Mercedes Benz A Class: Alpha Beat
Mercedes Benz has always been a premium brand in India. They have made cars which have appealed to connoisseurs of luxury and comfort. Luxurious cars by this company have always attracted a mature audience. This is a trend that the company has been enjoying for a longtime.
Mercedes Benz looks to shed its unfavorable image of a brand that appeals to older audiences which seems to have been built in the market. Competition, especially BMW is known to make aggressive looking cars. They have always connected with the younger generation cause of their mean looks. The same was seen in the case of Audi.
The German marque’s latest hatch, a small car with massive on impact, has blown us away. The A Class re-enforces Benz’s image of sophisticated and sexy. The car can make heads turn even while standing still. As if the dazzling radiator grille, flowing silhouette and compact rear were not sufficient, then the prices of the car were something that has shocked everyone for sure. The diesel is priced lower than the petrol. This Alpha Class car of Mercedes Benz was with us recently and we were floored. Find our report in different sections of this review.
The Mercedes Benz A Class has to be the best looking car I have driven off late. While the BMW engineers might design their cars in boxing rings and Audi fellas use conference rooms to do it, the A Class boys decided to relax and chill out in a club. The A Class fails to look out of a production line but instead seems is made in a pub with Mr.David Guetta doing what he does best.
The radiator grille which is jeweled with 302 diamond finished pins is the most beautiful looking grille seen on any hatch. The grille is rightly crowned by the three pointed star at the centre with its slats flowing across on both sides of the grille. The wide jawed front bumper looks very dynamic with flowing contours slicing at proper positions. Even the air flow guiding sections on both corner ends on the bumper look exceptionally well carved.
The Bi-Xenon headlamps with day time running lamps and washers offer fantastic illumination. Even inside the headlamp one sees intricate detailing with chrome lining flowing along the border of the light assembly. The day running lamps look similar in design to the one seen on the B Class.
Normally, it’s only the front which leaves a positive impression and the excitement level drops as we proceed to the following profiles but that’s not true in case of this hot hatch. The long stretched nose line on the hood looks very elegant. The ridges on the side panel follow the same theme as on B Class.
The silhouette indeed gets the pulse rating going higher with its roof line racing on top and gradually flowing down with a thick pillar. The design looks very edgy and there is a great combination of convex and concave surfaces embedded with each other. It has a very coupe-ish design line.
The petrol comes in sport trim as standard. With the athletic trim label, it gets 5 twin spoke 17” alloys. It looks extremely dynamic. There is a contrasting combination of relaxed meeting athletic. The long flowing chrome window line is paired with the all black A and B pillars. The machined alloys too contribute to the overall appeal of the car.
I have always had as issue with the rear of Benz cars as they look very disconnected from the overall design. The A Class however zipped my mouth with its compact and well crafted rear. It is a sight when only the LED tail lights are switched on in pitch black conditions. By the virtue of this one being the petrol sport trim, it has twin exhaust pipes which are nicely snuggled inside the rear bumper.
If the exteriors are so exciting then it is natural to pin hopes with the interiors of this vehicle as well. It is a Mercedes Benz car so the interiors simply cannot go wrong. As for as making luxurious cabin is concerned, the three pointed star rules the roost and the competition tries hard to catch up.
While other hatchbacks may have a cabin, this one has a cocoon. It feels very energetic once inside the cabin. I have to agree that the cabin is not meant for the large and healthy like me and it did take some efforts for me to get inside and get out. But once inside, it feels very sporty. The driver position enjoys comfort of the electrically adjustable seats. Also, the buttons and controls are very much in reach.
The seats are very comfortable with 4-way lumbar supports. Front row seats wrap the passengers carefully and offer proper support. In the rear though, the story is not as merry as it seems. The seats are hard and the space feels cramped. For an average sized individual, the room is decent. Front legroom is nice if the rear is compensated. The headroom too is good for front row passengers but as you proceed to the subsequent row it goes on decreasing.
The panaromic sunroof makes lights up the cabin and makes it feel spacious. The travel of this sliding roof is good. Even with the roof open, driving at high speeds is not an issue at all. There are wind deflectors placed with a net structure which ensures lower noise levels while travelling with open roof.
Something that always connects with me is the use of black and silvers inside. In the A Class too, the contrast of Black and silver is seen everywhere. The cabin feels very premium. This may be the entry point Benz car but even then it does not feel like one.
The AC vents sports the same SLS AMG inspired fighter air craft propeller design. To set the mood right, Mercedes offers Audi 20 CD entertainment system. It has a 14.7 cms TFT colour display screen which has a great resolution. The screen can be read clearly in night too and is not smudgy. The entertainment system can be operated via buttons on the steering wheel. This is a hatchback so obviously cabin space is not a luxury which this vehicle will enjoy however; the company has enthusiastically fixed six loud speakers inside.
There are smart storage options on the central panel with feather touch closing lids. On the door, a litre class beverage bottle can be fixed easily. It has decent boot space. The only issue with the boot is it has the spare tyre strapped in permanently which eats up space as well as makes it inconvenient for luggage storage.
Park the A Class anywhere and you will realize that the ambience was missing something until the A Class arrived. This car gets the closest possible to an affordable performance car. When we got the Petrol Sport trim for our review, we were more than excited to see if this one would perform as aggressively as it looked.
Inside the A Class, it does not feel like a typical hatch cabin but instead it feels like a cocoon. Gets the seats at the lowest possible and the normal streets can transform from mundane to insane. Once inside, the commuters outside change into audience who are in a constant awe with the way this ride looks. Apart from girls giggling and staring at it even the guys don’t mint to giving it a constant look. This Alpha car surely has the look of a stunner.
The B Class which we had reviewed sometime back was not a performer as such. It had a “Sports Tourer” tag which did not feel sporty at all. It was a car for the ones who wanted extra space without the car looking ugly and bulky. With the A Class, the image is totally different.
The A Class is meant for the young and restless. It is meant for the iPhone generation who seek a lot from their gizmos and gadgetry. It is for the ones who like to live life in the fast lane. The A Class packs in lot of punch. The petrol unit is a very enthusiastic unit.
It is powered by a 4 cylinder, 1.6 litre petrol engine which produces 122 Hp of power and 200Nm of torque. This is a new engine and has been developed with lower fuel consumption as the prime need. It has a high pressure direct injection and a precise combustion process thus guaranteeing complete burning of fuel. There is also an option of ECO start/stop function which raises fuel efficiency of the engine.
The A Class is fun from the very start. It has three driving options to choose from. Though the 1.6 litre may appear small but then it’s quite a performer where power delivery is concerned. The red needles on the tachometer fail to go breathless and holds very strong across rpms. There is no lag of any sort.
It features a 7 speed dual clutch transmission which is seamless. Click the paddles to do a up/down shift and the unit shifts gears swiftly. This is also cause of the dual clutch construction where in the sub-transmission supports different pairs of gears. It has minimal delay while shifting from one gear to the other. The shift pattern is also dependant on the drive program where in the Sport mode, gear shifting takes place at higher engine speeds which is relaxed in the Economy mode. In the manual mode it shifts as needed.
The ride quality is not very smooth as the setup is tweaked for a stiff ride. The A Class sports McPherson struts on the front axle and a four link rear axle. The handling of A Class is fantastic and is corners very well.
Even on a particular tight section, the vehicle does not lose confidence and can maintain its stance at great speeds. The low profile tyres do manage to grab the road properly. Even the brakes performed superbly on wet roads.The low ground clearance however makes it difficult. In some of the toll booths, the speed breakers are too big and often the lower surface managed to get scraped.
The compact dimensions and crisp steering feedback makes it a very easily maneuverable car. While reversing the car the rear windshield is not too helpful but then there is a reverse assist camera. With a fantastic screen resolution, we managed to park the A Class almost everywhere. The best episode has to be us parking it perpendicular between two trucks.
This one also has 7 airbags, ESP, Acceleration Skid control, adaptive brake lights, electric parking brake and tyre pressure loss warning system which makes it a safe hatch too. We got a realistic mileage of 10 kmpl which is decent for a car which performs like this.
|Ex showroom Mumbai in Rs||22,21,900|
|Dimensions in mm|
|Turning circle Radius||5.5M|
|Boot Capacty in Liters||341|
|Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL||12|
|Tyre size Front||225/45 R17|
|Tyre size Rear||225/45 R17|
|Top speed KMPH||202|
|Tank capacity in Liters||56|
|Kerb Weight (Kg)||1395|
|Features||A 180 Sport||A 180 CDI Style|
|7D-DGT Dual Clutch Transmission||Yes||Yes|
|Speed Sensitive Steering||Yes||Yes|
|Sports seats with Upholstery in ARTICO Messancy and Contrasting Top Stiching||Yes||Yes|
|Instrument Clusture with multi function color display||Yes||Yes|
|3 Spoke Multifunction steering wheel with 12 Functional keys||Yes||Yes|
|Steering wheel and Shift lever in Nappa Leather||Yes||Yes|
|Outside temperature display||Yes||Yes|
|Trip computer in Multifunction Display||Yes||Yes|
|ECO Start/Stop Function||Yes||Yes|
|Steering column adjust height and reach||Yes||Yes|
|Airconditioning with dust filter||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically Adjustable Seats||Yes||Yes|
|Direction Control system with one touch lane changing function||Yes||Yes|
|Folding rear seat back rest||Yes||Yes|
|Electroninc Stability Programme (ESP) Curve Dynamic Asst||Yes||Yes|
|Electric parking brakes||Yes||Yes|
|Tyre pressure loss warning system||Yes||Yes|
|Crash responsive emergency lighting||Yes||Yes|
|Airbag for Driver and front passanger||Yes||Yes|
|Side impact airbag for driver and front passanger||Yes||Yes|
|Window airbag from front and rear seats||Yes||Yes|
|Knee airbag fro driver||Yes||Yes|
|Audio 20CD Radio with dual tuner MP3/WMA/AAC Compatiable CD Player||Yes||Yes|
|USB interface and AUX-IN||Yes||Yes|
|Central Infotainment control||Yes||Yes|
|Color Display with 14.7 cm Screen||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||180 Sport||2.0 TFSI Quattro||sDrive 18i|
|Ex showroom Mumbai in Lakh||22,21,900||26,21,000||23.53.400|
|Transmission||7G- DCT||7 Tronic||Multitronc|
|Dimensions in mm|
|Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL||12||15||15|
|Tyre size Front||225/45 R17||215/65 R16||225/50 R17|
|Tyre size Rear||225/45 R17||215/65 R16||225/50 R17|
|Top speed KMPH||202||230||200|
|Tank capacity in Liters||56||64||63|
|Kerb Weight (Kg)||1395||1640||1590|
|Turning circle Radius||5.5M||NA||NA|
|Boot Capacty in Lters||341||NA||NA|
|PARKTRONC including parking guidance||Deluxe Automatic Airconditioning||Xenon head lamp with day time runnng lights|
|Attenton assist||Audi Active laneasst||Leather covered multi function steering wheel|
|Intellgent light system||Audi Side asst||Glass sunroof|
|Aglty control package||Adaptive Light||Audi Parking system plus|
|PRE SAFE & NECK PRO||Panaramic Glass roof||Cruise control|
|Thermatic 2-Zone automatic cilmate control||Xenon Plus||Audi music interface|
|LED Day time running lights||BOSE Surround Sound||-|
|Rear Light with LED Technology||MMI Navigation Plus||-|
|Full Size spare alloy wheel||-||-|
|Exterior mirrors left/right electrically folding||-||-|
The Mercedes Benz A Class has been launched as the entry level Benz car but then it carries all the signatures characteristics of a typical Benz mobile. The company targets young individuals as prospective customers for this car.
Surprisingly, the company is not pushing it towards first time buyers but then the A Class will be a second car in a household which already has bigger premium cars. Apart from youth, this car will also appeal to women buyers as its looks cute and compact and is extremely easy to drive around.
Before we give a final verdict, the company already has an achievement of raking in 400 bookings in less than ten days of its launch. This is a commendable especially since the auto sector has grey clouds hovering above it. The success of A Class is evident as it has not gone very smoothly with the competition.
Eberhard Kern, Managing director and CEO of Mercedes Benz has a lot in common with the company’s philosophy. He is a man of few words and believes in his work talking then he doing it personally. Mercedes Benz too does not believe in creating unnecessary noise but instead is very humble in its approach. At the unveiling of A Class, Mr.Kern accepted that India is very important for the company. He also assured that there are a series of launches which will happen in the country and will help the company gain momentum.
Let’s not forget that Mercedes Benz was the first to coin the premium car segment. Even today, it enjoys an unparallel brand connect with the audience. The A Class is a symbol of Mercedes regaining its control over the premium market. This Alpha offering surely sets the right beat.