New A and B worth a see
The smallest Mercedes get a fresh look inside and out, writes NEIL McDONALD
THE smallest letters in the Mercedes-Benz alphabet, A and B, have been massaged with a makeover. Upgrades include some exterior visual tweaks to freshen the A-Class and B-Class, revised interiors and the addition of a 2.0-litre turbodiesel in the A-Class.
The A180 CDI costs $39,990 and is available with either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic.
For the first time an active parking assist reversing system is also available in the A and B.
The system is a $4680 option on the A170 and A180 CDI as part of a ‘‘metro’’ pack that includes a continuously variable automatic, cruise control and 12-volt socket in the luggage compartment.
The system is standard on the A200 three and five-door and turbo.
On the B-Class the same system costs $4160 on the B180 CDI and B200 as part of the same option pack but is standard on the B200 turbo.
The parking system uses ultrasonic sensors to identify suitable parking spaces, then automatically guides the car into the space. It is similar to that available in some Volkswagen models.
Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy expects a strong take-up of the parking system as well as the new turbodiesel in the A-Class.
‘‘We think the A180 CDI will attract more people to the brand,’’ he says.
A and B-Class sales have dipped this year by more than 30 per cent before the arrival of newer models.
Though the C-Class remains the volume seller here, McCarthy says he expects the A and B to lift volumes, particularly the turbodiesel in the A-Class.
The new 80kW/250Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel A-Class is the sixth model in the brand’s entry line-up and shares its engine with the B-Class.
In the A180 CDi it hits 100km/h in 10.8 seconds and delivers peak power at 4200 revs and peak torque between 1600 and 2600 revs.
The frugal diesel has a combined fuel economy of 5.2 litres/100km.
Like all A-Class models, the A180 CDI has a comprehensive safety story, including electronic stability control, anti-skid brakes, brake assist, acceleration skid control, eight airbags and a full-sized spare wheel.
Comfort features include climate control, multi-function steering wheel and display, Bluetooth connectivity and a splitfold rear seat.
Moving up a notch, the B-Class, like its little brother, gains updates from the bumpers and headlights to seat trim and upgraded audio.
The front bumper gets a larger air intake and more aggressive treatment. Visual upgrades include bodycoloured mirrors, door handles and lower side skirts on all models.
Inside, the B-Class gets brushed aluminium highlights on the dashboard, reach-adjustable steering and hill-start assist.
Prices for the A and B have risen slightly. The A-Class is up from $500-$800 depending on the model and the B-Class has risen $400 across the board.
The entry 1.7-litre A170 coupe costs $35,500. The top-range A200 turbo costs $49,500.
In a flash: the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch. In the A and B, flashing brake lights activate if the driver brakes at more than 50km/h.