While there are people who aren’t too happy with Mercedes-Benz paying extra attention towards mass-market niches with products like the A-Class and the CLA – truth is that it’s these entry-level offerings that are crucially fuelling the German carmaker’s appeal among budding luxury car buyers. The A-Class especially has done well by introducing a major chunk of first-time luxury car buyers to Mercedes-Benz here in India.
On sale since 2013, the A-Class has had its fair share of mechanical upgrades and additions previously, with this latest facelift dialled in for 2016.
Looking at the exterior design, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that this facelifted model is the same old A-Class. Although, the lack of effort from the designers isn’t necessarily surprising since the A-Class is still a good looking car despite its age. Nonetheless, Mercedes has indeed made a few changes, chief among which are the revised full-LED headlamps, a more aggressive looking front bumper and the signature diamond grille finished in black instead of chrome. Around the back, Mercedes has redesigned the bumper in a way that it conceals the exhaust tip although what’s noticeably different here is the sharper detailing within the taillights.
There are also a few other details that help this facelifted model stand out from the previous A-Class. Details like the smaller 16-inch wheels as standard (bigger wheels are on the options list), chrome accent on the front bumper lip and the ‘A 200d’ badging that falls in line with Mercedes’ new model nomenclature. The Elbaite green metallic paint, which is all new for this facelift, doesn’t hurt either. Having said that, it didn’t work for our editor Vikrant, who thinks it makes the car look a bit too shouty.
Given that this is just a midlife makeover, Mercedes hasn’t fiddled too much with the cabin and as one would expect, the overall design and the layout of materials remain the same. What’s changed though are the contours, surface finishes and some additional equipment. Our test car featured part-leather, part-fabric seats with contrasting green and white stitching and some more leather for the new steering wheel. The latter has been taken off bigger Mercedes models.
What comes as a welcome addition is the new 7-inch display which houses the upgraded COMAND infotainment system. Compared to the old car’s mediocre looking unit, this new bigger display operates in a relatively fuss-free manner.
Still, the A-Class is not without its compromises. While the cabin is well put together and nice to look at, there isn’t much room in there. And although there is enough room to accommodate four adults, that sense of airy feeling is lacking in this car thanks to the portly A-pillars and a high window line. Full-size adults in the back will find legroom to be adequate but there simply isn’t any thigh support to survive a long journey in total comfort. What’s more, access to the rear seat is somewhat awkward because of the low roofline and the narrow door aperture.
The original A-Class for India had a measly 107bhp on tap and an almost unbearably firm ride quality. Fortunately, Mercedes has made a few improvements over the years and what we have now is a car that rides noticeably better and is also quick on its feet compared to the original.
The 2.1-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine makes 136bhp of power and 300Nm of torque. Despite the power upgrade, this engine is the least potent in its class although the A-Class is still no slouch. Thanks to the obligatory 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox making the most of the onboard power, driving the A-Class around the town is a doddle with a strong, linear power delivery and ample grunt to keep up with other motorists. Once coaxed up to highway speed, the A-Class is happy to stay there.
Despite its suspension setup being altered for rough Indian road conditions, the ride quality on the original A-Class was fully on the stiffer side. Since then, Mercedes has tweaked the spring rates, raised the ground clearance and even introduced smaller 16-inch wheels (with this facelifted model) as standard, all in the interest of better ride quality. The higher profile tyres have certainly made the A-Class’ ride more comfortable and less taxing over bumps and potholes.
The A-Class facelift is the first among Mercedes’ entry-level models to come with individual driving modes. In fact, the Dynamic Select option allows drivers to select between ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Individual’ to tweak the A-Class’ steering feel, throttle input and other variables.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||134bhp @ 3600|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||300Nm @ 1600|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50|
|Tyre size||205/55 R16|
|Panoramic sun roof||Yes|
|Different driving modes||Yes|
|Reav view camera||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||A 200d||118d Sport Line||D3 R-Design|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||134bhp @ 3600||143bhp @ 4000||150bhp @ 3500|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||300Nm @ 1600||320 @ 1750||350 @ 1500|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50||50||60|
|Tyre size||205/55 R16||205 / 55 R16||205/ 55 R17|
The A-Class takes most of Mercedes’ traditional qualities – a classy interior, impressive quality and good looks – and condenses them into a convincing small car package. With base ex-showroom prices ranging between Rs 28.3 lakh and Rs 29.3 lakh, this facelifted model represents good value by adding new equipment and refreshed styling with virtually no hike in prices.
Sure it’s not as practical as the BMW 1 Series or the Volvo V40 (Read: Cramped rear seat, high window line), though considering how popular the old A-Class was in its class, Mercedes is only bound to find more takers for this decidedly improved facelifted model.