With the A-Class hatchback, Mercedes-Benz created a new segment for luxury hatchbacks in India. The luxury hatchback targets young professionals and enthusiasts in India. Seeing the positive response for the A-Class, BMW and Volvo too introduce their luxury hatchbacks 1 Series and Volvo V40 respectively. One of the most affordable luxury cars from the German luxury carmaker, the A-Class hatchback flaunts sophisticated yet sporty design and offers class leading performance.
The Mercedes A-Class looks extremely beautiful and the proportions give the car a very balanced and yet a sporty stance. There is something about this hatch that makes you want to keep staring at it, be it from any angle! This is just one of the few cars that manage to look good from all angles. The 2016 A-Class that we are sampling here has similar exteriors as the previous model, but on a closer look you do realise there are quite a few changes. First up, the vehicle gets redesigned bumpers, full LED headlamps, black finish for the grille and a concealed exhaust tip. The A-Class now comes with 16-inch wheels as standard and they are offered in a sporty shade of black. The A-Class also gets Mercedes’ new nomenclature and instead of being called A200 CDI, it is now called A200d. The premium hatchback also gets a new Elbaite Green colour which is a big attention seeker, though it has mixed reactions from people.
The cabin section gets a minimalistic changes and yet, it looks very pleasant with a theme of ultra luxury. The color scheme of the cabin has been refined to render a soothing effect to the eyes. This color scheme is complimented by ambient lighting and wood inserts on dashboard and center console. In addition to this, the steering wheel gets a new three-spoke design along with additional control switches. The seats are ergonomically designed and got some improvements with regards to its cushion depth. This will help to offer better comfort to the occupants inside. Both these variants have electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory function. The dashboard is neatly designed and is equipped with an instrument cluster, which has a number of functions, air conditioning system, music system and an advanced touchscreen infotainment unit. It is also fitted with a three spoke steering wheel, which is mounted with several multi-functional switches for convenience of its driver. Furthermore, there is a provision for incorporating gearshift paddles, which contributes towards desired driving experience. It is wrapped with leather upholstery and decorated with company’s badge in the center. The cabin is done up with extensive use of leather, especially for door panels, seats and dashboard, which gives a captivating look to the interiors. The front doors also have switches for adjusting seats and windows. The instrument cluster has a pair of round shaped meters and a multi-information display, which provides information relating to the vehicle’s speed, fuel consumption, an electronic tripmeter, a digital tachometer, service interval reminder and several other notifications.
The manufacturer has made no changes with regards to the comfort features and it retains all the equipments and facilities like its predecessor. Also, both the trims have been retained, but with new name for the diesel version. Its cabin is fitted with a proficient air conditioning system with dust filter, which regulates air temperature and keeps the ambiance pleasant. It also has rear AC vents for cooling the cabin in no time. The cabin is incorporated with a power assisted steering column, which is adjustable for height and length that adds to the convenience. Both variants have been bestowed with power windows (front and rear) featuring one touch control and obstruction sensors. This model series is also incorporated with an advanced instrument cluster that provides informatics like outside temperature, trip computer, fuel consumption, fuel gauge, distance traveled, vehicle speed, gearshift position, tachometer, driver’s seat belt warning and a few other notification lamps for keeping the driver updated. In addition to these, there are features like illuminated glove box compartment, inside rear view mirror with automatic dimming and dual front sun visors with illuminated vanity mirror. Furthermore, the car maker is also offering features like ECO start/stop function, direction indicators with one touch lane change function and folding rear seat back rest. In addition to all these, the car maker is also offering aspects like individual armrest for front passengers with stowage compartment, boot lighting, an additional spare wheel, TIREFIT with tyre-inflation compressor, rear center armrest with cup holder. Beside all these, this model series is also integrated with a reversing camera featuring dynamic guidelines, which provides excellent assistance to the driver while parking.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
No changes have been made to the mechanicals of the 2016 Mercedes A-Class. It continues to be powered by the familiar 2.1-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine. The oil burner is tuned to pump out 134 horses and 300 Nm of twisting force. Well, the car potters around at city speeds very comfortably and even though the engine lacks excitement, it does excel beautifully in delivering all the torque in an extremely linear fashion. Put pedal to the metal and the A200d will gallop across 0-100 km/hr in 9.04 seconds according to our extensive VBOX tests. Now, this timing isn’t too quick but it isn’t slow either.
Thanks to the linear power delivery, you always have enough power on tap but be sure that the motor will lose some of its steam post hitting the 3500 RPM mark. However, the oil-burner redlines at 4800 RPM. Top speed is claimed to be 210 km/hr. The engine doesn’t really like being revved and it delivers the best output when running in the mid range. The A-Class is good for cruising too, what with 100 km/hr coming up in 7th gear at a notch above 1500 RPM. If you’re giving it the beans, then the A200d hits the ton in 4th gear.
The motor is nicely refined but it gets slightly vocal at higher RPMs. The engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox which is very smooth and quick in its actions. The transmission does get a bit confused sometimes though and when you stomp the throttle while cruising, it does take a couple of seconds to figure out what gear to slot in. In D mode with normal throttle inputs, the engine upshifts at a notch below 2000 RPM while in S mode it goes all the way to the redline before upshifting. There are 3 different modes to choose from – Sport, Eco and Manual. The A-Class also has an Eco Start-Stop function which can be turned off manually while in manual mode you can make use of the steering-mounted paddle shifters.
RIDE AND HANDLING
It’s very Mercedes-ish to drive, and we mean that in a good way. The A-Class feels brilliantly solid and expensive – not bulky, just superbly built and cosseting. You’re isolated from the outside world to an astonishing degree. Road and wind noise are near non-existent, the A-Class hushing along like a far bigger, pricier machine. Bumps are absorbed expertly, miles are devoured with relish: as we say, just like a Merc. If you’re after a lithe, snappy rival to the BMW 1-Series, then, look elsewhere: it’s fun to drive, but in its own way. With multi-link rear suspension and quick, accurate steering, the A-Class is a nicely balanced thing to chuck about, but the front tyres run out of grip quickly and the whole experience is a bit remote.
It is very, very quiet though. When we drove the A 200 CDI, a 1.8-litre diesel, we kept bashing it into the rev limiter. Not because the four-cylinder diesel is particularly low-revving, but because it’s so well insulated that you’ve no idea it’s reaching its redline. You’ll be bashing into the red line of the rorty A45 for different reasons…
The A-Class luxury hatchback is equipped with a range of safety and security features including seven airbags, ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brake-Force Distribution) and Brake Assist, EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), front and rear fog lamps, engine immobilizer, reversing camera, etc.
The A-Class will open up a niche that hasn’t been present so far in the Indian market – that of the premium hatchback. The most expensive hatchback that has gone on sale in India was the Chevrolet SR-V, and that was too far ahead of its time. The competition has chosen to go the SUV way with the X1 and Q3, which is a more appealing proposition for the Indian consumer, who prefers a “bada gaadi” to a hatchback when it comes to premium offerings. The plant in Rastatt, Germany is running at full capacity – that’s how popular the A-Class is in the markets it is sold. The quality and aura of the three-pointed star will help sell the A-Class in the Indian market, but at Rs 20 lakh onwards, it will remain a niche product.