NEW MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS LAUNCHED IN MZANSI

By Wezile Bonani – Lorenzio Productions

 

The brand new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, launched in Cape Town, Mzansi. PIC: Wezile Bonani – Lorenzio Productions

In order to find a successful cunctation you may need to have a benchmark to work towards. In the case of the 4th generation A-Class, it has to be the number 620 000, that’s the amount of compact sized units sold just in 2017 as reported by Johannes Fritz (Mercedes-Benz SA co-CEO). So what does the newcomer offer? Launched in wet and cold Cape Town’s new artistic development the Silo District close to the Waterfront, we were stationed at the funky Radisson Red. The rain did not deter what was to be a fun drive in the wet.

The looks, the lower yet impressive front end, are enhanced by several vital performance factors, opening and closing gills for better air flow, making it more aerodynamic and adding to improved drag efficiency.  The front bumper is one solid-looking piece housing the 3-pointed star grille, middle and side vents, and daytime LED headlights. The bonnet is crease-free with mild lines, front fenders and side profile enhanced by wheels and mirror detail. The rear is where it is least likely to impress, as it is similar to most on road players. I highly recommend you specify yours with AMG Line and with cool alloys and a bright colour to stand out for the exterior.

The interior is where this car impressed me the most. Seats are partially similar to CLA and previous generation A-Class, nothing wrong with them really. The rear seats now boast some accessibility points for loading through the boot, the singular form seat and headrest combination I have always quite liked, not the most comfortable though as some of us like to adjust our headrest. I quite loved the detail on the seats and dash which was colour-coded to body colour of our unit .The dash and centre console is what this party is about; a multi-function steering wheel from the S-Class and tech from the E-Class. The new A-Class boasts an impressive array of user friendly tech accessed via the tablet-looking cluster and infotainment screen. These run across almost half the dashboard. Lest we forget the aviation-inspired high gloss polished air vents. A magnificent combination.

The highlight has to be “Mercedes Me” which allows one to configure car’s settings for up to 8 different driver styles. And it now has voice-activated command (activated by the words “Hey Mercedes”), which will include our traditional lingo soon. The interior benefits from a degree of increase in terms of space from its predecessor. The gear lever, indicator /wiper stalk, and air conditioning controls felt out of place with their cheap feeling plastics in a great looking cabin. Overall it is good liking car which proves less is more.

At the launch only two derivatives were available; the A 200 powered by a 1.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo unit making 120kW of power and a decent 250Nm of torque mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, as well as the current range topper in the form of a 2.0-litre turbo A 250 (165kW, 350Nm). No model will be offered with a manual gearbox anymore. Mercedes-Benz says the A 200 averages 5.2 litres per 100km in fuel, while the A 250 achieves 6.2 litres per 100km.

When people say 1.3-litre, we tend to cringe. However it is 2018 and we have seen smaller capacity engines doing stunning miracles. The A 200 is no different. Listen, it won’t win robot-to-robot races, but it gets on with the job with an impressive amount of zest and dedication. The engine feels muted until revs tip over 4 500rpm. Momentum is swift and reassured by the quick changes from the gearbox. The A 200 handles pretty well, despite a standard suspension compared to the A 250’s multi-link set up. We did not sample the A 250 as few models were available at the launch.

Overall the A-Class is definitely worth looking at. It may, however, hit a few speed bumps because of pricing, as one needs to spec it up significantly to have it look the part. It certainly has its work cut out in a tough segment.

 

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Prices

A 200 – R499 000

A 250 Sport – R593 300

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