NEW CAR REVIEW – 80mpg from this Merc
Mercedes-Benz has long been noted for large luxury cars and performance models, so when in 1997 it decided to produce its Mercedes-Benz A-Class compact hatchback, there were a lot of raised eyebrows.
The early A-Class models had handling issues, but the company quickly remedied that and since then the model has continued to be re-vamped and improved and has enjoyed significant sales.
Current models are larger, better equipped and far better looking than the dumpy original.
Prices start at just over £21,000, though you can pay almost twice that for the flagship versions.
There are petrol and diesel engines, and many buyers will opt for the 1.8 litre diesel in the featured test model, which though not too quick off the mark, returns 80 mpg combined and is also very green – just 89 g/km.
In SE specification, it is just above entry level and costs £22,140. For that you get a well-kitted car which includes alloy wheels, multi-airbags, radio/CD/MP3/iPod unit and Bluetooth, four power windows, adjustable steering column and steering wheel, traction and cruise control, and air-conditioning.
As with most Mercedes models, there is a potent front-end look dominated by the famous three-pointed star. Inside, the dashboard is also impressive, with classy design featuring eye-catching air-vents.
The instruments and switchgear are well-placed for ease of use, including batches on the steering wheel.
Seating is comfortable, and the driving position offers good visibility and with plenty of seat adjustment.
And with adjustable steering wheel and steering column, there is no problem getting the right driving position.
Rear seat accommodation is not as spacious as the exterior suggests due to wheel-arch intrusion, which also impacts on the boot space, though with 341 litres, it is still fairly typical of class standards. And it can be boosted to 1,157 litres by dropping the rear seats which for maximum practicality fold almost completely flat.
Underway, the A-Class offers smooth straight line refinement and ride comfort but can be a little nervous and unsettled on rougher roads, and cornering pitch is more than you might expect.
Even so, given the outstanding fuel economy and green credentials, and the kudos of the Mercedes brand, these shortcoming are easily outweighed.
FOR: Striking looks and strong badge status.
AGAINST: Ride quality and handling could be better.