All-New Mercedes A-Class Launch

BY Burnpavement

The previous Mercedes A-class was an innovative exercise in compact packaging and practicality, but suffered from ungainly looks and the results of the infamous Elk Test. Will the new one redeem it?

Photos: Joel Tam

The launch for the new Mercedes A-class was held at One Fullerton, with two cars on display for media and customers to inspect. Gone are the gawky, upright mini-MPV looks, replaced by a handsome 2-box shape.

Two models of the A-class will be available here, both powered by turbocharged 4-cyl engines: the 1.6-litre A200 with 156 hp and 250 Nm of torque, and the 2.0-litre A250 Sport with 211 hp and 350Nm. Claimed performance figures for both models are 8.3 s and 6.6 s respectively for the 0-100 km/h dash, and top speeds of 224 km/h and 240 km/h. Thanks to Mercedes' BlueEFFICIENCY engineering philosophy, both cars are rather fuel efficient at 5.8 and 6.4 l/100km, while CO2 emissions of 136 and 148 g/km ensure up to $10,000 in CEVS rebates.

The A-class has turned into quite the looker now, with a squat stance that will likely resonate with the younger crowd. The wide grille and wraparound headlamps give the car an increased sense of width, which, combined with the rising windowline and small glasshouse, make the car appear to be hunched down, waiting to pounce forward. Buyers who opt for the A250 Sport model can expect a more aggressive AMG-styled bodykit that features a deeper chin spoiler with red accents and a rear diffuser with twin tailpipes, that will look very similar to the upcoming A45 AMG.

The sportier theme continues inside, with part-leather sports seats front and rear, honeycomb or carbonfibre-effect trim for the dashboard, flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles on the Sport model, and air vents that resemble those found on the SLS AMG (or, if you're feeling uncharitable, the '80s W123 saloon). A panoramic sliding sunroof is also an option to allow more light and a greater sense of space into the cabin.

As befits the status of a modern Mercedes, the A-class comes loaded with many active and passive safety aids. Attention Assist can detect when a driver feels drowsy or starts becoming inattentive and can then recommend him taking a short break, while Collision Prevention Assist senses with a car in front of you slows down or stops, and will warn you of impending collision. This system will also automatically adjust the braking force to avoid a collision, for example if the driver is not applying sufficient pressure on the brake pedal. Also as standard comes 7 airbags, including curtain and knee bags, as well as ABS and ESP. Furthermore, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist are available as options to warn drivers if they're drifting out of their lane or if there is another vehicle in the blind spot while changing lanes.

At the latest COE prices, the A200 will go on sale for $172,888, while the A250 will cost $199,888. A sales manager at Cycle & Carriage reported strong interest for the car, but the volatile COE prices may mean that many customers will hold back orders for the time being.