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Mercedes A-Class India review, test drive and video

With the race for the top spot among luxury carmakers heating up, Mercedes-Benz is switching strategy in India. Much like rivals Audi and BMW, the company is lowering the price point at which you can own a three-pointed star. To this end, it is about to launch its most affordable model

Mercedes has launched its second model off the MFA platform, the A-class. But can a hatchback be good enough to wear the three-pointed star?

With the race for the top spot among luxury carmakers heating up, Mercedes-Benz is switching strategy in India.

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Much like rivals Audi and BMW, the company is lowering the price point at which you can own a three-pointed star. To this end, it is about to launch its most affordable model, the A-class, at an estimated price of 20-23 lakh. And most significantly, the driver-focussed A 180 marks a change in Merc's traditional approach - targeting the self-driven rather than the chauffeur-driven luxury car buyer.

What's more, the company will have the first-mover advantage in this segment, as rival BMW's luxury hatchback, the 1-series, is expected here only later this year. The biggest hurdle in Mercedes' path, however, is that Indians generally associate luxury cars with saloons, and more recently, SUVs. So the A-class's success here hinges on more car buyers starting to accept premium hatchbacks as luxury offerings.

The rest of the cabin is just as plush as an E-class, but feels far more modern. The SLS AMG-style triple air-con vents, the free-standing screen for the COMAND interface, the sculpted steering wheel and the chequered-design dials add to the youthful flair. The single-piece front seats are superbly snug, and the knobs, switches and stalks work precisely. The pedals are slightly offset, but this is made up for by the fantastic driving position. However, the steeply-raked windscreen and the small rear window compromise visibility, which is bothersome in traffic and when parking. Although Mercedes has skipped on electric steering adjustment and even a powered front passenger seat, there’s still plenty of kit; our test car had Bluetooth connectivity, seven airbags, ESP, Bi-Xenon headlamps and USB connectivity. Even the massive panoramic sunroof comes as standard. The boot, with its 341-litre capacity, is big by hatchback standards, but for the Indian variant, the space-saver spare tyre sits inside (rather than beneath) the boot, eating into luggage space. The one complaint we have about this particular A-class is that the engine lacks sufficient grunt. Considering the A 180’s 1,375kg kerb weight, the 1,595cc, four-cylinder turbo-petrol motor’s 122bhp and 20.4kgm figures are rather modest. However, it is quiet at idle and, at cruising speeds, has a reasonable amount of punch in its mid-range.
The rest of the cabin is just as plush as an E-class, but feels far more modern. The SLS AMG-style triple air-con vents, the free-standing screen for the COMAND interface, the sculpted steering wheel and the chequered-design dials add to the youthful flair. The single-piece front seats are superbly snug, and the knobs, switches and stalks work precisely. The pedals are slightly offset, but this is made up for by the fantastic driving position. However, the steeply-raked windscreen and the small rear window compromise visibility, which is bothersome in traffic and when parking. Although Mercedes has skipped on electric steering adjustment and even a powered front passenger seat, there’s still plenty of kit; our test car had Bluetooth connectivity, seven airbags, ESP, Bi-Xenon headlamps and USB connectivity. Even the massive panoramic sunroof comes as standard. The boot, with its 341-litre capacity, is big by hatchback standards, but for the Indian variant, the space-saver spare tyre sits inside (rather than beneath) the boot, eating into luggage space. The one complaint we have about this particular A-class is that the engine lacks sufficient grunt. Considering the A 180’s 1,375kg kerb weight, the 1,595cc, four-cylinder turbo-petrol motor’s 122bhp and 20.4kgm figures are rather modest. However, it is quiet at idle and, at cruising speeds, has a reasonable amount of punch in its mid-range.

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*

Ex-showroom price 20-23 lakh (est-ex-showroom, Delhi)

Engine

Fuel Petrol

Installation Front, transverse

Type 4cyls, 1595cc direct-injection turbo-petrol

Bore/stroke 83.0/73.7mm

Power 122bhp at 5000rpm

Torque 20.39kgm at 1250-4000rpm

Power to weight 88.72bhp per tonne

Transmission

Type Front-wheel drive

Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch, automatic

Dimensions

Length 4292mm

Width 1780mm

Height 1433mm

Wheel base 2699mm

Chassis & Body

Construction Five-door, monocoque, hatchback

Weight 1375kg

Tyres 225/45R17

Spare Space Saver

Suspension

Front Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs

Rear Independent, coil springs

Steering

Type Rack and Pinion

Type of power assist Electric

Brakes

Front Ventilated discs

Rear Discs

Anti-lock Yes

Performance

0-60 4.30 sec

0-100 9.76sec

Economy

Tank size 50-litres

  • First Published Date : 29 May 2013, 01:30 PM IST