2013 Mercedes A class (A 180 Sport) – Road Test Review Report

      

It is raining outside and there is nothing more pleasant than going out in the rains. So, put on your favorite shoes, and move out. Hold on, don’t grab your car keys. Just leave them on the table and walk towards a nearby park. You haven’t done this many times, have you? The intention of putting in this way is to let you know how much we Indians love hatchbacks. Our eyes are flooded with a whole bunch of hatchbacks around us. Red, blue, white, black, classy, cheap, fast slow, some big like Chevy SRV, and some small like TATA Nano. The mighty German, Mercedes-Benz, also wants a slice of this cake, but in its own way. A premium and classy way, and so comes the A class. Its not a typical made for India product; the roots originate from its baseland Germany. 1997 Frankfurt auto show, the first time it was introduced to the world. Building up on the first generation and making it more advanced, the current gen A class joined its family of hatchbacks just before the B class.

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2013 Mercedes A class

While Mercedes-Benz’s rivals are playing a different ball game and introducing crossovers like Audi Q3, and BMW X1, they surely have made a bold move by introducing a hatchback at a premium pricing. India loves hatchbacks much more than its SUVs and crossovers. A love so blind that it doesn’t stop us from buying a freakishly over priced hatchback. If u don’t believe us, just look at the number of bookings this hatch has clocked within 10 days of its launch. The car comes in as a CBU, which is the main reason behind its astronomical pricing. Nevertheless, it has already been appreciated by 400 luxury segment buyers who are looking for another premium car at their doorsteps. Impressed by the such a response, Mercedes-Benz have given a thought into bringing this car as a CKD and reducing the price to appeal to more people.

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2013 Mercedes A class

Mercedes-Benz launched A class in India on the 30th of May 2013. Since then we were eager to give our readers, an exclusive comprehensive test drive report and here we are. Team ICB’s test spanned from the ghats of Lavasa to some of the roughest terrains of Mulshi. On the winding roads of Amby Valley to the straights of Mumbai-Pune express way, covering a total distance of 600 kms. We got to know every minute detail about the car, how it feels and how it behaves, so sit back and enjoy our comprehensive review.

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2013 Mercedes A class front

Lets start with the styling department. A class is the only car from Mercedes-Benz India which comes with the new diamond grill. Yes, that’s the most defining feature of the car and one that easily gets attention of onlookers. Chrome hexagons that the grill is made up of, reflects light in a way that makes it looks catchy from every angle.

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Close look at Mercedes A class Diamond grill

Wrap around headlamps improve aerodynamics while following the character line well. DRL and LED indicators are placed one above the other with a 3 inch Bixenon main beam at the centre, all of which boasts Mercedes-Benz on its shroud.

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2013 Mercedes A class headlamp

Front fenders are designed to do its purpose of reducing lift forces and directing air efficiently to the lower body of car, keeping styling department top notch. On the sidelines,  A class’ A pillar looks sleek and flows elegantly towards C pillar while growing in thickness adding solidity to the design.

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2013 Mercedes A class side profile

While looking at the A class from side, you can’t help but notice its beautiful 5 spoke alloys. Large sheet metal doors have another line that adds character to the overall looks, as well as improves strength of sheet metal in case of a side crash. The car looks much like a compact luxury hatch and small in size, but is bigger than some of the C segment sedans. We compared this car to a Hyundai Verna, and it comes out to be longer in wheelbase but the overall length is pretty much the same.

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Size comparison of A class and Hyundai Verna

Moving to rear end, tiny boot accompanied with LED, C shaped tail lamps look fabulous. Sharp lines from tail lamps merge into the boot lid, all flowing towards the famous tri star. Rear spoiler is integrated well on the boot lid and the chrome tail pipes are prominently visible from the rear. Black plastic cladding below the painted bumper gives a feeling of high ground clearance. Car designers tend to concentrate more on front end and by the time they reach the rear, its more like a formality. But this car is different, it wins here too.

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2013 Mercedes A class read end

The car has got top notch interiors too. As soon as you enter the car, the first thing you will notice are the air vents. They are not the regular ones which you find in a C or an E class. These are much similar to B class and were first seen in the SLS AMG.

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2013 Mercedes A class interiors

The 3 air vents makes a unique layout for the HVAC department. A screen with GPS unit is placed exactly in center of the dashboard and is protruded out to give you all the info at a glance. A small rear window is a compromise with visibility, which is bothersome in traffic and when parking, but a reverse parking camera on free standing COMAND interface makes up for it.

Soft foam type material on split dashboard with leather stitching makes it “A” class apart. Selection of drive modes is done with levers, just like in the E class. This is the new transformation that Mercedes-Benz is bringing in all its cars.

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Driver side interiors of Mercedes A class

A leather wrapped 3 spoke steering wheel with aluminium inserts makes it look sporty. The steering wheel is firm to hold and feels rich. Sporty pedals are slightly offset, but this is made up for by the fantastic driving position. Like most of the Mercedes cars, seat adjuster unit is fitted on the side doors alongside window switches. The entire arrangement is ergonomically placed and is common in most of the Mercedes cars like the C class and E class.

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Co-driver side Mercedes A class interiors

The co-driver seat is omitted from power functions and only heater is available. Rest of the adjustments has to be made manually. The glove box compartment is big enough to keep all your documents. Both the front passenger and driver get height adjustable seat belts for maximum safety.

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There are many storage compartments in the center console, including a bottle holder. Center console also holds a button to switch between car modes; ECO, Sport and Manual. The vehicle comes packed with safety features such as 7 airbags, 11 drive assistance systems, ESP , Traction control, electric parking brake, ABS, Brake Assist System and Hill Start Assist to name a few.

A huge arm rest next to the driver seat results in a comfortable driving position for driver. There is again a small storage bin placed inside the arm rest. Two 12v sockets, one at the start and one at the end of the center console adds to the utilitarian nature of the car.

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2013 Mercedes A class sunroof

Look at the roof and you will find a massive panoramic sunroof that comes as a standard fitment.

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Rear seat headroom in Mercedes A class

Rear seat legroom is ample but the bench lacks under thigh support especially for tall passengers. That said, we found the rear seat to be a tad bit smaller in length. Headroom is just sufficient for a six footer considering the fact that the car has got such a sleek roof line. Upright posture of rear seats could be a little discomforting on long drives. Rear seats also get ISOfix mounts (child seat mounts). All black interiors with sleek rear window gives the car a coupe-ish feeling.

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Mercedes A class rear seats

Only two adult can sit comfortably at the rear due to a floor hump running between the two seats. Rear passengers neither get an arm rest nor an adjustable headrest and have to compromise with just fixed ones. There is an adjustable headrest for the middle passenger which seems redundant.  Rear passengers also get their own AC vents which do their job really well.

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Mercedes A class bucket seat

Upfront, the bucket seats hold the driver firmly and headrests are integrated to the seats here, unlike C class and E class. This surely looks and feels sportier. The car comes with proper premium impressive runabout. It has got everything like its bigger siblings; a solid build quality, classy interiors, decent ride quality and a dash of youth fullness.

The boot, with its 341-litre capacity, is big by any hatchback standards. Unfortunately, that’s not true for the Indian variant, as some of the boot space is eaten up by a spare tyre that sits inside the boot rather than beneath it. Fold the seats and you have enough space to carry a full sized bicycle.

Engine and Driving Dynamics:

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Mercedes A class petrol engine

Our test car was A180 petrol with a 1.6 liter turbocharged petrol engine that produces 122 bhp with 200 Nm of torque. All that power is transmitted to the front wheels via a seven-speed, twin-clutch transmission. A class is the second car from Mercedes-Benz India to have front wheel drive architecture (MFA platform) after B class. Monocoque frame and suspension work by engineers make the car nimble to handle and gives you the confidence that the car can handle more power and still perform the same.

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2013 Mercedes A class

The free revving engine in the A class has enough grunt to please the person behind the steering. At low revs you don’t feel anything inside the car and the vibrations are well isolated. Overall the car gives you a smooth ride. As you rev up the engine, the connection between engine and throttle gets stronger. By basics of vehicle dynamics, a front engined front wheel drive cars (front heavy) are generally prone to understeer. But the A 180 with its transverse mounted engine and all its electronic trickery put together, sticks to its path very well. There is great front end grip and beautiful body control. We tested the car on the ghats of lavasa, and in every corner, we could hit speeds of 80-90kmph with the car holding down on the road firmly.  The steering is an electronic servo assisted unit with the electric motor now located directly on the steering gear as a dual pinion EPS system. Overall the car feels composed around the corners and the steering is precise.

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2013 Mercedes A class

The engine has a reasonable amount of mid-range power with little punch. It pushes you back into your seats as soon as the turbo starts spooling. The power delivery is linear with a power output of 122bhp and a peak torque of 200Nm. The car is low to the ground with a wheelbase of 2699 mm, keeping CG close to the ground for better handling. This low ground clearance turns into a pain at times, as it scrapes off the underbelly on tall speed bumps, a typical sight on Indian roads. Although the under-body is protected and you don’t really need to worry much about it.

The automatic gearbox has three modes—Economy, Sport and Manual; and the paddle shifts helps you in squeezing out maximum power out of the engine. As soon as you shift from Economy mode to Sport mode, the engine revs up by 500 and shift times get faster.  In sports mode, revs are kept at a higher level and don’t drop fast, making sure there is a seamless delivery of power. In Economy mode, start-stop function kicks in to save fuel in the petrol powered A class. 0-100 sprint is covered pretty fast, close to 9.5 seconds and the car goes all the way up to a speed of 190kmph, although the company claims it top speed to be 202 kmph. The 1.6 liter motor is not as smooth as other Merc trademark motors and it has some harshness added to it, maybe to give it a more sporty character. The brakes deserve a lot of praise and the A-Class has a well calibrated, sharp pedal with great stopping power.

Ride quality of the A class is decent, don’t expect it to be as good as C or E class. Mercedes cars are known for their superb ride quality, but the A class is more on the sporty side. It is concentrated more towards ride and handling rather than ride comfort. However, for most of the part, it handled our poor roads with aplomb, with low-speed ride being particularly good. The A-class is also incredibly stable on highways and offers decent ride quality.

With all that this car has to offer, there is still an itch for more power from the engine in the form of an optional variant at least (A45 AMG). It has got almost everything we like about  Mercedes-Benz,  high-quality interiors, a decent ride, a solid build quality. All said and done, the A class is a compact, premium hatchback that will set you back a cool Rs 22.73 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the petrol variant.

The good bits:

* Superb styling

* Sporty interiors

* Features offered

* Sharp brakes and  Solid build quality

* Tri star fascination

Whats not so good:

* Rear seat comforts

* Price tag due to CBU

 

Here is detail technical date of A180 Sport and A180 CDI

Technical Data

A 180 Sport

A 180 CDI

Engine and performance
Cylinder arrangement/number
In-line/4
In-line/4
Displacement (cc)
1595
2143
Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm)
90 at 5000
80 at 3200 – 4400
Rated torque (Nm at rpm)
200 at 1250 – 4000
250 at 1400 – 2800
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)
9.2
10.6
Top speed (km/h)
202
190
Fuel and consumption
Tank capacity/with reserve (l)
50/6
50/6
Chassis (standard) and wheels
Front tyres/wheels
225/45 R17
225/45 R17
Rear tyres/wheels
225/45 R17
225/45 R17
Dimensions and weights
Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) [1]
1395
1505
Perm. GVW (kg)
1920
2000
Boot capacity (VDA) (I)
341 to 1157
341 to 1157
Turning circle (m)
11
11

 

2013 Mercedes-Benz A180 Sport picture gallery

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