By Patrick James on 2018-10-07 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Mercedes-Benz A 180d
CLIMB into the new Mercedes A-Class and you would think you have stepped into a top end luxury machine.
That is because the baby Merc's interior is based on the luxury limousine S Class, with all the bells, whistles and innovations - like themultifunction steering wheel, seat climate control and massage function.
Not so much a baby any more, the latest model is wider and longer, yet sleeker than its predecessor and is more aerodynamic, the most aerodynamic on the market according the Mercedes.
With its sleek sculpted lines, low bonnet, flat LED headlamps and striking radiator grille with the iconic three-pointed star, it is very much recognisable as a Mercedes.
Having said that, the interior is almost unrecognisable.
It is a bit of a masterclass of design. It now features two seven-inch touch screens, a first for Mercedes, which dominate the dashboard giving a cockpit-like appearance, something similar to Audi and VW.
Major features like connectivity, infotainment and navigation with real time updates are controlled via the MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience and ‘Hey Mercedes' which uses intelligent voice recognition to control key features.
In addition these features can be controlled via a new touchpad on the centre console and multi-function steering wheel.
The AMG Line specification on this model adds 18-inch AMG alloy wheels; AMG bodystyling; classy microfibre upholstery and the three-spoke sports steering wheel.
Another neat touch are the sporty air vents which have a turbine-look and glow with the ambient lighting in the cabin.
It's hard to fault any of the interior, you even get used to the automatic gearshift on a stalk behind the steering wheel. Luckily there was no wet weather, as the wiper control is on the same stalk as the indicator.
Other classy touches include the knurled chrome wheel-type controls, on the central console and on the steering wheel.
It feels much more spacious than its predecessor and has come a long way since the first A-Class was introduced. There is more shoulder, elbow and headroom plus easier access to the rear.
Boot space has also increased by 29 litres taking maximum load capacity to 370 litres, increasing to 1,200 with the seats down. The boot opening is now 20cm wider.
In addition the oddments compartment is now bigger and there is a cup holder on the centre tunnel for mugs, cans and bottles up to 0.5 litres.
This model featured a thrifty 1.5-litre diesel engine, producing 116bhp and mated to a seven-speed, dual clutch automatic gearbox.
Acceleration is not stunning but brisk enough, hitting 60mph in around 10.5 seconds. The big things is the fuel economy and while the claimed 68.9mpg seemed ambitious it was definitely in the mid 50s mpg, with lowish emissions of 111g/km.
It is a smooth drive, the dual clutch switching the gears smoothly, while the speed sensitive steering is weighted and precise. The engine is quiet enough and the only real intrusion is road noise on lesser surfaces.
Drivers can select different drive modes with Merc's Dynamic Select standard equipment and at the touch of a button, Sport mode sharpens up engine and suspension response.
The suspension feels fine, but the torsion beam rear set up means it can bang noisily over bumps and potholes.
It is packed with safety kit, including full range of airbags, stability control, parking camera, lane and speed limit assist, active braking and adaptive cruise control.
Mercedes-Benz A 180d AMG Line
Mechanical: 116bhp, 1,461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 68.9
Insurance Group: 13
C02 emissions: 111g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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