MERCEDES is about to shake up the market with its new A-Class. It is lower, longer, wider and you may think sexier. And 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 is carries the BlueEFFICIENCY name and stop-start ignition.
There are three petrol engines and three diesels at launch, all of them turbo-charged 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 only) 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 by AMG” models (A250 and the A220 CDI) bring AMG suspension, 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.
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 this is cool to the touch. There is an electric parking brake – though its control is rather lost under the fascia and only auto-releasing with automatic gears. Interior options include leather, or Artico as a cheaper, very convincing vegetarian 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 metallic action on the tailgate release latch and a tremor in the panel when you close it again let the image down. The rear seats fold to make a flat floor without the need to remove headrests. Under the false floor is the tyre repair kit and an electric inflator.
Verdict: Take the A-Class.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South