2014 Mercedes A-Class Long Term Review
The A-Class might be an entry-level Merc but it carries the same three-pointed stars’ aura.
Another German car has arrived in our long term garage and this time it’s a Mercedes, the baby Benz from Stuttgart, the A-Class. The third generation A-Class needs no briefing about, it’s a car which has instantly set the sales registers ringing for the three pointed star. While the old A-Class did not manage to make you skip a beat, the latest iteration of this hatchback instantly captures your heart. Besides being a massive success in global markets, the new Mercedes A-Class is in tremendous demand in the domestic market. We spend time with the entry level Merc and are already head over heels, here is our initial long term impressions.
Any Mercedes will make you look good because of the attention it gets on the road, the A-Class is no different at all. The styling is spot on, the vehicle looks stunning and even in sober white, you can’t help but notice the neat attention to detail, our favourite undoubtedly being the 302 pin diamond grille. The head and tail lights are wrapped with LEDs and they do look delicious in the night. The smooth flowing lines and sporty matte finished wheels further accentuate the appeal of this hatch.
The styling of this baby Merc is so well executed it often finds people glaring at it. Where ever we have taken the car, we have faced an abnormal issue and that’s of finger marks on the windows. Kids just love the A-Class and whenever they see it parked (whether it’s Mumbai, Pune or even Mahabaleshwar), they get all excited and try to have a peep inside. The A-Class does have an imposing presence and that’s largely due to the way the overall design evokes feelings of want for on-lookers.
If the exteriors are eye ball magnet then there is no surprise when you step inside. The cabin is a wonderful place to be in, as we found out on our long journeys where fatigue almost never set in. The front seats are large, sporty and offer ample comfort. The rear seats are on the firmer side though and offer decent legroom if tall passengers are not sitting ahead but the view is poor due to the large front seats with integrated head rests and small windows. The dashboard has a neat and attractive layout with those AC vents from the SLS being pure eye candy while also being very functional. Audio quality is good and the multi-information display has plenty of info on offer, all accessed with a flick of a button on the neat steering mounted controls. Speaking of the steering, the horn is very effective, people always respond to it and give way.
Powering the A-Class is a 2.0-litre four-pot and admittedly power output isn’t much with just 107 horses on tap. Power is channelled to the front wheels and thus the A-Class isn’t as heavy as its rear-wheel driven rival. There is ample amount of performance for city driving while on the highway, you are best off to put the car into S mode to extract the best performance. The stalk mounted gear selector is very convenient although the 7-speed automatic isn’t the quickest around but shifts smoothly.
When we had the ML-Class for a long term, we noticed how frugal the latest generation of Mercedes cars have become but with the A-Class, we were in for a bigger surprise. Obviously driving style has a large part to play when it comes to mileage, so we tried to gauge the mileage of this baby Benz at different speeds. When driven enthusiastically, it returns around 13 km/l but once you sober down, you can really extract stellar figures from the A-Class. When driven under 120 km/hr, the A diesel returned us 17 km/l, stretching to 19 km/l when under 100 km/hr. Further slow down to 80 km/hr and the A diesel exceeds its ARAI claim of 20.06 km/l. The highly frugal nature of the A-Class makes it the most efficient car to have ever visited our long term garage which is a big compliment considering cars like the Honda Amaze, Maruti Swift, Nissan Micra, Volkswagen Polo, Tata Indigo, etc. have been with us (all diesels).
The A is stiffly sprung which coupled with low profile tyres doesn’t give it a very comfortable ride. The car is stiff and on bad roads, you do feel the pinch. However the A-Class doesn’t bounce or wallow and remains very composed at high speeds, the fantastic NVH deserving a special mention. What’s outstanding though is the handling, the steering has terrific feel and the A darts into corners with lots of precision. The steering is very good to hold and this is a car you can drive continuously through valleys, it’s so much fun.
In fact driving the A-Class back to back with the BMW 1-Series has totally convinced us that this Mercedes isn’t far off from the Bimmer when it comes to the driving experience. Both the 1 and A are very different, the former being a rear-wheel drive car with 50:50 weight distribution while the Stuttgart automobile is based on a more efficient front drive layout. Either way, the A-Class does inspire confidence and that reason alone is why we keep hunting for sharp corners to exploit the excellent chassis of this hatchback.
The A is the easiest way to enter the coveted Mercedes brand and in spite of being devoid of certain features expected in a luxury brand, the A-Class feels every inch a Mercedes. While it’s not as comfortable as traditional Merc’s, it more than makes up for it with its involving dynamics. Aimed at younger buyers, the A-Class without doubt makes you feel special and you simply can’t put a price to the feeling of driving a Mercedes which also makes you skip heart beats when you see it from the outside, inside or put it through a pair of sharp corners.