For ‘A’ dults ONLY
THERE’S A NEW MICRO CAR FROM GERMANY, AND TO OUR SURPRISE, IT ISN’T ALL THAT ‘MICRO’. BUT DOES IT HAVE ALL THE GUSTO IT TAKES TO HAVE A CRACK AT THE MACRO INDIAN AUTOMOTIVE MELEE? WE SAMPLE ONE AND COME BACK GRINNING FROM EAR-TO-EAR.
Photography: Shameer Asif M E
“The Science of Sex Appeal”. I happened to watch this show over the Discovery Channel. What is Sex Appeal? Scientist – Carrie Johnson has determined certain shapes that drive us wild. They invented a study wherein a man’s eyes are always focused while staring at a girl(Girls may cease to notice). But in a motorhead’s case, we often fall for wheels over heels. Pretty obvious, this. And let’s take the A Class for instance, instead of the wild girls and their sexy curves. It is one car that oozes sex appeal. I would say, it is by far, the best looking hatch around the world. Oh, yes, you can bet on that!
Look at this car from any angle, and she instantly looks hotter than Kim Kardashian. If you ask me, yes – this is one of the best front-end designs I’ve ever encountered. During my test drive, I swear, I spent an endless amount of time gazing at her from outside rather than driving her. There are a number of different options available for the grille mesh design and bumper, depending on what variant you purchase. One thing Mercedes doesn’t offer with the A-Class is the traditional three-pointed star mounted on the end of the bonnet. The ‘Avantgarde’ grille with the large three-pointed star occupying the entire centre of the grille is standard: another break from tradition. The headlamps are edgy, but look closely, and there’s too much detail as compared to the clean lines of the rest of the car; it seems untidy until they are switched on – the running lamps add a touch of wedged appeal to the design, making it more purposeful.
The A-class mirrors the segment norm, in being a 4.3-metre-long small family car that’s easier for potential buyers to understand. The silhouette is flawless, smooth and that sharp line which starts from the front bumper grabs your attention. ‘Lust’ is one word, which I would use to describe the feel this car builds in me. The extra-long spoiler on the roof which is linked with the rear glass is short and wide; this makes the car look compact with a good stance, and gives it strong ‘shoulders’ from the rear. All versions of the car get two exhausts, one on each side at the rear, regardless of what is under the hood. The projector headlamps and LED tail-lamps are standard across the range, which adds to the premium feel of the car. If the regular ‘A’ builds-up serious lust among us males, then I can merely imagine what we’d come to think of the AMG Sport version – which, to me, is an A-Class with larger cojones.
Get into the front seat, and you feel cocooned in luxury. Everything is familiar, with the steering controls, audio head unit and COMAND controller looking all too similar. What is new to the A-Class is the display screen mounted on top of the dashboard and the AC vents. The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel is precise and you will love the leather stitching. The driver’s seat is electronically-controllable, while the co-driver’s seat is manually operated. The second row isn’t all that spacious, but getting in and out is not a big deal. There’s enough room for two at the back, while three might find it a squeeze. Though a decent amount of boot space of 341- litres is offered with split and foldable rear seats.
Typical Merc quality stuff inside the A Class
Under the hood, our test car had the petrol engine – a 1595cc unit that makes 123PS and 200Nm with the help of turbo-charging and direct injection. The common-rail diesel A180 CDI makes 109PS and a very healthy 250Nm from 1796cc mill. In terms of efficiency, the petrol- engined Merc returned a mileage of 10kmpl overall, and the A Class diesel’s efficiency is at an impeccable average of 20kmpl. The petrol feels like a diesel in many ways: peak power arrives at 5000rpm, and peak torque is available at an astonishing 1250rpm. The car feels steady at top speeds and the build quality is undoubtedly Mercedes. There’s a slight growl when the engine approaches the red line, but subsequently it fades away. The 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox is one of the first dual-clutch ‘boxes. Shifts are quick and seamless, and offer manual downshifts in any mode via paddle shifters.
The suspension is good enough, but the overtly supple action of the suspension is bit of an issue. What happens is, you will damage the body at times when you drive her through the bumps, especially because of the 165mm ground clearance. It’s not a bad number though, but the skirts happened to graze easily, since the suspension is not stiff enough.
The A class is a front-wheel drive car, while BMW, on the other hand, has always been a driver’s car. In a Merc, we prefer being chauffeured around, but undeniably, we would love to grip the wheel of a BMW. When Merc launched the ‘A’, BMW stuck its head up a bit and brought their 1- Series to India. And for God’s sake, it’s a rear-wheel drive car, Mercedes-Benz! I hope you’re reading this. Ask any motorhead out there, and they will make you understand why rear-wheel drive cars are the best; ranting on-and-on about how it would paste a smile on face. And so now, the ‘1’ has arrived, and will be a real threat to the ‘A’. In short, the ‘A’ stands mighty in the looks and interiors department, while the ‘1’ is a proper rear- wheel drive car that gives you the thrills. Lust or thrills?
Brand Name: Mercedes Benz
Model: A Class
Variant: A180 Sport
Price: Rs. 28 lakhs
Engine Type: Inline 4 cylinder DOHC Petrol
City / Highway fuel economy: 10/15 kmpl
Maximum Power: 122bhp@3200RPM
Maximum Torque: 200Nm@1250RPM
Layout: Front wheel drive
Gear box: 7 speed Automatic
Length x width x height: 4292x1780x1433mm
Kerb Weight: 1395kg
Ground clearance: —
Boot volume: 341 litres
Seating capacity: 4
Fuel tank: 50 litres