The Cotswolds – A-Class Location For The Launch A New Small Mercedes
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was first launched back in 1997 and whilst radical in design, it proved a little too avant-garde for some. The third generation, launched in 2013, saw a distinct push up market and a more conventional hatchback look.
The plan clearly worked as the A-Class has sold extremely well in the UK. So far this year some 17,788 have left the showrooms, putting the smallest Merc in 8th place in the sales charts.
On sale now is the fourth generation, which aims to subtly improve the concept in all areas. A little wider and longer, the new A-Class aims to wow with innovative new technology, high levels of standard equipment and a classy interior!
The UK Media launch was based in the picturesque Cotswolds, so with the promise of an interesting car and some great driving roads I journeyed south.
From launch, Mercedes-Benz is offering a limited range of models. The choice for now is automatic gears and one diesel or two petrol engines. More powerful engines and a manual gearbox will be available by 2019 at the latest.
There is no need to wait as the current offerings have much to offer, with prices starting at £25,800 and some excellent PCP deals available with monthly payments as low as £299 (Deposit of £4,889.04 required, APR 5.9% - A 180 d SE model).
The 180 d uses a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, with 116hp and 260Nm of torque. It feels spritelier than the on paper performance figures would suggest (0-62mph in 10.5 seconds) and there is the added promise of up to 68.9mpg for the combined cycle.
Perhaps of more interest in these increasingly anti-diesel times, is the A 200.
Another diminutive new engine puts in an appearance in 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged guise. This 163hp motor endows the new A-Class with all the performance you could possibly require from a family hatch and it does so with some verve. The sprint to 62mph can be accomplished in just eight seconds says the fact sheet and it is wholly believable. Low emissions of just 123g/km CO2 and up to 51.4mpg means this is likely to be the best selling engine in the A-Class.
Those who must travel faster may well be drawn to the A 250 which boasts a 224hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It shaves two seconds or so off the timed sprint to 62mph, with little on paper penalty at the pumps. An extra £2,740 will be needed, but whether it is money well spent will have to wait for another day as I ran out of time to drive this variant.
Mercedes-Benz has always excelled at making great automatic gearboxes and it therefore came as no surprise to find the seven-speed box fitted to the A-Class was a smooth operator. Steering wheel paddles are fitted for those who like to exert their authority. Personally, I am happy to let my right foot and the gearbox do the work.
The manual gearbox, when it arrives, will doubtless improve economy and lower emissions. I would take the self-shifter and relax.
Three trim levels are available. All boast a touchscreen interface which includes MBUX (Mercedes User Experience) and ‘Hey Mercedes’ which allows you to shout commands at the car to control key features. The latter works quite well and allows hands to remain on the wheel and eyes to stay glued to the road.
Other key features on SE models include comfort suspension, 16” alloy wheels, DAB radio, air conditioning, keyless-go and satellite navigation with real-time traffic information.
Sport models add LED headlights, 17” alloys and climate control.
Top of the list are the AMG Line models with super-stylish 18” AMG alloy wheels, AMG bodystyling, sports seats and a three spoke steering wheel.
Mercedes-Benz expects this to be the most popular seller.
I would suggest ticking the box for the Executive equipment line pack (£1,395).
You get heated seats and Active Parking Assist, but more importantly you get a huge 10.25-inch media screen. Should you decline, the two small screens look somewhat lost in the large expanse of plastic. Ask to see both and decide for yourself.
Whichever trim takes your fancy, you will find the new A-Class a comfortable place to be. A little more spacious than its predecessor, four adults will find plenty of room to spread and a reasonable capacious 370-litre boot for luggage.
And comfort is the order of the day out on the road. The A-Class suspension is designed to insulate the car’s occupants from the worst stretches of tarmac and for the most part it succeeds, especially in top models which boast the more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension.
Handling is typical front-wheel drive, safe and secure, almost fun, only let down by the rather lifeless steering. However, let us not forget that this is not a hot hatch and I am sure would-be buyers will be well suited.
The new A-Class looks set to continue to remain a UK top seller. A high class interior, brimming with the latest technology and boasting a little extra space might be enough on its own to sway buyers, but the new engines and excellent driving manners will surely seal the deal.
And with a range of PCP deals on offer, owning a car with the three-pointed star has never been more affordable. Impress the neighbours, buy a Merc, A-Class act if ever I saw one!
Fourth generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class now on sale
Three trims: SE, Sport and AMG Line
Three engines: A 180 d, A 200 and A 250
Seven-speed automatic gearbox
Manual gearbox and more engines to come
Prices start at £25,800
PCP Deals from £299 per month (APR 5.9%)
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The Cotswolds – A-Class Location For The Launch A New Small Mercedes, 10th June 2018, 10:33 AM