Sec­ond opin­ion

Wheels - - Rear View [Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport long-term Rev -

This week I

spot­ted a sil­ver ver­sion of the A-Class in the used car ads, which is pretty good go­ing given they’ve only been on sale here for a few weeks. I’ve been think­ing about buy­ing a car and this prompted me to ask my­self whether I would part with my own hard-earned cash for the Merc. The past few weeks have shown up plenty of pos­i­tives — the sharp han­dling, com­fort­able in­te­rior, great styling and re­spon­sive engine among them— but a few nig­gles too. The most no­table of th­ese in day-to-day driv­ing, other than the ridicu­lously small boot, is the steer­ing, which uses Mercedes’s Di­rect Steer­ing sys­tem. This “varies the steer­ing ra­tio ac­cord­ing to the steer­ing an­gle”, which in prac­ti­cal terms means that the front wheels turn more quickly the more you turn the steer­ing wheel. Un­for­tu­nately, this means there’s plenty of hy­draulics and mo­tors be­tween your hands and the road. On con­stant ra­dius turns, for ex­am­ple, the sys­tem seems to get caught be­tween two stools, mean­ing you can feel the steer­ing ra­tio chang­ing mid-cor­ner, which can be a bit un­set­tling. The big­gest flaw, though, is the price. Now, I’ve men­tioned this be­fore but the used car ad threw it back into sharp re­lief. Al­though this op­ti­mistic trader was hop­ing for a

James Hewes

is look­ing to buy a car and an ad­vert for a used A-Class has him shak­ing his head in dis­be­lief. Im­ages:

Dennis B Mal­lari

pre­mium on the ex­pected Dh140,000 list price, a quick flick through the ads re­vealed that for sim­i­lar money, I could take my pick of five-year-old 911s, hot Bim­mers or Audis. And if you want to go new, then it’s hard to see past sim­i­lar of­fer­ings from Ford and Volk­swa­gen, both of which are nearly as good but half the price. There’s no doubt that the A-Class rep­re­sents the cut­ting edge in terms of tech­nol­ogy for the hatch­back sec­tor, and its style and class are sec­ond to none. But I think if I was in the mar­ket for a hot hatch, I wouldn’t buy this one. I’d prob­a­bly buy a Fo­cus ST and pocket the dif­fer­ence, or maybe even dig out the ad for that used 911…

Straight­line per­for­mance is perky but the steer­ing weighs up in an odd man­ner around the bends

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