Spring in the steps

Sus­pen­sion tweaks give hatch the lux­ury feel to go with the badge

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDITOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

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

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