph time 9.2 seconds. Combined fuel economy is 65.7 mpg.

All models have seven airbags, Attention Assist (which monitors driver fatigue) and a radar-controlled collision-prevention system, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning or climate control. The sporty AMG models feature bespoke alloys, a more aggressively styled front grille and a subtle AMG bodykit among additional equipment.

No doubt about it, the new Mercedes A-Class makes a strong statement and offers a more affordable and much more stylish entry point to gain Mercedes-Benz cachet.

FOR: Mercedes badge status and strong re-sale values, eye-catching styling.

AGAINST: Restricted rear vision, growly engine.

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