Spring in the steps
Suspension tweaks give hatch the luxury feel to go with the badge
THE Mercedes that’s the same price as a Holden Commodore has been given a freshen-up and a technology boost.
All A-Class models will come standard with satnav, Apple CarPlay, keyless start, blind spot warning and rear camera.
There’s a catch: prices across the range — now $35,900 to $75,800 — are expected to rise by up to 5 per cent.
The updated hatch has just gone on sale in Europe and is set to arrive in Australian showrooms in December.
Visual changes are subtle — there’s a new front bumper and a garnish in the rear bumper that covers the muffler and suspension — but so too are the refinements.
The twin-clutch automatic transmission is a smoother operator than before and most of the engines have slightly more power and/or improved fuel economy.
But the biggest change is to the suspension. The original A-Class felt as if it had rocks under it, now there’s no need to brace for bumps. It means the A-Class finally has the luxury feel to go with the badge.
In Australia, three out of four A-Class buyers are new to the brand. As a sign of our changing taste in cars and the trickle down of prestige brands, the average A-Class buyer is 34 years old.
Global sales in the past two years alone have more than doubled, from 226,000 in 2012 to 463,000 in 2014. The success of the A-Class has even come as a surprise to Mercedes.
The 1997 original was a tall, roomy and practical boxshaped design.
The new third-generation model is much smaller and even a tight squeeze in the rear seat, largely due to the sloping roofline.
But buyers rate the design of the new model as the No. 1 reason for buying it, showing that less can sometimes be more.
The Australian range will start as before with the A180 (currently $35,900) and stretch to the autobahn-storming A45