The Indian arm of Mercedes-Benz, a subsidiary of the German premium automotive marque, has introduced its A-Class range of luxury hatchbacks in the domestic car market. Brimming with stellar looks and powerful performance from under its hood, the A-Class has set a new benchmark for models in the luxury hatchback segment. The model has carved a new chapter for the company in India and along with its sibling B-Class Sports Tourer has stormed its way into the core of the heart of Indian buyers. Already a major success in Europe, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has developed a fan base of its own in the country.
Prior to the launch of 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, it was known that the company was targeting the young Indian buyers. The German auto maker is looking at appealing to the young brand conscious domestic audience and is banking on its A-Class and B-Class models to propel its sales in the immensely competitive market situation. At present, Mercedes-Benz chases BMW and Audi in terms of sales recorded in the luxury vehicle space. The company enjoys a first mover advantage with its A-Class as both BMW and Audi are yet to enter the luxury hatchback segment of Indian auto market. Further, A-Class is the cheapest and most affordable 'Three Pointed Star' model available in the country.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Launch History
The first generation (W168) of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class was originally brought into the world in 1997, while its second generation was revealed in 2004. The first version A-Class was a 5-door hatch, whereas the second generation model was a 3-door with a ground clearance of six inches lesser than the former. Over the years, A-Class has gone through several design changes that conform to the company's maturing design philosophy and the latest model is one such perfect example.
The Mercedes-Benz W168 was unveiled during the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997. Interestingly, the design was quite unusual for an A-Class, as this vehicle had a front wheel drive layout, with a short length but tall structure. It came with an innovative frontal-impact absorption system which allowed the engine and transmission to slide below the pedals instead of getting into the passenger, during a high impact frontal collision. However, during an 'elk test' performed by Swedish auto publication Teknikens Varld, the car flipped over. After initially denying the problem, 2,600 units of the vehicle were later recalled by Mercedes-Benz and sales were suspended for three months. During this period, the suspension was modified and Electronic Stability Control was fitted.
So far, three generations of the legendary A-Class have been revealed in international markets. This also includes a Fuel cell 5-door version, which produces 87 bhp of peak power through an electric motor. This hydrogen Fuel cell version has a range of 160 km and three of these were used during the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show for press shuttle service. Additionally, four of the production-ready Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-cell vehicles were sent to Deutsche Telekom and BEWAG/Vattenfall Europe in Berlin.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Pricing
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class in India is the most affordable 'Three Pointed Star' model available in the domestic luxury car market. Buoyed by the vehicle's success in Europe, the German auto maker introduced A-Class for steering its sales numbers in the country. Further, Mercedes-Benz wants to catch the imagination of young Indian buyers as they represent a major fraction of the company's customer base at the moment. Competitive pricing, peppy engine performance and modish looks are some of the strong suits of the A-Class luxury hatchbacks. At present, A-Class has no real competition in the market, but would compete against the yet-to-be launched BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 and Volvo V40 Cross Country models in the country.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has created entirely a new segment of powerful luxury hatchbacks in the India auto market, which are also tremendously fuel efficient at the same time. The A-Class first impressions suggest that it is remarkably emotive in design with beautiful curves all around. The car is fun to drive and manoeuvring through city traffic is both exciting and easy. Globally, six different engines for the A-Class are available, but India gets the 1.6 litre petrol and the 2.2 litre diesel ones. Both power-mills provide ample power during overtaking and pack a powerful punch to be put into use on the highways. Emissions as low as just 98 g of CO2/km (in the diesel trim) are produced and the drag coefficient of 0.27 is certainly best-in-class, permitting speedy acceleration. Mercedes-Benz has paid special attention to the safety of this hatchback, which is visible through standard equipment such as the radar-based Collision Prevention Assist system.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Specifications
Two engine options are available in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The petrol version is a 1.6 litre turbo motor, generating a power of 121 bhp with 200 Nm of peak torque. The other is a 2.2 litre turbo diesel, producing 119 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque. Evidently, while the power is slightly better in the petrol version (A 180), torque is significantly better in the diesel version. The petrol motor is mated to a 7-speed DST automatic gearbox, while the same is not available for the diesel version (A 180 CDI). It was initially thought that the diesel motor would produce 109 bhp of power, same as the international version, but then Mercedes-Benz decide to fine tune this for the Indian auto market, now with a higher 119 bhp.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Exterior
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class looks sportiest in its class and flaunts the company's futuristic design language. The luxury hatchback boasts of nice proportions from all ends and is easily the cutest Mercs available in the country. Looks wise, the tapering nose of this vehicle, along with daytime running LED lights give A-Class an aggressive appearance. An air dam below the front bumper allows air to easily flow across, giving good aerodynamics to the A-Class. At the rear end, there are single exhaust pipes visible at either end of the rear bumper. Sharp lines of design can be observed all along the sides, while uber-cool 15-inch alloy wheels have been fitted on the A-Class, which provide optimum grip on various surfaces.Exterior Appearance
The appearance of the current generation Mercedes-Benz is reflective of the modern and aggressive Mercedes design philosophy. A result of this philosophy is the A-Class' two-box design with distinct character. The car symbolises high quality design and dynamism at the very first glance, while sitting on the tarmac with a sporty stance. There are nice curves and cuts on the bonnet, side profile and tailgate, which explain the high degree of aerodynamic design elements incorporated in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Ground clearance of the present generation A-Class is 18 centimetres lesser than its previous version. Overall, the car is also bigger than its closest competitor, BMW 1-Series, which could be launched later in the year 2013. The new A-Class is 454 mm longer and 16 mm wider than the version it replaces, which was stopped back in 2010. It has a total length of 4292 mm, width of 1780 mm and a height of 1433 mm. In addition, its wheelbase is 2699 mm long. The A-Class is longer than Volkswagen’s Golf (4201 mm) and Audi A3 Sportback (4236 mm).
Outside edges are clearly defined and the taut surfaces mark the exterior design of this car. There is a constant interplay between concave and convex surfaces, due to which a beautiful play of light is created along the sides of the A-Class, adding to its unique appearance. A well-pronounced V-shape and additional air intakes can be observed along the sides. Design of headlamps, along with the layout of light elements within, form an integral part of the overall futuristic design concept of this vehicle.Exterior dimensions
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class exterior dimension details have been provided in the table below.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Interiors
| Criterion || Measurement |
| Length (mm) || 4292 |
| Width (mm) || 1780 |
| Height (mm) || 1433 |
| Wheelbase (mm) || 2699 |
| Fuel tank (litres) || 50 |
| Boot capacity (litres) || 341 |
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been trimmed with several world class comfort features in its interior setting. The stylish hatchback boasts of a capacious interior cabin space, luxurious seats, ultra modish instrument cluster, classy lighting arrangement and ample air conditioning vents, along with everything that is expected in a model of its class. Mercedes-Benz vehicles are famous for their rich premium feel and the new A-Class is a perfect embodiment of that. The company has claimed that this model is fitted with several class-leading attributes, which is a big reason for the stupendous popularity of A-Class among the domestic audience.Interior appearance
The starting point for interior design of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is said to be based on the 'Mercedes-Benz Aesthetics No. 2' interior that was displayed at the Detroit Motor Show back in 2011. This showed that the new and aggressive Mercedes-Benz design language was being translated for the interiors as well. All trim elements on the inside appear to have been given an electroplated finish, which in turn has resulted in a 'cool touch' effect on the metal surfaces. Sufficient attention to detail has been paid on the inside, as visible from the quality of materials used and finish provided.
There are five round AC vents that can be seen on the instrument panel, which also display the electroplated finish. Airflow direction is controlled by an insert which looks much like an aircraft turbine. The display screen at the front has a black piano-lacquer-look fitted in a silver frame that gives a true aircraft cockpit like feeling inside the Mercedes-Benz A-Class cabin.
On the instrument cluster, two large white dials can be noticed with a small dial within the same. The dials on the sporty equipment lines and packages appear to have a chequered flag effect. The 3-spoke steering wheel has 12 different function buttons, along with an electroplated bezel. Positioning of various design elements such as the head unit, lower control panel, air conditioning operating unit, rotary push button and the armrest indicate the high degree of attention that Mercedes-Benz engineers have paid to ergonomics.
For seats installed in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, a range of exotic coverings are available, such as leather, fabric and Artico. This is also inclusive of different colour combinations and geometry, which means that the customer would have an opportunity to choose customisation as per his liking for the seats. There is also a unique opening between the upper edge of the backrest and the head restraint. At the back of the front seats this opening is outlined by a frame having silver chrome. Apart from this, a Light and Sight package is also available, through which ambient lighting as per one's mood can be achieved.Interior comfort
Luxurious seats in the vehicle ensure maximum comfort for every individual, as a variety of leather or fabric upholstery can be chosen. There is adequate amount of legroom and headroom for every passenger in the vehicle, which can seat up to five adults. This is also because the interior setting of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is more sedan-like rather than hatchback-like. Interestingly, the seats in this vehicle are connected to a system which can remember the seating positions of various persons.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Fuel Economy
The diesel variant of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (A 180 CDI) gives a fuel economy of 20 kmpl, as per ARAI. Apart form being a luxurious and comfortable hatchback, the car also ensures that it can cruise long distances without refuelling and generates very low emissions of CO2 (98 g of CO2/km in the A 180 CDI).Mercedes-Benz A-Class On Road Drive
One can feel a refined sportiness while driving the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback, which represents a perfect balance between maximum agility and high degree of safety, along with high levels of comfort as well. Although the above mentioned features were always synonymous with the brand, it is great to see the same being implemented even in a hatchback. Controlling the vehicle is effortless, thanks to the nimble electromechanical power steering.
Interestingly, the suspension of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a four-link rear axle, which ensures best stability at high speeds. With the help of this new axle, forces are absorbed by three control arms and one trailing arm on each wheel. It also implies longitudinal and lateral dynamics are completely independent of each another. For added grip on the tarmac, Extended Traction Control (XTC) has also been provided in the new A-Class. As per reports, extensive use of driving simulations have been made by the Mercedes-Benz development centre located in Sindelfingen and the results can be seen on the production vehicle.
Apart from the above enhancements, the seating position of the current Mercedes-Benz A-Class has also been reduced (174 mm less) and the centre of gravity has been reduced (24 mm less), as compared to its previous generation. This has resulted in much better road grip than before, because of better weight distribution and low centre of gravity.
The electromechanical power steering has a number of functions. It ensures corrective steering while braking on road surfaces with various levels of grip. It also lessens the extent to which front-wheel drive has an impact on steering. In addition, this power steering also helps the Active Park Assist function implements itself. Crosswind and road gradients are easily negated by the steering, which thereby simplifies the driving process for individuals.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Power
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has several strong facets and impressive power – torque figures are among one of them. The refined petrol and diesel motors develop the necessary power required during overtaking and testing the speed limits on highways. The engines pack a powerful punch and do justice to the vehicle's sporty dynamics. The 1.6 litre petrol engine in the A-Class generates a power output of 121 bhp. On the other hand, the larger 2.2 litre turbo diesel churns out a power output of 109 bhp. Torque in this diesel variant (A 180 CDI) is higher than torque in the petrol variant (A 180).Mercedes-Benz A-Class Acceleration and pick up
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is capable of travelling from 0-100 kmph in less than 8 seconds. These figures are quite good for a hatchback, which feels peppier and quicker than a sedan while driving. The gear shifts are effortless due to the 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox mated to the engine. Further, the new engines are more responsive and the car appears to move into greater speeds faster than previous generations.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Safety and Security
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class in India has been equipped with several cutting edge safety and security systems in its overall package. For instance, disc braking abilities have been provided to all four wheels of the A-Class, in both engine variants. This is one of the few vehicles in India that has disk braking enabled on each individual wheel. Callipers on the rear axle, along with the brake boosters have been made of aluminium. A particularly convenient feature is the Hold function, which is also seen in larger models. If the driver engages the brake pedal at a stop light with slightly more force than usual, the brake would remain depressed until the car is moved once again. This prevents the frequent usage of a hand brake.
After parking, an electric parking brake can be engaged in this vehicle, which works through actuator motors that act upon rear axle callipers. This brake can be activated via a button present on the left of the dashboard. All four wheel brakes can be activated through the ESP hydraulic unit. The standard safety equipments incorporated in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class are airbags, Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) System, Traction control system (ESP – Electronic Stability Program) and collapsible steering wheel, amongst others.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Wheels
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class looks stylish with its sporty 15-inch 10-hole steel wheels that come as standard on the A 180 and A 180 CDI trims. The classy hatchback sits stylishly on the tarmac and the wheels provide nice grip on different types of road. The 10-hole steel wheels complement this vehicle's sporty nature and blend well with the sleek side profile.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Stereo and accessories
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class in India is bundled with several top draw music and multimedia functionalities that are replete with smartphone (iPhone) compatibility. There is a Drive Kit Plus for the iPhone® system that provides control of several functions through the special Mercedes-Benz app called 'Digital DriveStyle'. The Digital DriveStyle has several functions, such as Advanced navigation solution from Garmin with real-time traffic information, 3D map presentation and points of Interest search, along with search function powered by Google™ StreetView. The AUPEO!™ Personal Radio system takes care of the music interests of the driver and occupants and is replete with an internet and satellite radios as well. Further, the CarFinder function automatically stores location of the vehicle on iPhone, which makes finding the vehicle in a big parking lot simple through the phone device.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Dealerships
The prominent Mercedes-Benz showrooms present across the country are listed in the tabular form below.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Company Quotes
| Location || Name of dealership |
| Kolkata || · Landmark cars (East) Pvt. Ltd. |
| Chennai || · Trans Car India Pvt. Ltd. |
| Bangalore || · Advaith Motors Pvt. Ltd. |
· Sundaram Motors
| Mumbai || · Auto Hangar (India) Pvt. Ltd. |
· Metro Motors Auto Hangar Division
· Shaman Wheels Private limited
| Delhi || · T & T Motors Limited |
| Pune || · B U Bhandari Motors Pvt. Ltd. |
On the new A-Class, Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz was quoted as saying, “Translating the new dynamic style of Mercedes-Benz into the compact class was a challenge that was great fun to tackle. No other car in this segment is as progressive as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Absolutely typical for Mercedes is the sculptural shape of the A-Class. The character lines, in particular on its sides, lend the Mercedes-Benz A-Class structure and terseness. The new dynamic style is perceptible at first glance in the interior as well.”
“The inspiration from aircraft design is continued in the A-Class", explains automobile designer Jan Kaul. "The instrument panel is clearly divided into an upper part inspired on a wing profile and a muscular lower section. This creates the impression that the upper section is supported by a muscle. The interior of the A-Class represents a big step forward in terms of quality - both in the materials used and in the consistency of the design.”
Designer Jan Kaul sums up, “If you were to take a seat in the A-Class with your eyes closed - you would never think, upon opening your eyes, that you were sitting in a compact-class vehicle.”
“Mercedes-Benz is becoming the most dynamic premium brand in the world. As part of this development, the A-Class represents an important milestone. The A-Class is completely new, down to the last detail. In automotive development, it's not often you get the chance to start with a clean sheet of paper. Our engineers have made the very most of that opportunity”, explains Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Competitor analysis
Vehicles that should compete directly against new Mercedes-Benz A-Class are the yet-to-be launched BMW 1-Series and Audi A3 premium hatchbacks in the Indian luxury car market. The 1-Series is expected to hit local streets sometime by the end of 2013, whereas the Audi A3 could enter the market in 2014. The upcoming A-Class competition would mean that some fireworks are expected soon in the luxury hatchback segment of the country. The BMW 1 Series comes with a 1.6 litre petrol engine, generating a maximum power of 136 bhp and a torque of 220 Nm. Features in this vehicle ABS, parking sensors, 6 airbags, EBD, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), traction control and stylish fog lamps. Auto vipers and auto headlamps have also been fitted in this vehicle. In terms of price considerations, there would not be much difference between A-Class and 1 Series in the market, which makes the impending competition between the two German cars all more interesting.
Until 1 Series arrives in India, BMW's MINI Cooper models have taken the competition to the doors of Mercedes-Benz. The MINI Cooper S hatchbacks have similar pricing as compared to the A-Class in the market. Another vehicle that would enter this competitive territory is the Volvo V40 Cross Country crossover. Similar to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, this would also be offered in both petrol and diesel options. The design and capability of this vehicle is more like a crossover rather than a pure hatchback, besides the Volvo V40 is expected to bear a competitive price tag upon its launch in India.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Variants
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class in India is offered in two variants, one of which is a diesel-powered one while the other is petrol-powered. The petrol version is known as the A 180 and the diesel variant is called A 180 CDI.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Pros
The levels of technology, in terms of safety and performance that are provided in this vehicle have never been provided in any past hatchback available in the Indian luxury automobile market. The well thought A-Class price gives customers the option to purchase the most affordable Mercedes-Benz car ever made. Apart from the on-road performance, the vehicle is also highly fuel efficient.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Cons
Compared to the overall length of 4292 mm, the boot space in this luxury hatchback is a little constrained, but is ample to accommodate luggage of a small Indian family. The A-Class' low ground clearance could make it difficult for the vehicle to tackle the potholed country roads.Mercedes-Benz A-Class Conclusion
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a luxury hatchback which has created an entirely new segment of vehicles in India. Development of this segment is a sign that the auto market has attained maturity. This particular vehicle offers a perfect mix of looks, performance and fuel economy, besides having bridged the gap between a regular hatchback and a performance sedan. Interestingly, on a global basis, A-Class price is more than that of the B-Class Sports Tourer. However, in India and in German markets, it is the other way round. For individuals who may have always wanted to own an affordable vehicle from the luxurious Mercedes-Benz brand, this is the perfect vehicle. Further, the A-Class is helping Mercedes-Benz India towards commanding a better market share as compared to BMW, Audi and Volvo in the luxury car market.