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Merc’s A is an impressive piece of kit


THE ARRIVAL of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class was a revelation for many. In the flesh, at least, it’s beautiful. It’s strikingly beautiful, in fact, to the point that it demands your attention - like a runway model that stops you in your stride as she appears in your peripheral.

The curves embodied on this German beauty are stunning. And there’s no denying that small cars are the way of the future. With congested roads being as awful as they are and parking spots continuing to shrink, more people are finding solitude in little hatches and the A-Class is right up there on many levels.

Besides looking good, the A220 CDi, which we tested, had a phenomenal engine hidden beneath its finely sculpted bonnet. This derivative is only available with a 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission. The Euro 6 compliant oil burner boasts 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque. The result is a giddy drive, as the Merc delivers some spritely performance.

That said, the frugal nature of this turbocharged engine does allow drivers to achieve impressive fuel-consumption figures, depending on the drive mode you select. Merc claims the A220 CDi will sip just 4.4 litres of dinosaur fossils for every 100km and emit just 115g/km of Co2, which is reason enough to smile as it falls under the emissions-tax threshold.

Throw into the mix that the car can still scuttle from standstill to 100km/h in just 7.8 seconds and will continue on to a top speed of 227km/h and you begin to understand why this beauty seems to be the complete package.

It is, until you get behind the wheel. In all fairness, the cabin is glorious and well finished and it’s certainly driver focused, with all the dials easy to read at a glance. And despite its small physique, Merc’s engineers have worked their voodoo to make it spacious, with adequate headroom too.

The problem, however, is that Mercedes doesn’t make the most engaging and dynamic cars. So while the A220 CDi might be lower and more planted with its enhanced muscular looks, it doesn’t handle the way it should. The suspension is hard and leaves you walking crooked, especially if you find yourself driving on some of Johannesburg’s rougher roads. The handling is a let-down as it doesn’t feel as composed on the road as it looks and should be.

I still think Merc has done a remarkable job with this car and it’s certainly created a lot of hype when it was launched, much like the new A45 AMG has done.

But just like the new littlest AMG, the A220 CDi comes at quite a price. The base-spec version will set you back a whopping R384 500. That’s before you’ve added any niceties.

Mercedes-Benz worked hard to create this all-new, family friendly hatch with loads of class and a premium feel and people love it. Unfortunately, it has come with a premium price too.

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