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Mercedes A-Class: One of the most stunning hatchbacks

August 09, 2013 14:57 IST

Mercedes A-Class: One of the most stunning hatchbacks

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When you talk about Mercedes-Benz, the car, which usually comes to your mind, is either the S-Class or the E-Class.

Seldom you associate Mercedes cars with affordability, after all the company is known for producing state of the art automobiles, which are filled with future technology.

In these times of small being big, the German automaker has made a brave move of launching the A-Class in India.

This is not the first generation of the A-Class, in fact it's the third iteration of Mercedes' entry-level vehicle.

This hatchback is extremely different from its predecessors and takes an all-new path in terms of design and technology. So how good is the baby Benz?

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Mercedes A-Class: One of the most stunning hatchbacks

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When you look at the A-Class, you are captivated by its stunning design. The A-Class might be the cheapest Mercedes in the company's line-up but it no way feels that way.

In fact, just by looking at the A-Class, you might feel it's a much more expensive vehicle. The styling is very youth centric, thereby targeting an entirely different genre of buyers.

At the front, you simply can't take your eyes off from the 302 pin diamond grille. The aggressive headlights and swooping side body lines look purposeful.

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Mercedes A-Class: One of the most stunning hatchbacks

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The A-Class might be a hatchback but it measures almost 4.3 metres in length and the side profile makes it evident that this is a premium hatchback with generous exterior dimensions.

The stance at the rear is very eye catchy with the twin exhausts clearly visible. The rear tail lights get the LED treatment and a rear spoiler is neatly integrated.

Thus the designers at Stuttgart get full marks for the styling of the A-Class which is inspired from the F800 Concept.

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Mercedes A-Class: One of the most stunning hatchbacks

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Step inside and the attractive cabin of the A-Class is immediately apparent. The all black interiors look sporty and there is little to tell this is a hatchback because Mercedes hasn't compromised on features.

The A-Class gets Attention Assist, Brake Assist, Rear Parking Sensors, Reverse Parking Camera, ESP, Start/Stop system, Bi-Xenon headlights, Hill Start Assist, memory seat for the driver, adaptive brake lights, seven airbags, panoramic sunroof, etc.

The A-Class is offered in two trims, the A180 Sport (petrol) and A180 Style (Diesel). Some of the features aren't present in the diesel model as it's offered in a lower trim, which is disappointing, although the diesel A-Class is cheaper than the petrol variant.

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Mercedes A-Class: One of the most stunning hatchbacks

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The front seats get a bucket like frame with integrated headrests. The rear seats have decent legroom but are clearly not the place to be in. If you want to be chauffeur-driven, the A-Class is not the car for you.

The rear headrests are not adjustable (only the centre one is) and the large integrated headrests at the front limits visibility from the rear seat.

The windows are quite small too and can make you claustrophobic over a long distance. The hump in the centre means a fifth passenger can't sit in.

Under thigh support is below average for tall occupants. The boot is a decent 341-litres big but the placement of the spare wheel hampers usability.

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The A-Class is offered with two engine options. Both are called A180 although none of the engines displace 1.8-litres in capacity.

The petrol engine in the A-Class is a 1.6-litre unit which produces 122 HP of power at 5000 RPM and 200 Nm of torque between 1250-4000 RPM.

This petrol motor enables the A-Class to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint in 9.2 seconds, while the top speed is 202 km/hr.

The A180 is very refined and doesn't make any noise, till around 4500 RPM, after which the roar from the mill becomes a bit audible. This motor has negligible lag at low speeds and the mid-range is quite strong.

The A-Class is short geared and redlines quite early at 6200 RPM. One can expect a mileage of 9-10 km/l from the A petrol.

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Mercedes-Benz has made a smart move by launching the diesel variant of the A-Class right from the onset.

The A180 CDI uses a 2.2-litre engine from the C-Class but gets heavily de-tuned producing 107 HP of power between 3200-4400 RPM and 250 Nm of torque between 1400-2800 RPM.

Now this engine is quite heavy and performance is far from shattering. This oil burner has a strong mid-range and performance is linear.

Even though there is a hint of turbolag at low speeds, drivability in the city is pretty good. 0-100 km/hr takes 10.6 seconds, while the top speed is 190 km/hr.

On the highways, you really have to floor the pedal to extract the best out of this diesel mill. Expect a real world mileage of 13-14 km/l from the A180 CDI.

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Both the petrol and diesel engines are mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox. There are three modes E, S and M with steering mounted paddle shifts.

In Economy mode, the transmission shifts up quickly to return good mileage, in S mode, it becomes more eager while in M mode, you can take control of things using the paddles. NVH levels in both cars is excellent.

The company has given the A-Class 225/45/17 tyres which do look good but the low profile rubber does affect the ride quality which can get very uncomfortable on bad roads.

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The A-Class is underpinned by Mercedes-Benz' MFA platform. The front-wheel drive layout helps in weight saving and the lower power output along with electronic systems ensure there is no torque steer or wheel spins.

Handling is very good and the A-Class is a car you will enjoy pushing around corners.

The steering is well weighed too although it does lack that precise feel at high speeds and doesn't feel direct enough. High-speed stability is excellent and so are the brakes with ample stopping power on offer.

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The Mercedes A-Class is brought in via the CBU route but is still priced quite aggressively. The diesel A-Class is priced at Rs. 28.21 lakhs while the petrol A-Class is priced at Rs. 29.25 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai).

Sure this is still an expensive car but when you factor in the stunning design, well laid out interiors, sharp handling, frugal engines and long features list, you understand why the A-Class has managed to rake in so many bookings so quickly.

The engines could offer more power and the ride could be better (considering our road conditions) but if you want a premium car where you will take to the driver's seat very often, there is little to fault with the A-Class.




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