Mercedes-Benz A-Class - first impression

A as arrived?

The Stuttgart new start in the compact car class. 

You rarely experience a generation change within a model class of a manufacturer, in which the name remains the same - but the entire vehicle concept is thrown overboard and the successor is completely new on the road.

Mercedes-Benz has done just that with the “New A-Class” and is now presenting an A-Class that is happy to be with you "A for attack" described, but rather has to answer the question: "A as arrived"? Has the industry leader Golf arrived in the compact car class? Or rather:  “A like alone”Under BMW 1 Series, Golf and Audi A3?

Mercedes-Benz A-Class W176 - A first short driving impression

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  • Hazards:  W176 |  A200 gasoline AMG Sport, A220cdi diesel AMG Sport, and A250 gasoline engines AMG Sport,
  • Market opening:  Sales start on June 15.06.2012, 1 - Deliveries from September 2012, XNUMX
  • Base price from:  23.979€ 
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  • Period:  Friday and Saturday 6./7. July 2012
  • Location:  Ljubliana / Slovenia
  • Dangerous route approx .:  150km (simply not enough!)
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The new A-Class, everything is different. All things new! But also: "A like arrival"?
The new A-Class, everything is different. All things new! But also: “A like arrival”?

Body: A like architecture?

The two previous generations of the new A-Class already gave the impression that they require a prescription and are therefore only suitable as medical aids for people with poor eyesight, back problems and osteoarthritis of the elderly - the new A-Class generation now breaks completely with this "first" Impression".

After years of ignorance, Mercedes-Benz is daring a completely new start in one of the most important vehicle segments for the German premium manufacturers. The compact car was not reinvented "at Daimler", rather copied according to good Chinese custom. But it turns out again and again: One does not become particularly successful by reinventing the wheel - but by optimizing the existing one.

The “New A-Class” does everything differently than the previous generations, apart from the front-wheel drive - but above all it does a lot better than before. Nevertheless, the all-round view suffers from the change in concept, but Mercedes-Benz accepts this - because the target group has long got used to the fact that thick A-pillars, wide B-pillars and fat C-pillars massively restrict the unobstructed view in all directions. Mercedes has now also dared to approach the rear window with an embrasure look and has also achieved the current class status here. You understand that the switch to compact car standards and the move to the established solution doesn't necessarily make everything better as long as you look at the body structure alone.

A-class rear view - Suchbild: Where is the Daimler?
A-Class rear view - search image: Where is the Daimler?

Drive: A how to get started?

Welcome to the new motor wonderland. Mercedes-Benz doesn't make the mistake of bringing “old engines” into the A-Class. Consistently charged and with a fireworks display of engine technology, the aim is to make the buyer of the new A-Class happy. Is this successful? Can Mercedes-Benz do more than just “diesel”?

The first driving impression in the A200 with dual clutch transmission is mixed. The four-cylinder petrol engine, known internally as the M270, forms the basis for all 3 petrol engines currently on offer and is available in 2 displacement variants. Either 1.6 liter displacement and 122 HP (A180 BlueEFFICIENCY) or 156 HP (A200 BlueEFFICIENCY) or as 2 liters with 211 HP in the variants “BlueEFFICIENCY” or A250 Sport.

With a displacement of just 1.6 liters, the desire for “sporty” locomotion will be difficult to fulfill - even in the case of the 156hp A200. Here the new A-Class plays more of the role of the sensible premium compact. Even with the AMG package, the A200 impresses more with intelligently packaged inner values ​​than with sporty sensory overload in the area of ​​driving dynamics. In other words: the A200 with AMG package is simply a sham package and a sporty premium blender with a sexy look package. Accordingly, the A200 with the optional 7-speed can move deliberately “more quietly” and the surcharge for the AMG package can confidently be invested in other comfort equipment items.

In E mode, the 7-speed dual clutch transmission skilfully hushes up the technical origin and, emphasized, plays the role of a comfortable automatic transmission. The S mode of the transmission, a tightened pace and high engine speeds help to recognize the dual clutch transmission as such, whereby the comfort concept is never completely suppressed.

Manko: Even in manual mode, the transmission automatically shifts to the next gear when you accelerate and reach the speed limit. It is to be hoped that the upcoming A45 will not take on this quirk of paternalism.

Much sportier, the combination of the 170 hp A220cdi diesel with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission and the AMG sports package. Something like “active driving fun” does indeed arise here. Especially in S mode and even more specifically in the “partly” manual M mode, the former retiree assistant becomes a compact car that can be driven in a sporty and active manner. Congratulation. The “New A-Class” surprise has already succeeded at this point.

Comfort: “A for pleasant”?

Veni, vidi, come back. The best or nothing. In Stuttgart one has learned from the criticism of the customers of the surfaces and the processing from the first generations - but one keeps a respectable distance to the premium segment leader of the compact cars.

Above all doubt: The seating position in the “New A-Class”. No matter whether small or large, whether thick or thin. Both the optional sports seats in the AMG package and the adjustment options in the area of ​​the steering wheel are basically suitable for achieving a perfect seating position for every type of driver. The chassis of the AMG package, however, does not match the performance of the currently, presumably deliberately positioned in the midfield and 156PS strong A200 gasoline engine. Too tight, too dry and simply not enough “Daimler compact cars”. The picture changes abruptly if you combine the A220 diesel or the A250 petrol engine with the AMG chassis. With the growth of motor power, the demands of the driver on the chassis increase and - completely untypical of the “Daimler compact car” - it suddenly becomes fun to drive the smallest Benz on mountain roads and country roads of the second order. Fast, faster - A250AMG.

In the interior, the aging process has led to a makeover for the third generation. Sounds absurd - but convinces with a fresh design and contemporary design language.

A-Class Instruments - Coated carbon design in the middle. Useful display solution between the round instruments
A-Class instruments - Coated carbon design in the middle. Useful display solution between the round instruments
A class ventilation ducts - art in detail
A-class ventilation nozzles - art in detail

 

dynamics: A like the beginning

Probably the greatest challenge for the A-Class. Become emphatically dynamic. That wasn't possible with the old concept. The center of gravity is too high, the track is too narrow. The conceptual restart provides completely new opportunities and in the case of the combination of a small engine and “dynamic AMG chassis”, the A-Class can be said to have overshot the mark.

However, as soon as you roll under the hood with steam to the start, the A-Class, which is still powered by the wrong - because in front - meets the GTI wish. Sporty with fair toughness and dynamic with impressive “dedication” in implementing the driver's wishes on the steering wheel. With an emphasis on happy feedback, the front axle impresses with active fun working on the steering wheel. The rear axle of the new A-Class, which will only be used for the drive with the launch of the A45, can perfectly play the role of the “auxiliary worker” for the effective work of the chassis package thanks to an elaborate multi-link axle construction.

Active driving safety is one of the favorite playgrounds of Mercedes-Benz technicians, clearly documented by the first performance tests on the closed-off track during the presentation of the new A-Class. And yet, in Stuttgart, the last instance of driving safety is still not left to human beings and the strategy of an ESP system that can only be deactivated to a limited extent remains. Here too - the hope that the A45 will get full control dies last.

The new A-class, juvenile enough?
The new A-class, juvenile enough?

Environment: A classification or A +?

A-Class patented Radkanten spoiler - Clever ideas for an optimal cW value!
A-class patented wheel edge spoiler - clever ideas for an optimal drag coefficient!

Efficiency and low NEDC consumption, the pressure is high in this important area and so Mercedes-Benz had to come up with something special for the completely new A-Class. With a drag coefficient of 0,27, you can definitely be proud of in the compact car class. With the future efficiency prime of the A-Class, the A180 BlueEFFICIENCY, a value of 0,26 will be achieved. A low drag coefficient helps to keep consumption low, especially on German motorways.

With around 1.400kg, the A-Class does not play the ultimate lightweight in the round of compact cars. On the contrary - there should be 150kg less that you take with you on your daily trip. (But here the author of the text may not go too deep, first lower their own curb weight ..)  But even here, would have a less weight, for less consumption. There is room for the successor, among other things by weight reduction to radiate.

The presentation time was too short for consumption trips - you can read the factory specifications according to the NEDC standard on the manufacturer's page - you can ask critically whether you get the correct specifications! The sensible A200cdi versions can serve as an example: 4.3 to 4.6 liters in the combined NEDC consumption. In any case, an economical house number - only a driving test can produce realistic consumption values.

Cost: A how expenses?

With the star on the hood, the vehicle becomes more expensive. An old wisdom of car buyers at the regulars' table will not be discarded with the restart of the Stuttgart compact car fleet. In addition to the “premium surcharge”, a supposed Swabian flat rate is added to the purchase price. If the Swabians are assumed to be stingy, one shouldn't be squeamish when buying a new car from the state capital of Baden-Württemberg.

With the starting price of 23.978,50 € for the A180 BlueEFFICIENCY hardly an A-class from the factory will dare. Much more realistic here is the approach to the purchase price of an A200cdi of 27.786,50 € to add a surcharge of 25% for extras and optional extras and thus adjust to around 34.000 €.

 

Max. 25 words, about:

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Design:

Finally an A-Class that is visually convincing. The rear may not speak a recognizable Mercedes language, but it also stands for the first real compact car from Stuttgart. [/ one_fourth] [one_fourth last = "no"]

Image:

Away from the pensioner mobile and the walking aid - towards the sporty premium compact? A brave step. Possibly even a necessary step. Definitely: exciting!
[/ one_fourth] [one_fourth last = "no"]

Performance:

There's something going on. In terms of previous A-Class standards, however, simply sensational. No 1 BMW fright, but Golf GTI level in the 211PS A250 Sport.
[/ one_fourth] [one_fourth last = "yes"]

Daimler'ishness

So far, Mercedes models have often been too convulsively coated with a “youth image”. The A-Class could position itself as a real young fountain. [/ one_fourth]

Has the A-Class arrived in the premium compact car segment?

Much of the new A-Class gives the impression that it is on the right track. You still have to get used to the “Golf silhouette” with a star, but the youngest offspring in the large Mercedes-Benz house has the talent to become a real competitor for BMW 1 Series and, above all, Audi A3.

The next steps within the new A family remain exciting. Hybrid, or plug-in hybrid? All-wheel drive also below the top variant A45? Station wagon and coupe? Sportback or SUV? Mercedes-Benz has just taken the right step into the compact car segment. Whether it was the right step for the previous target group - that too remains open for now.

 

[toggle title = ”Technical data at a glance”] - no data sheet available - follows after the first detailed test drive [/ toggle] [one_half last = ”no”]

Related Links:

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Blogger reports:

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[toggle title = ”Disclosure:”] The costs for travel and accommodation were covered by the manufacturer. However, my test result is not for sale and was therefore created without the manufacturer's influence or control!
Nevertheless: Thanks to Mercedes-Benz for the invitation. [/ Toggle]

Text / Photo: Bjoern Habegger | auto-bloggerei.de | 2012 |  by-nc-nd

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