Lower, wider and po­ten­tially sex­ier is Mercedes new A-class

Be­fore the A-class, Mercedes was known for large cars. Now smaller cars are key as Fred­eric Manby dis­cov­ered in Slove­nia.

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - ROAD TEST -

MERCEDES is about to shake up the mar­ket with its new A-class. The old one sold 2.1m. Here is its suc­ces­sor, a sleek car which makes the orig­i­nal look the frumpy­sen­si­ble shop­ping/school car it al­ways was. It is lower, longer, wider and you may think sex­ier. It ar­rives in Bri­tain in De­cem­ber.

Prices start at £18,945 for the A180 with a 1595cc 120bhp petrol engine with six speed gear­box. It records 0-62mph in 9.2 sec­onds, 51mpg and 129g/km of CO2. This is the only base-trim model sold in Bri­tain. Prices then jump to £20,125 for the SE ver­sion. Like all the range it car­ries the BlueEF­FI­CIENCY name and stop-start ig­ni­tion.

There are three petrol en­gines and three diesels at launch, all of them tur­bocharged and all avail­able (not in ev­ery trim level) with seven-speed au­to­matic gear­boxes for an ad­di­tional £1,450. The shift lever is col­umn mounted and easy to use. The cheap­est au­to­matic is the A180 petrol SE at £21,575. It records 52.3mpg and 127gkm CO2.

The A200 petrol with 154 bhp from the 1595cc engine and the 208 bhp A250 with a 1991cc engine (au­to­matic only) com­plete the petrol mod­els.

The star of the diesel en­gines is the A180 CDI. Its 1461cc engine pro­duces 107.5 bhp, 74.3mpg and 98g/km CO2, so no an­nual road tax or Lon­don con­ges­tion zone pay­ment. It costs from £21,200 in SE trim. The other diesels at launch are the 1796cc 134 bhp A200 CDI. The au­to­matic diesels at launch have this engine. Com­ing next year is the A220 CDI.

The en­gines all meet 2016 emis­sion tar­gets with ad­vanced in­jec­tion, tim­ing and com­bus­tion sys­tems.

Stan­dard items in­clude the radar con­trolled rear col­li­sion preven­tion sys­tem which gives emer­gency brak­ing if you do not hit the pedal hard enough. There is Blue­tooth, a 5.8 inch in­for­ma­tion screen and the pre-wiring for the neat Becker plug-in nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem – or Mercedes’s pukka full-house nav­i­ga­tion at much greater cost.

The SE (A180 petrol and diesel) has 16 inch al­loy wheels, sports seats with jazz­ier fab­rics and Com­fort sus­pen­sion. The Sport (A180 and A200 petrol and diesel mod­els) adds 17 inch wheels, cruise con­trol, vis­i­ble ex­haust pipes and trim and kit up­grades.

The AMG Sport (A200 petrol and diesels, A220 CDI and A250) adds AMG styling and 18 inch wheels, sports sus­pen­sion, per­fo­rated disc brakes and a dy­namic han­dling kit. The “En­gi­neered

Dieter Zetsche has am­bi­tions to wrest con­trol of the ‘com­pact’ pre­mium sec­tor from BMW.

by AMG” mod­els (A250 and the A220 CDI) bring AMG sus­pen­sion, a rortier engine note, ad­justable sta­bil­ity con­trol in the slip, bi-xenon head­lamps and day­light LED, pri­vacy glass, red brake cal­lipers, a glossier grille and other cos­met­ics. From £28,775 it is the most ex­pen­sive model.

The com­pany chief, Dieter Zetsche, has am­bi­tions to wrest con­trol of the “com­pact” pre­mium sec­tor from BMW (and Audi should you re­gard its A3 as premier ma­te­rial). The lat­est front- wheel-drive B-class Mercedes pre­ceded the A-class with the new plat­form and in the next few years it will also make coupe and SUV mod­els, plus an­other un­spec­i­fied body.

It en­ters a world of smart phones – which can be in­te­grated to send spo­ken emails while on the move.

UK show­rooms have the car in De­cem­ber and I’d ex­pect a strong or­der log. For around £21,000 I can buy a pukka, proper Mercedes (made in Ger­many – or Hun­gary for some mar­kets) which costs the same as, say, a fully spec­i­fied Ford Fo­cus and will have a much bet­ter trade-in value – and that 98g/km CO2 econ­omy.

Be­hind the wheel the seats feel low be­cause the dash­board top is high – or vice versa. All the in­te­rior bright­work is gal­vanised in sil­ver chrome – so is cool to the touch, not warm like plas­tic. Mi­nor stor­age is well thought out with a handy lid­ded box on the trans­mis­sion tun­nel but the gloves box does not lock.

There is an elec­tric park­ing brake – its con­trol rather lost un­der the fas­cia and only auto-re­leas­ing with au­to­matic gears. The man­ual re­lease with man­ual gears is a safety pre­cau­tion in case your foot slipped off the clutch when hold­ing it at a junc­tion.

There is leather as an op­tion or as a cheaper veg­e­tar­ian op­tion the very con­vinc­ing ARTICO syn­thetic. The op­tional sun­roof’s tilt func­tion closes an inch at higher speed to re­duce drag and wind noise but still give a sem­blance of fresh air. The fit and fin­ish is sound and at­trac­tive. The rear chairs fold to make a flat floor with­out the need to re­move head­rests.

A-LIS­TER: The dash in­cludes a 5.8 inch in­for­ma­tion screen while the lat­est de­sign makes the orig­i­nal car look frumpy and sen­si­ble.

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