The all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine is not called a limousine because of its extra-long dimensions. In fact, this is the most compact Mercedes-Benz sedan in the portfolio. But the limousine name is associated with all their sedans. Now we're still wondering why in the world Mercedes-Benz would want to invest in an entry-level sedan when the world is moving towards SUVs. The answer to that, according to Mercedes, is that over fifty per cent of their clientele is into sedans and when the last-gen CLA and GLA were being sold they were both selling in equal numbers which indicates that Mercedes-Benz customers love their sedans.
The A-Class Limousine exists to offer the quintessential Mercedes-Benz experience albeit in a smaller and more affordable package. But what remains to be seen is how well Mercedes-Benz prices the new car. It’s got the looks, the feel-good factor and an unbeatable warranty plan, and if it undercuts its rivals by a surprising price, the A-Class limousine will get lapped up.
The way the new A-Class looks is one of the main reasons it will sell well. While the earlier CLA had a sleek coupe profile, its looks were still a bit polarizing. Not so with the new A-Class Limousine. This car looks good from every angle. The front looks aggressive thanks to the sweptback headlights and the massive traditional grille. On the sides, Mercedes hasn’t put in too many creases and kept it clean. While in profile, the new A-Class might not look as sleek as the CLA but according to Mercedes-Benz, it boasts the least drag co-efficient in the world for a production car. Moving to the rear, again it’s an uncluttered look with the wide LED tail lamps. Giving a bit of contrast is the blacked-out lower half of the rear bumper which also boasts twin faux exhaust outlets. Overall, the new A-Class Limousine is a head-turner.
The interiors are where the magic happens in the new A-Class. Stepping inside the cabin, there is no doubt that this is a Mercedes-Benz. Swathes of beige leather welcome you and you have a blend of piano black, aluminium and wood giving out just the right kind of touch and feel experience one would expect from a luxury car. Even the dashboard design is fantastic as it protrudes towards the passengers with those signature turbine aircon vents just adding further to the experience.
And then of course you have the display screen. It’s massive and almost runs across the length of the dash. The part in front of the driver is the all-digital instrument display which gives out a massive array of driving information. And then right next to it is the touchscreen infotainment system. The screen display is just brilliant, sharp, high resolutions and vivid colours that make it a joy to read off. The infotainment system can also be accessed via a haptic touchpad which works flawlessly. The sports leather steering wheel is familiar which gets all the controls possible along with touchpads on either side. What we also noticed was that this brilliant new MBUX system has a very easy to use interface and isn’t fussy at all.
Now let’s talk about the space on offer. Now, this might be a compact sedan, but Mercedes-Benz has made sure that the dimensions are generous and the packaging is smart. Once you bend your back a little and get in, the driver seat feels superb with all the support you need. They are powered and get memory function as well so finding or getting your driving position back isn’t a task at all.
At the rear, 2729mm of legroom means knee-room is more than adequate, so if one does want to use it as a chauffeur-driven car, it’s not a problem at all, however, legroom is limited and so is the headroom which could be a problem for the really tall ones.
Boot space is generous too at 405 litres (395 litres in the diesel variant) and it's wide with the loading lip being not too tall. For additional space, the seats fold down in 40:20:40 format which can be done via levers in the boot itself.
The new A-Class does not get different trims and comes in fully loaded trims only. So you get a loaded feature list that includes LED headlamps, panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable seats with memory function, two-zone climate control, wireless charging, cruise control, hard-disk navigation, and smartphone connectivity. Now we noticed that the cabin gets as many as five type-C to type-C ports however, no USB ports at all which can be irritating. A USB to Type C would have definitely made it more convenient.
On the safety side, along with a bunch of airbags, ABS, ESP and EBD, the new A-Class also gets the latest pre-safe system and automatic brake assist which stops the car automatically in case the driver falls asleep.
Overall, the new A-class despite being a compact sedan has a decent amount of space and oozes quality as well barring the gear selector stalk which is the cheapest feeling part in the otherwise superbly built cabin.
The A-Class limousine will come with three engine options. There are the A200 petrol, the A200 diesel and the full monty AMG variant. What we are driving here is the A200 petrol. Now with a badge like the A200, one might think there is 2.0-litre petrol under the hood, but surprise surprise, the engine is a 1.3-litre, 4-cylinder unit. But before you get disappointed and here us out further. It might just have 1332cc to play with, but it’s turbocharged and boasts plenty of techs. Talking about the power figures, the 1.3-litre unit pushes out a very impressive 163bhp and 250Nm of torque which is excellent considering its displacement. Transferring the power to the front wheels is a 7-speed DCT gearbox.
Putting it in the drive, the A200 petrol feels smooth and it’s sprightly off the mark as well. There is more than enough power for city use and when you do push it, the A200 does get moving quickly. There is no drama or torque steer and acceleration is strong but in a linear manner. However, it does get very vocal over 5000 rpm and it’s not a very sporty note. But what does feel sporty is the turbo hiss every time the blow-off valve engages.
You also get to choose between drive modes, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual which makes things a little interesting. Mercedes claims a 0-100 kmph time of 8.1 seconds which is quick. But more than outright acceleration, it’s the mid-range performance that’s impressive. The twin-clutch gearbox works very well and keeps the engine in the right zone most of the time. So when you do need the performance immediately, it’s always there. From what Mercedes-Benz claims, its fuel-efficient as well offering 17.5 kmpl, this is more hatchback territory.
With the A-Class Limousine, Mercedes-Benz has tried to work hard on the right balance. The previous CLA had an issue of a stiff ride and along with relatively low profile tyres, the ride quality was crashy at best. But Mercedes have tried hard to get it right this time right from the get-go.
First up, the tyre profile. Mercedes has gone with 155 section tyres this time which means the extra side-wall is sure to add more cushioning. And then of course the suspension has been set-up for better ride quality as well. So how does it do?
For starters, it's way better than its predecessor. The softer set-up and the extra tyre sidewall definitely makes the ride plusher at slow speeds, however, it isn’t what you expect in a Mercedes-Benz. Now don’t get us wrong, the ride quality isn’t bad but it’s just that we have been spoilt by the bigger Merc’s and one just expects Mercedes car’s to waft. Unfortunately, this one does not. But what it lacks in ride quality, it makes up in handling. Body roll is minimal and even sudden direction changes do not upset it. This coupled with very intuitive steering, the new A makes for a very entertaining drive on the twisty’s.
Overall, the A200 petrol isn't really a sports car, but even with a 1.3-litre engine on offer, there is plenty of performance on offer to keep its driver satisfied and is more than enough for what the car is intended for.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||163bhp|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||250Nm @ 1,600rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||-|
|ABS with EBD, ESP, Hillstart Assist, PRE-SAFE||°|
|Hard disk navigation||°|
Competition All Specs
|Model||A-Class Limousine||2 Series|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||163bhp||189bhp|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||250Nm @ 1,600rpm||280Nm @ 1,350rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||-||50|
|Tyre size||-||225/40 R18|
The new A-Class Limousine is all set to be launched next month and Mercedes hopes it takes off right where the CLA left. In its new avatar, the new A-Class has space, performance and all the technology one could ask for in a car in this segment and more but even then it’s not going to be an easy task, especially in this market dominated by SUVs. Head to head, the new A-Class will go up against the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and the new Audi A3 when it gets launched, but sedans aside it also has to deal with the BMW X1 which again is a fantastic product and has the advantage of being an SUV.
We expect the new A-Class to be priced around 42 lakh which is about Rs. 8-10 lakh cheaper than the C-Class and Mercedes wanted to make sure that the gap is substantial so that it does not eat into the sales of its bigger sibling. The car is right, the positioning is right and now all we need to see is if Mercedes-Benz prices it right so that it gets the sales numbers it deserves.