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MOTORING SPECIAL 2013: Mercedes Benz A180

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“The new A Class will have most youngsters’ hearts pumping at the sight of the sport-pack version.”

Mercedes have finally launched the new-look A class. The concept vehicle was first released about four years ago and took the world by storm. It has smooth lines and a large grille and two doors, all with a silver aluminium look.

Then Mercedes, like all other manufacturers, launched their final product that is not exactly what they showed us in prototype guise. That being said, the new A Class is definitely a good-looking car. Gone is the mum’s taxi look with its high roof and squared off-end. The new car enters one of the most hotly contested segments of the motoring industry, the hot hatch segment.

On the outside you will not realise that this A Class is actually a new version, as it looks totally different. The new front end that is evident on all new Mercedes Benz includes the large slotted grill that comes to a point in the centre where the three-pointed star is mounted. The rear end has a stubby boot that is typical of hatchbacks.

Inside, from the driver’s seat the dashboard looks sporty and modern. The one part I did not like was the infotainment system screen, as it looks like it was mounted to the dashboard as an afterthought. The sport-pack comes with sporty seats and a three-spoke steering wheel that looks sporty but unfortunately had a bit of a wooden feel to it in that there was not much feedback. There is ample room in the front and the overall feel is solid. The rear seats, on the other hand, are not as comfortable due to their limited leg-room and almost upright backrests. Rear-seat passengers will require additional pit stops just to stretch out their cramping muscles on long trips.

This being a front-wheel drive, it is very different to its bigger siblings and most Mercedes drivers will find the drive a tad choppy, especially on full-out acceleration. This is due to the anti-skid ABS trying to limit wheel spin while the engine is trying to push as hard as it can. My advice – don’t accelerate hard. On the road the car is well poised and comfortable up front. There is a fair amount of grip and one can have some fun on the corners.

In the end I think Mercedes have managed to achieve what they wanted, that is, to appeal to the younger generation. The new A Class will have most youngsters’ hearts pumping at the sight of the sport-pack version. The one challenge that remains is the pricing, as this vehicle out-prices almost all its A class competitors. The vehicle is selling fast and I personally cannot wait to test the absolutely crazy A45 AMG that was launched at the time of writing this article. 

Car courtesy of Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of SAGMJ.