2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review and First Drive

by under Review on 01 Mar 2013 01:27:27 PM01 Mar 2013
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Stunning looks inside and out; brilliant drivelines; great value; superb driving dynamics


Surprising satellite navigation remains on the options list

The 2013 Mercedes A-Class has changed the game for Volkswagen Golf, BMW 1 Series hatchback and Audi A3.

Priced from $35,600 – no typo there, a perfect ‘3’ and a perfect ‘5’ - the all-new A-Class may prove to be this decade’s most significant ‘Benz. And that’s significant for a company with a history of significant, game-changing vehicles. 


Let’s be ‘crystal’ here – the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is without doubt the best premium European hatchback. That’s good news for the 1,000 fast-thinkers who’ve ordered before this week’s Australian A-Class launch .

But it gets better. You know that ‘Old Chestnut’ about European cars being expensive to service. In the case of the all-new Mercedes-Benz A’-Class – bin it!

How does $1383 total, fixed regular service costs for the first 50,000kms sound?. Again no typo there – a perfect ‘1’ and a perfect ‘3’.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Overview

‘Benz has launched the all-new A-Class with a four-model lineup: A180 and A200 with 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines, the A 200 CDI with 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and the sporty AMG-developed A 250 Sport with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

Specifications step-up with models – the two ‘200’-badged models gaining 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats with diamond pattern trim, some interior leather and a leather-wrapped steering wheel amongst their extras. 


And the Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport is a cracker with 18-inch AMG alloys, AMG aero bodykit, AMG-tweaked engine, suspension, brakes and transmission, leather sports seats, carbon-fibre look interior trim, ‘designo red’ seat belts and more.

Here’s the lineup:

A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY $35,600
A 200 Blue EFFICIENCY $40,900
A 200 CDI Blue EFFICIENCY $40,900
A250 Sport $49,900

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Engine

Mercedes-Benz A-Class enjoys an all-turbocharged engine lineup with three from the fuel-sipping BlueEFFICIENCY family. All feature auto start-stop as standard.

A180 and A 200 employ a new 1.6-litre petrol engine with 90kW at 5000rpm /200Nm from 1250rpm for the A 180 and 115kW at 5000rpm /250Nm from 1250rpm for the A 200. Fuel consumption is impressive with the A 180 rated at 5.8l/100kms and the A 200 at 6.1l/100kms. 


For the 1.8-litre turbo-diesel A 200 CDI you can chalk-up 100kW at 3600rpm /300Nm from 1600rpm and fuel consumption of 4.6l/100kms.

All drive the front wheels via Benz’ 7G-DCT seven-speed automatic transmission.

The A 250 Sport features engine and transmission tweaks from Mercedes’ performance arm AMG. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine delivers 155kW/350Nm and fuel consumption of 6.6l/100kms. A couple of quick comparos: BMW 125i (turbocharged 2.0-litre) provides 160kW/310Nm while the Volkswagen Golf GTI (also a turbocharged 2.0) delivers 155kW/280Nm.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class The Interior

‘Stunning’ is an apt way to describe the A-Class’ interior. It’s all-new for Mercedes with sporty seats featuring integrated head-rests, glorious materials in cloth and leather and the hallmark Benz quality detailing and finishes. 


And upscale/high-tech – as you would expect. Even the entry-level A 180 runs ARTICO man-made leather and clever ambient lighting in the trim, seat head restraints, footwells, door handles and tailgate.

The 200 models step-up with diamond pattern trim, electropneumatic lumbar support, ARTICO leather door trims and silver/red instruments.

The A 250 Sport features carbon-fibre look trim, red surrounds for the five circular air-vents, red seat belts, a nappa leather steering wheel and aluminium pedals.

The dashboard and instruments are the usual ‘Benz top-notch affair, the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach and the 6-disc audio system features a free-standing 14.7cm colour screen (doubles for the standard reversing camera image) with stylish piano black surrounds. 


Accommodation for three passengers in the 60:40 split-fold rear seat is on par with others in this segment.

Access to the cargo area is easy thanks to the low-opening tailgate and the volume is 341-litres (rear seat in-place) or 1157-litres (rear seat folded).

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Exterior & Styling

The all-new A-Class carves a radical new design direction for Mercedes Benz which is sophisticated and sporty. Even the entry-level A 180 exudes style with its elegant front-end and complex side view with both curved and straight lines affording dynamic sculpturing.

Naturally aerodynamics were a focus and the Cd of 0.27 is impressive. ‘Benz says a Cd improvement of one hundredth drops fuel consumption of one tenth of litre per 100kms when driving at 120km/h…hence the efforts in the design studio and wind-tunnel.

So, for example, there’s an aero underbody, adjustable radiator louvers which stay closed unless needed for cooling and small fins near the rear window. 


And the all-new A-Class has jettisoned the ‘tall-boy’ look of its predecessor – it’s 160mm lower, wide and sporty. Measurements are 4292mm long, 1780mm wide and 1433mm high.

The bonnet is quite long and the V-shaped front grille is piercing with an angled new look for the hallmark Mercedes shape – highlighted by nicely styled louvers with colours to match the body and contemporary headlights and LED DRLs.

From the side, the silhouette is smooth and flowing with an arched roof and clever rear spoiler which encloses the aerials very neatly.

At the rear is a curved, horizontal, wide look which gives the A-Class a sporty presence. Modern tail-lights adopt an aerodynamic shape.

Our A 200 CDI was jaw-droppingly appealing painted in ‘South Seas Blue Metallic’ and running the AMG Sport package with 18-inch high-gloss black multi-spoke alloy wheels.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class On The Road

Car Showroom spent a day sampling the various Mercedes-Benz A-Class models over the twists and curves surrounding Healesville and Victoria’s Yarra Valley. This was particularly handy when we drove the A 250 Sport with its AMG-tuned suspension and driveline(honed by testing at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany).

Of course the A-Class runs a massive array of Mercedes safety technology and driver aids including Pre Safe and the radar-based collision prevention assist system and the ingenious self-parking system. 


There’s a new four-link rear end and wheel carriers and spring link made from aluminium.

With the roads damp from overnight rain and littered with debris, the A 250 Sport in ‘S’ mode was sublime – snappy gear changes, abundant power and brilliant dynamics. In fact we can’t think of any comparable car (front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive) which would have been quicker or more precise in the conditions.

Sure in that mode the suspension was decidedly firm (as it should be) but shift to the other settings and even the sports version of the A-Class is a comfortable everyday cruiser.

Coming back to town we swapped to the A 200 CDI diesel (with the $1490 optional AMG Sport Package). Typically ‘Benz in its refinement, the diesel A-Class impressed with its acceleration in both low and mid ranges.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Challenges

Satellite navigation isn’t standard although the $1,190 optional Becker Map Pilot system is one of the best and offers a ‘News’ app to keep you up-to-date while on the road.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Verdict

This is the one – the best premium European hatchback by a long way. ‘Benz though long and hard about the all-new A-Class, steered its ‘MO’ in a different direction to its predecessor, and has delivered a stunner. 


Pricing is outstanding value for money and you can add to you’re A-Class with a choice of seven option packages (our favourite is the AMG Sport Package) – none of them more than $3,000.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class The Competition

Comparisons to the current Audi A3 are unfair as the all-new model is due locally within weeks.

BMW’s 1 Series hatchback appeals to performance drivers with its rear-drive chassis. However there’s no denying the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class trumps the Beemer for looks and value. Oh, and the all-new 1 Series is a front-driver.

Volkswagen’s all-new Golf 7 is imminent and has received rave reviews in Europe. Locally most Golf volume is in models stickered north of $35,000 so the newcomer will need to be good to match the A-Class.

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