2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Launch Review

Tony O'Kane | 17 Comments

2013 MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS REVIEW

What’s hot: Value for money, great range of engines
What’s not: Brittle ride on run-flats, claustrophobic rear seats
X-factor: The cachet of the three-pointed star adorning the nose of a classy, appealing small car.

Tested: A 180, A 200 BlueEfficiency, A 200 CDI BlueEfficiency, A 250 Sport

  • Price Range: $35,600 - $49,900
  • Vehicle Style: Small luxury hatch
Variants Reviewed
Model Power/Torque Fuel Use l/100km (Listed)
A 180 90kW/200Nm 5.8
A 200 Petrol 115kW/250Nm 6.1
A 200 Diesel 100kW/300Nm 4.6
A 250 Sport 155kW/350Nm 6.6 (8.5 tested)

Mercedes-Benz is onto a winner with the new A-Class range. We’ve driven every engine variant, and there isn’t a single dud among them.

Not only that, but all across the range are genuine value buys.

Like, want a premium German badge in your driveway for less than $40k? Mercedes-Benz is the marque for you, with the $35,600 A 180 undercutting the A3, CT 200h and 116i by at least $4000.

It’s no stripper model either, the A 180. It’s loaded with safety gear, and has things like reversing camera, Bluetooth telephony (including audio integration), active parking assist, nine airbags and an automatic transmission all as standard.

And this is just the base model. The story only gets better the higher up you go.

MORE: Read TMR's full A 250 Sport launch review

THE INTERIOR

Material quality is high, but in the A 180 there’s more than one hint that, yes, this is indeed the entry-point into Benz ownership.

The urethane steering wheel is evidence of cost-cutting, the fabric seat and door upholstery is another. But, by and large, the interior is well-made and solid.

There are lots of soft-touch surfaces on the dash, and the hard plastics on the centre console have a quality feel.

Seat comfort in the manually-adjusted cloth seats is good, and there’s lots of adjustment in both the seats and the steering column. The front seating position though feels rather low too - or maybe it’s because the window line seems so high?

In the back seat, there’s decent leg and knee room, but a shortage of headroom thanks to intrusion from the arching C-Pillar. Option the panoramic sunroof, and the rear seat feels even more claustrophobic.

The SLS-inspired gimbal air-vents are a nice touch, however they feel a little bit ‘loose’ when moved by hand. They’re the only real area of concern in terms of quality though, as the rest of the A 180’s switchgear and closures operate smoothly.

But safety is where the A-Class really excels.

There’s a wide array of safety features fitted as standard, including nine airbags (front, front pelvis, front head, rear side/head, driver’s knee), an anti-collision warning, Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe system, a reversing camera and a pedestrian-protecting active bonnet.

That’s in addition to the usual ABS, ESP, brake assist and hill-start assist.

It really is a well-featured car. The headlamps are dusk-sensing, rain-sensing wipers are standard-issue and so is cruise control, start-stop, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloys and front and rear parking sensors.

There’s even a self-parking feature, also standard across the range.

Move up into the A 200 or A 200 CDI, and you gain artificial leather upholstery on the seat bolsters and door trims, along with a diamond-patterned dash pad, Nappa leather upholstered steering wheel, auto-dimming rear-view mirrors, electric lumbar support and a sportier-looking instrument cluster.

The wheels are also upgraded to 18-inch alloys and the wing mirrors gain an electric folding mechanism. There’s also an additional exhaust pipe sprouting from the rear bumper.

Both the A 200 and A 200 CDI cost $40,900, mirroring Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class strategy of pegging diesel models at the same price as their petrol equivalent.

2013 mercedes benz a class launch review 05

When nearly every other manufacturer (not just luxury carmakers) charge hefty premiums for diesels, it’s refreshing to see Mercedes give their customers a choice of engine without financial penalty.

In the range-topping (until the A 45 AMG arrives) A 250 Sport, there’s different trim, red-ringed air vents, red contrast stitching, microfibre seat and door trim, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and red seatbelts, all making for a sportier vibe inside.

A panoramic sunroof is standard in the A 250, as are bi-xenon headlamps and privacy glass.

All A-class models have a boot capacity of 341 litres - about the norm for a small hatchback. The rear seats have a 60:40 split, but we wouldn’t describe the A-Class’ load carrying capability as being especially huge.

ON THE ROAD

We’ve previously sampled the A 250 Sport, so we’re not going to detail its on-road abilities here (see our A 250 drive report). But most will find that the A 180 has ample power for the daily drive.

With 90kW and 200Nm - certainly not large numbers - it nevertheless manages to feel ‘just right’: neither too slow, nor too fidgety, nor too soft.

Sure, when the drive selector is in Eco mode, it can feel a tad sluggish, but throttle response sharpens up dramatically in Sport mode.

But whichever the mode, the seven-speed twin-clutch 7G-DCT automatic rarely puts a foot wrong with gear selection, and, unlike some twin-clutch transmissions, handles standing starts as smoothly as a conventional auto.

For the A 180, fuel efficiency is a key selling point. With a listed average fuel economy figure of just 5.8 l/100km, it’s a fuel miser for sure.

Ride quality on the A 180’s standard 17-inch wheels is good, albeit with some brittleness on high-frequency bumps - a result of the standard-issue run flat tyres.

Turn-in is sharp though, and, although there’s noticeable body roll, the A180 corners very well for a luxo-hatch. It’s not far behind the rear-wheel-drive BMW 116i for cornering composure.

The brakes are reassuringly strong too. As far as all-round ability goes, the A 180 is a very well-sorted thing.

It’s a similar story with the A 200 petrol. With 115kW and 250Nm from a more highly-tuned version of the A 180’s turbo 1.6 petrol, the A 200 BlueEfficiency feels zippier.

When hustling along, it has no trouble handling steep grades without needing the gearbox to drop a ratio (or two) and accelerates eagerly when overtaking.

The third of this trio, the A 200 CDI, feels especially strong thanks to its 100kW/300Nm 1.8 litre turbodiesel.

Its extra muscle however comes at the cost of a gravelly - and surprisingly intrusive - engine note. If you value peace and quiet, maybe stick with the petrol engines.

Both A 200 variants handle well and are nicely balanced on-road despite their compact dimensions. Each has a slightly firmer on-road feel than the A 180 due to the 18-inch rolling stock down below.

They’re certainly well-engineered: there’s barely a trace of torque steer or wheel spin - even in the torque-laden A 200 CDI.

FIRST DRIVE VERDICT

We were knocked over by the A 250 Sport - we reckon it’s one of the best hot-hatches of the moment. But after driving the full A Class range, we’d have to pick the A 180 as the sweetest deal.

It’s no pocket rocket, but throw the optional AMG Sport Package at it ($1990) and you have a very appealing premium hatchback that still retails for well under $40k.

It will get you around town in good comfort, stick to the road when you need it to and sip - rather than skol - petrol.

More importantly (for some, maybe), is that it proudly wears a three-pointed star on its front grille. Want to impress your neighbours without breaking the bank? This should do it.

But don’t discount the A 200 variants - they’re also value buying - and the A 250 Sport is a steal at $49,900.

With this combination of pricing, specification and desirability, we reckon the 2013 A-Class is going to sell like hotcakes.

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • 2013 A 180 1.6 petrol - $35,600
  • 2013 A 200 1.6 petrol - $40,900
  • 2013 A 200 CDI 1.8 diesel - $40,900
  • 2013 A 250 2.0 litre petrol - $49,900

Follow Tony O'Kane on Google+

Filed under: Featured, review, Mercedes-Benz, petrol, diesel, Europe, turbocharged, hatch, 2013, fwd, A-Class, sport, performance, Germany, prestige, aims, small, lifestyle, mercedes-benz a-class, Advice, special-featured, enthusiast, 4cyl, 5door, 5seat, available, 40-45k, 35-40k, 45-50k, 2013my

Leave a comment:

Required
Required
Enter comment here.
  • Poisson says,
    1 year ago
    2 likes
    Nice write-up - thanks!

    As this car went through its long gestation I found myself wondering whether Daimler were dumbing down the breed, whether this would be a "true" Mercedes. Having now read the reviews, seen them in the flesh and sat in one (though not driven it) I think the answer is Yes, this is a true Mercedes. While the size and style may be a departure, the inherent quality and the emphasis on safety are true to the breed.
  • AUSDAVIDZ
    AUSDAVIDZ says,
    1 year ago
    3 likes
    How is this value, in Europe its the same coin as a Golf, base Golf not a GTi

    Might be frugal but no doubt needs PULP, there goes any saving

    Appaling head room, lack of

    No pictures of the boot/rear

    NO, and its FWD, go the BMW

    Did it pass the moose test or fall over like a drunken silor again?biggrin
    • MotorMouth says,
      1 year ago
      4 likes
      Who cares? If you can't see the value in it, buy something else. Prices in other markets are completely irrelevant. For what these cars have to offer, they are priced very, very well against their competition here. I reckon it's a cracking car at a very reasonable price.
    • Bill says,
      1 year ago
      5 likes
      Great car I own one checked out VW golf Gti and Siccrocco and Megane this car wins HANDS DOWN!!! $64,550 Driveaway. Plus all the usual Merc Percs.And it is fully optioned Yeh!
  • SON OF CAZZO says,
    1 year ago
    3 likes
    My concern is that will it be reliable and not cost a fortune to maintain. If you are moving from a Corolla to this you would be ecstatic until stuff started going wrong and you are faced with big repair and service bills. I wish MB well with this car, based on prior experiences with German cars I'd rather give it a miss.
    • Bill says,
      1 year ago
      3 likes
      You Obviously drive a Jap Car Yeh? Things can go wrong with corollas too? The corolla is not within a bulls roar of the A250 Sports. There is absolutely no comparison .Its like putting a Holden up against a Rolla.
  • merc not says,
    1 year ago
    This car is way overpriced for what you get...still paying for the merc badge....the options and delivery costs mean an A250 easily costs $65k to drive away with one or two options ticked.
    • Bill says,
      1 year ago
      8 likes
      No not true I have recently purchased a 250 sports fully optioned repeat fully optioned for $64550.00 drive away great car much better than anything else in this class.
      • CheaperJap4me says,
        1 year ago
        1 like
        Agree with Merc not, 65k is still too expensive for a hatch.
        • Mercedes Sing says,
          1 year ago
          3 likes
          In my country, the A200 cost about U$120k.
  • Marg Nathan says,
    12 months ago
    1 like
    We were so looking forward to a new A class BUT.
    If we blow a tyre half way to the shops we cannot get there with no spare 375km away. Run flat are useless in the country and space saver equally as stupid.
    my nearest tyre service is 375km so I will have to look elsewhere.
    Any car available in Australia should have provision for a proper spare tyre
    • Al says,
      7 months ago
      Buy a spare. If you live in the country you have to except that cars are built for the masses ie city folk or people who live within 100kms of one.
  • Ballymack says,
    10 months ago
    1 like
    in a dilemma to pick between 200 and 250..well I am not gonna run on a track  but I do need some fair amount of speeds on our highways.. Just concern about the noise level compared to the 250 and whether the ride is really that harsh... Please advice
  • jeffP says,
    9 months ago
    I'm 6'4" tall, leg room is plentiful. The sunroof is well over the drivers head so if you don't mind driving with your head 10mm off of the glass then this is one of the only small lux cars I can fit in.( A1,A3,X1,BMW 1,mazda6 all too small). Golf head room is better but the TDI looks POV compared to the A200d or GTI . I have not sat in am A series without a sunroof, is there more or less room ?
  • Henk says,
    4 months ago
    Well I don't know exactly how this car is introduced in your country, but in europe the a180 and a200 PETROL have exactly the same 1.6 turbo engine but the a180 is CHIP-detuned because of the co2 emmission and that's why it is cheaper because of the local taxes which are involved with co2 exhaust. I am talking about the standard versions, not the blue efficiency versions, these versions have other fuel injectors and transmissions.

    I am just saying that you can tune the a180 easily to a200 power just by a chip for a few bucks. Better take the a180 with some options instead of the a200
  • Bruce says,
    3 months ago
    We recently purchased an A180 primarily for my wife to drive and a month ago drove it on a long trip interstate. I have to say whilst my wife loves it, I think its an awful car and way overpriced compared to its competitors in that category. My main beef is that the drivers position is terrible (particularly if like me you are 6 ft 3 ins), first you can't see or read the heater/aircon controls, the cruise control lever is obscured by the steering wheel and you can't see the LIM light, but most disturbing is the gear lever placed on the right hand side of the steering wheel. This is downright dangerous if like me you are used to driving a non-european vehicle, it can be confused with the turning indicator and place the vehicle out of gear, a frightening experience when you are turning into traffic and they are bearing down on you whilst the car is just sitting there. I expect if you drive it long enough you will get used to these annoying problems, but in the meantime I will let my wife drive it. mad
    • Henk says,
      3 months ago
      Well thats an immobile option if you have a gear lever on your steering column in my country.The seats can be adjusted really far down, dont you have that option ? pull the lever downwards a few time. Steeringwheel can be adjusted in a position that you can see all what you want to see. In my amg exclusive package there is also electric lumbar support for your back and the there is a hidden comfort infrared option (few ppl know that). The windows, roof will close auto when you push the key button to close the car. Unfortunetaly these amg exclusive package was not available on the blueefficiency models that's why I chose the normal A180. When investing the car in de EPC catalogue it appears the a180 normal version is exactly the same as the A200, the injectors, turbo, clutch, exhaustsystem, engine, transmission, sparks have exactly the same oem partnumbers. So be smart, buy a normal A180 en tick the options you like for the price difference A200. The A200 is exactly the same car but pay a few thousands more because of the ecu (marketing)
Get the Latest

advertisement