The A-Class has been part of the Mercedes Family for a number of years and has evolved into an upmarket city vehicle.
The “city car” is the latest buzz from car manufacturers. When you think of a city car, usually you visualise a small cramped car that goes for kilometres on a sip of fuel. Well, the A-Class is a city car, but with a difference. It is a very spacious motor vehicle that retains the minute fuel consumption. I had the diesel variant, which according to Mercedes Benz requires only 5.8l/100km of diesel. I averaged 7.2l/100km, which I thought was pretty impressive for the overall driving style that included flat out acceleration.
The latest version of the A-Class has been given a sleeker and classier look than its predecessor while retaining the overall city car dimensions. The interior is very adaptable with its 60:40 folding rear seats. Loading goods is made easy thanks to the low opening boot. The driving position is good with excellent all round visibility. All controls are easy to use and are made of the highest quality.
It has a long wheelbase with shorter overhangs, which makes it perfect for squeezing into tight parking bays. Those of you like my wife, who prefer not to Parallel Park, the A-Class now has Parktronic as an optional extra. The Parktronic system enables the car to park itself with a minimal driver interaction. That’s right, as unbelievable as that reads, superior technology enables the car to Parallel Park itself. All that the driver has to do is, to drive slowly past an open parking bay, activate the auto park by indicating the direction of the bay, and then engage the reverse gear. Before you know it the vehicle will be safely parked with no worry of bumping other cars or, even worse, straining your neck. This car has been designed for the lady in mind, with its high roof line easy access and all light steering, it’s definitely one vehicle the ladies will love. All you boy racers out there, unfortunately this is not the car for you.
The diesel version has a powerful 1.8 diesel motor that delivers 80kw and 250Nm torque, but the engine feels like it has been restrained from pulling any “G forces”. This is due to the automatic gearbox, which keeps the revs high on flat-out acceleration while the gears change in the background. In diesel form, this is not ideal as most of the torque is available in the lower rev range.
On the road the car has very good manners, point it in the direction you want to go, and the car never fails. To my surprise the car feels solid and composed at normal driving speeds. If you are a bit of a speedster like me, unfortunately this car does not corner like it is on rails. The A-Class has got a very smooth and comfortable ride in keeping with the Mercedes Benz tradition.
The vehicle I test drove was loaded with extras, namely Panoramic glass roof, a Navigation with DVD player and Bluetooth telephone, removable towbar, autotronic gearbox and of course the parktronic system. All together this added approximately R50,000 to the price. All this does not come at a small price, as the diesel A-Class starts at R253, 000, but then again you get what you pay for and quality does not come cheap.
Overall I believe that this is a wonderful car that has been very well built for the purpose it was designed. If I was looking for a comfortable city car that could do the odd long distance trip, and one that would stand the test of time, this would be at the top of my list.
The A-Class was supplied courtesy of Mercedes Benz South Africa.
Azim Omar CA(SA) is the Project Director: Small Practices, SAICA.