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Mercedes-Benz A-Class | Video Review | CarsIreland.ie

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class brings some serious big car kit to the premium small hatch market

“The Mercedes-Benz A-Class brings some serious big car kit to the premium small hatch market”

  • Beautiful design inside and out

  • Refined and enjoyable to drive

  • Class-leading new technology on board

79%

Overall Rating

  • Premium price tag

  • Voice control is hit and miss

  • A couple of patchy areas of quality that don’t befit the premium image

Overall Rating

Overview

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class first arrived in 1997, with a design that could be most kindly described as ‘unusual’. Fast forward a couple of decades and the compact hatch has evolved in to one of the most stylish and desirable models in its segment.

This latest model features the kind of cutting edge technology that hasn’t been seen in this segment before, which along with its untouchable badge appeal, makes it a very tempting little package.

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Interior Gallery

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Space & Practicality

There’s more room in the back of the new A-Class than there was in the previous model, and it feels pretty average for the class. There’s a decent bit of leg room, with the exception of the middle seat, but overall it’s not bad. It’s very nicely finished with lots of plush materials, as well as some thoughtful touches like magazine holders and USB charge points. In an effort to future-proof, they have decided to make them Mini USB ports which means most of us will still need to use an adapter for the time being, but it shouldn’t be an issue going forward as their use becomes more widespread.

Bootspace has also improved. It now measures in at 370 litres which again, is about average for a family hatch. It’s got a nice wide opening and all three seats fold individually, making it perfect for carrying longer items without disturbing your outer two passengers.

The interior in general is very impressive. It’s got a really premium feel, and an interesting mix of top-quality materials make it one of the strongest standout features of the car as a whole.

Space and comfort are two more strong points, and the range of adjustment in the seating position is great. It’s very easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and there are plenty of handy storage areas around the cabin to stash your bits and bobs. There are a couple of areas of questionable quality as you move further away from areas of regular contact – the doorbins for example are unlined, but overall it’s one of the finest cabins on the market.

Equipment and Safety

The big news with the new A-Class is the striking new infotainment set up of dual panoramic glass screens which stretch across the dash to house both the instrument cluster and the impressive new MBUX infotainment system. It looks great and can be controlled in a variety of ways including touch control, or a very slick central controller which can be operated with the slightest swipe of a finger. It also comes equipped with voice control. In a similar way to SIRI, Bixby and Alexa, you can instigate a command by saying ‘Hey Mercedes’ and request a series of different functions including temperature control and music choice. We had a few issues with this system which you will see in the video above but Mercedes tell us it is a self-learning system that gradually gets to recognise your voice and accent better the more you use it.

Language barriers aside,  the other controls work very well – especially the sharp and responsive touch pad in the centre, and some extra mini touchpads on the steering wheel add a real touch of class while station-surfing on the move. The multimedia graphics are now nothing short of excellent, and a massive improvement on previous efforts from the brand. If this is a sign of things to come for Mercedes then the future looks very bright indeed.

Standard features include a leather steering wheel, heated seats and a reversing camera, and surprisingly enough the dual screen set up is a standard feature on the entry level model which is quite impressive considering the Audi A3’s virtual Cockpit is an optional extra even on the S-Line. However they are smaller on standard model and divided down the middle so you don’t get that nice panoramic effect.

If you want that wow factor, you’ll have to upgrade to the Progressive which ups the style stakes with a distinctive grille, LED headlights, larger 17 inch alloys and a leather interior. Or once again to the AMG line model which adds very significant styling upgrades including a sporty AMG line body kit, 18 inch alloy wheels and sports seats.

Performance & Running Costs

Engine choice at the moment is limited to a 1.5l diesel or a 1.3l petrol available in varying power outputs from 109 all the way up to 163bhp which was what was under the hood of the nippy little A200 model we had on test. It’s quite a lot of power for such a small unit and it delivers it really nicely. They’re all mated to a 7 speed automatic gearbox, (the manuals aren’t due to arrive until next year) and the power uptake is silky smooth with perfect shifting for a really nice effortless feel.

The sporty, pleasant handling makes it good fun to drive, and while it’s no hot hatch there is plenty of power available whenever you want it. There’s a nice lightness to the steering and to the car in general that makes it feel very agile, quick off the mark at the lights, but also nice and relaxing if you just want to switch off on a long motorway drive. It’s also got all the creature comforts to help you do so like cruise control and Active Lane Keep Assist. The suspension feels well judged and manages to smooth over any rough surfaces without any drama in the cabin. It’s a car that feels well suited to most situations and for what it is, it’s very hard to fault the A-Class on the road.

Reliability & Residuals

The stunning looks combined with an untouchable badge appeal make the baby Benz one of the most desirable models in its class.

It doesn’t come cheap with a starting price of €32,000 that can creep up past the €40,000 mark very easily once you start to spec it up. That’s a large chunk of change for a hatchback no doubt, but if you want the very best that this segment has to offer, the A-Class does deliver in almost every area.

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Details correct at time of publication
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2018-11-06T16:41:13+00:00

About the Author:

Sinéad is our resident car tester who has the unenviable (-ok, slightly enviable) task of reviewing all the latest new cars to hit the market. You can follow her on Twitter @smcani and on Instagram @whatshedrives