Mercedes-Benz A-Class

3 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

(September 2001)

A mid-life facelift for the Mercedes-Benz A-class conservatively enhances design and safety, in ways you’ll appreciate but are unlikely to notice

The Mercedes-Benz A-class has been something of a quiet achiever since its launch in Australia in 1998. After much negative press surrounding vehicle stability flaws before launch, the A-class has quietly gone about its business, selling around 60 per month. That’s around 7 percent of Mercedes’ Australian volume.

In recent months A-class sales have slowed, but help’s on the way in the form of a facelift and body tuck. Most of the attention has been focused on the front end, particularly around the grille, headlamps and bumper bar.

New transparent lens covers, an extended air intake in the lower bumper, and integrated replaceable rub strips are the major giveaways, while Mercedes-Benz fanatics will instantly pick the extra black fin in the grill, raising the crossbar count to four.

The new rub strips continue along the A-class flanks, which also feature body coloured door handles and redesigned alloy wheels. The rear bumper has been changed in a similar fashion to the front, which, in total, increases the overall length of the A-class hatch to 3.6metres, 31mm longer than before.

Safety has also come in for attention, particularly where it concerns acronyms. The ESP, or Electronic Stability Program, has been updated, allowing Mercedes-Benz to fit hydraulic Brake Assist to the A-class for the first time.What does this mean to you and I? Shorter emergency stopping distances. The car’s computer senses a panic stop and deploys the brakes to their maximum ability.

Mercedes-Benz has re-jigged the A-class lineup, now offering the A160 Classic and Elegance in both manual and automatic form, and the A190 Elegance bringing the total A-class model count to 6.We road tested the A190 Elegance for a week with its 1.9 litre, 92kiloWatt four cylinder engine and clutchless five-speed manual gearbox.

Not exactly an abundance of power, the A190 nevertheless has engine enough for most prospective buyers. Seamless in its power delivery, the 1.9 litre double-cam four is most happy when it’s being short shifted around 4500-5000rpm. While the auto-clutch can take some getting used too, the system is hard to fault.

After just a weekend of solid driving, changing gears without use of the left foot soon became second nature.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

It’ll do more than just keep up with city traffic, once a head of steam has been built up. Taking off from standstill can be a little sluggish as the transmission falters slightly early on. Once underway, performance is good right throughout the rev range.

Power is delivered smoothly and quietly, particularly after gear changes where the car springs forward with notable enthusiasm.

The A-class is prone to tall car syndrome in corners, swaying and lurching a little under pressure. This is probably a result of having such a tall body on a relatively small footprint. After we got used to the A-class’ heady ways we ceased to notice it.

The A-class’ strength is definitely more evident around town, where its high seating position gives you good vision, and its compact dimensions allow for easy manoeuvring through traffic.

Ride quality is generally good, the suspension taking most uneven surfaces in its stride. While the A190 could not be considered a sports car, cornering the A190 provides a pleasant sense of security, in spite of the high ride position.

The A-class struggles on country roads, where the temptation to up the pace can overwhelm better judgement. Don’t be fooled by the alloy wheels, low profile tyres, and sporty dress-up kit, this is definitely a compact luxury car for the city. And quite a good one at that, especially given Mercedes-Benz’s strong track record of building safe, sturdy vehicles with strong resale values.

Published. Saturday, 1 September 2001

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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