Mercedes Benz A 180 Sport Petrol

Posted on Sat ,24 Aug 2013 12:00 pm
Vaibhav Yedavi, Photos: AJN
Rating by CG: 
    
Mercedes Benz A 180 Sport Petrol

Introduction

 

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The first generation of the A-Class was launched by Mercedes-Benz in 1997. From the design front, it was a peculiar car from the brand considering that it was a front wheel drive and resembled a minivan.

The second generation, introduced in 2004, got significantly better in the areas of design and safety. This was a move from the German company to woo young buyers and that is when they decided to design a completely new series of cars with a new design language. This thought gave birth to the new Front Wheel Drive platform dubbed the MFA (Modular Front Wheel Drive Architecture) which the company uses in the current B-Class to the upcoming CLA sedan and the GLA crossover SUV not to forget this baby – the A-Class

In its third generation now, the A-class made its world debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor-show.  It was launched soon after that and garnered 90,000 bookings worldwide. Obviously, Mercedes saw the potential of this car in India too and they launched it here in May this year. But being a CBU meant that it drove prices north, but the A-Class thrashed all perceptions and zoomed past the 400 bookings mark in a span of just 10 days from its launch.

We catch up with this baby Mercedes to find out why Indians are getting obsessed with this luxury hatchback. 

Exterior

 

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When we say it’s a hatchback, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s small. Don’t be fooled by the dimensions of the car by just looking at the photos. The prefix that Mercedes does add here is ‘Luxury’ and that’s what the A-Class is all about. At 4292mm it is longer than a Mahindra Verito sedan by 22mm. So that makes it very big for a hatchback in India. Unlike other hatchbacks which are usually a cab forward mono-box design, the A-Class is a proper 2-box hatchback design.

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The most striking feature on the exterior of the car is the 302 piece diamond grille. The grille is a replica of the AMG grille found on the A45 AMG model sold internationally, and is unique to the cars sold in India.

Coupled with the eyebrow LED daytime running lamps, the front end attracts the most eyeballs from passer-by’s. The striking ‘Look at me’ red colour adds to all that drama. The car is very wide and sits low on some nice looking 17-inch alloy wheels.

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The roof swoops very low to the rear and while that adds to the design quotient of the car it subtracts some interior space (but more on that later). The side profile is flanked by a Nike logo-like swoosh. The car has very little greenhouse area but to compensate for that there is a huge panoramic sunroof available as standard on the petrol model.

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The rear gets a pair of very large exhausts which make a decent noise when the engine is revved. They add to the visual glamour at the rear. 

 

Interior

 

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Step inside and you are greeted by an all-black cabin. There is not much playing with colours in this cabin, and the black and metal combinations look high class. The cabin feels cosy and the suits the car’s sports moniker. The F1 inspired sports seats and the 3-spoke steering wheel just invite you inside the car and gets you all revved up to take it out for a spin. 

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The central console is dominated by a 14.7cm TFT screen on the top. The display shows audio playing, GPS maps and also acts as a reverse camera display. The driver seats get electrically adjusting option with 3 memory pre-sets. The front passenger seat gets manually adjustable controls. The driver seat ergonomics are spot on and the steering is manually adjustable for height and reach.

The rear seats are strictly for two adult passengers. A third passenger will be unwelcome because of a huge central tunnel and the rear AC vents. You must be wondering why there is such a huge tunnel in a front wheel drive car. Well the car is engineered keeping in mind all-wheel drive options (the A45 AMG is All Wheel Drive), so the huge tunnel design. So this car is strictly a 4-seater.

You remember the sloping roof design I talked about earlier and how it adds a dramatic design element to the car? Well, the issue is the very design eats up valuable headroom and passengers taller than 5’10” are better off in the front seat of the car.

The tyre noise does filter in the cabin which is very unusual for a Mercedes car.

The car has 341-litres of cargo space and thanks to a 60:40 split seat option it can be increased to 1157-litres. All-in-all the details scream sporty from every corner of the car. Mercedes has put the space saver tyre in the boot and it occupies a lot of space which could have been better utilised.

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Engine

 

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The A-Class petrol comes powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine which produces 120-bhp @ 5000rpm and 200Nm of torque @ 1250-4000rpm. Transmission duties are handled by a 7-speed Dual clutch transmission which is Mercedes-Benz’s in house development. To be honest the gearbox is a bit lazy and takes its own sweet time to change gears. Even in Sports mode!

There are 3 modes in which you can operate the gearbox - Economy, Manual and Sports. In Economy mode, the gearbox changes gears at around 3500rpm and for a normal person this is the only mode he needs. In Manual mode you have complete control of the gear shifts, but to truly make things exciting, there is the Sports mode. In this mode the car transmission shifts only at the-redline. You can downshift in any of the modes using the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel.

The Sports mode is the enthusiast mode, but mind you, the car turns into a heavy drinker. You can hear the exhaust ring a merry tune and it doesn’t sound as good as an AMG but its pure, raw power that sings to the note of your foot.

0-100kph is dealt within 9.2 seconds and the car will reach its top speed of 202km/h. Unlike other vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, the A-Class at any speed north of 100km/h makes you constantly aware of the speed you are at.

Ride & Handling

 

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The A-Class is sprung stiffly and comes with 17inch wheels shod with ultra-low profile 225/45 tyres. This is not a combination which is suitable for the moon craters that are now, Indian roads. But surprisingly, the car rides well. Yes, at ultra-low speeds the A-Class feels a little jiggly and because of the low ground clearance you have to be careful over speed breakers and very rough roads. But once the speed picks up, the A-Class behaves like any other Mercedes-Benz vehicle, it stays flat at speeds and apart from extremely bad surfaces nothing seems to upset the vehicle.

The handling is surprisingly neutral for a front wheel drive vehicle. The steering is precise and light, suitable for traffic conditions. 

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Conclusion

The A-Class has high quality interiors, a fairly decent ride and a solid build quality you can associate with a Mercedes-Benz product. The engine could do with a bit more power though. The design is youthful and the dimensions of the car suit our dense traffic roads the best. So if you always wanted the 3-pointed star in a small package, this is it.