I’ll start things off by saying the previous generation Mercedes-Benz A-class was a horrible vehicle. Despite its numerous shortcomings, it sold surprisingly well and next time you see one at a shopping centre parking lot, you’ll see why. It may have a poor drive, but there’s no denying it was an exceptionally practical vehicle which also happened to be easy to get into, thanks to its MPV shape. The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a different vehicle altogether.
However, the market has moved on and the Volkswagen Golf 7, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and to some extent, the Volvo V40 rule the C-segment. Naturally Mercedes-Benz didn’t want to be left behind and created the all-new A-Class. Your eyes are not deceiving you. It’s a seriously smart-looking vehicle and totally radical when compared to its predecessor.
New Mercedes-Benz A-Class review by David TaylorEye-catching and refreshing new design
The new Mercedes-Benz A-class loses its ‘mommy wagon’ looks and now resembles a fun and sporty hatchback. In terms of design, the new A-class is a revolution and everywhere I went, heads turned. With its sporty wheels, daytime running lights and neatly proportioned exterior, one could easily assume I was in a performance hatchback, but this is just the baby of the range. I could easily go on and on about how great this car looks as it’s just so different from anything else in the Mercedes-Benz range.
Functional and classy interior
Once sitting in the driver’s seat, you’re greeted with the upmarket Mercedes-Benz dashboard. Even though I’m in the bottom of the range A180 BE, it still feels like you’re in a premium product. As with all German cars, there are multiple option boxes to be ticked. This particular A-class came with comfortable cloth sports seats. There are some sporty touches to the cabin such as the dials which look they've been taken straight from the SLS supercar as well as the blade-style trio of air vents in the middle of the dashboard.
All in all, the interior of the new Mercedes-Benz A-class is a great place to be as it feels surprisingly spacious. The glass panoramic roof helps exaggerate this feeling, while the boot has plenty of space for luggage. There’s no gear stick to be found where you’d expect, with the drive selector instead mounted to the steering wheel. There’s a screen mounted to the dashboard which looks like a tablet and that’s controlled by a dial selector mounted between the seats. The Mercedes-Benz COMAND infotainment system also includes a very smart satellite navigation device which is linked to the reverse camera and my iPod connected to the Harmon Kardon audio through USB. It also has safety features in abundance.
Small, efficient engine.
I was in the A180 Blue Efficiency, which is the baby of the range and it comes with a 1.6-litre turbo four cylinder engine. It has 90kW and 200Nm which is impressive considering the small size of the motor. There’s no shortage of speed and power which drives through the front wheels using Mercedes’ 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox. You can opt for a manual six-speed ‘box if autos aren't your thing. I liked this gearbox as it made for gentle cruising with the added bonus of good fuel economy. Mercedes-Benz claims 5.4L/100km, but I couldn’t get lower than 6L/100km. There are paddles behind the steering wheel if you wish to be involved with the gear changes.
Ride and handling
Even though the A-class I evaluated was nowhere near considered a hot hatch, there were times when I put the car’s gearbox in sport mode and drove enthusiastically on twisty roads. It is good fun to drive and the chassis is firm and sporty. The vehicle rode on 16-inch tyres which offered a comfortable ride. I was most impressed with the car’s refinement especially on the open road. It’s good to see characteristics from the bigger Mercedes-Benz models filtering down to the new A-class.
New Mercedes-Benz A-Class - ConclusionThis is a fantastic offering from the German car manufacturer. For far too long many have said Mercedes-Benz make boring cars for old men and if there’s one car which will shatter that notion, it’s this new A-class. For the first time in ages, there’s a Mercedes vehicle which offers head-turning good looks, luxury interior finishes and is really affordable for the common man. When last did you lust over a non-AMG Mercedes?
Pricing starts from just R275 000, which is mind-blowingly cheap for what you’re getting. As always, when buying any German vehicle choose your options wisely. Don’t be disheartened by the options list though, you’re still getting a decent car which is well-kitted. If you wish to add extras, I recommend going for the COMAND package, Active Park assist, reverse camera and Media Interface.
New Mercedes-Benz A-Class - PriceMercedes Benz A180 BE - From R275 257
- Why you should: Beautiful to look at, lovely to drive, brimming with smart technology, comfortable and affordable.
- Why you shouldn’t: Nothing majorly wrong with this vehicle.
- It would be better if: Don’t change anything. This is an exceptional vehicle.
- View the car: New Mercedes-Benz A-Class / Used Mercedes-Benz A-Class
- Competitors worth checking out: BMW 1-Series, Audi A3, Volvo V40, Volkwagen Golf 7.