THE new Mercedes A-Class is a completely different car to the one it replaces – a good looking, straightforward, family hatch rather than a small MPV.
I recently had a short drive in the standard A180 and the sports modified AMG diesel.
The 180 would be my preference of the two, because its ‘Comfort’ suspension is much more comfortable, but neither quite matches up dynamically to the Audi A3 or BMW 1-Series.
Power comes from a very smooth 1.6 petrol turbo which is happy to rev but pulls reasonably well from low speeds too.
The main departure for Mercedes fans is that the new car is front wheel drive – although in 95% of driving it makes no difference at all.
Performance is good, with a slick changing six-speed manual gearbox and a lightish clutch to help.
The road holding is good and grip excellent, but there is a little more roll than I would have expected in such a new design.
The base model comes with aircon, heated electric mirrors, four electric windows, good seat and steering adjustment and a CD stereo with aux and MP3.
The rear seats split-fold for extra space, it has Bluetooth, seven airbags and traction and stability control but alloy wheels are an extra.
Mechanical: 120bhp, 1,595cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 51
Insurance group: 18
CO2 emissions: 129g/km
BIK rating: 16%
Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited miles
Main rival: Audi A3