Review: Taking the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class for a drive
Sporty yet comfy
I first saw the new generation of Mercedes-Benz's A-Class at its launch in early March where its array of built-in features impressed me and the three beautiful models parked on display swiftly charmed me. Seeing may be believing but taking the wheel gives a more concrete feel of what the new Mercedes-Benz A 180 is like.
Personally, I've always preferred a compact-sized car especially since parking lots and car park ramps aren't exactly the most spacious in Malaysia. The A 180 is just the right size but with a sexy and sleek hatchback design with premium touches inside and out to give it an overall sporty, modern profile. As a whole, its new 4-cylinder 1.6 litre engine means the engine power isn't compromised either and is suitable for every day driving around and out of town. But as everyone has a different driving preference, the Dynamic Select is a great no-fuss system to enhance the driving experience, allowing the driver to easily change the car's characteristics at a touch of a button: Eco, Sport, Comfort and your own customised settings. The only downside is that the Eco mode, like a fair few vehicles out there with the same option, does blunt the throttle response slightly but hey, if it helps the environment, right?
The A 180's horsepower is sufficiently satisfactory but its most appealing factor is that it's literally and basically a smart car. It's not just the clever technology that has been installed but how everything has been built for the convenience of the driver. No complicated buttons as everything is basically multi-functional such the level that doubles as the gear and windshield wiper. Parking has been made easy with the Active Parking Assist and reverse camera as it automatically searches for a suitable parking space and parks itself while letting the driver retain control of the accelerator and brakes. The new revised LED lights at the front and rear, which is the biggest difference in the refresh of the A-Class, makes driving at night easier and safer thanks to its broad light distribution and a colour temperature approximating daylight.
While the A-Class has several driving assistance systems, the drowsiness detection system Attention Assist deserves an appreciative nod for giving a comprehensive support and protection within an extended speed range of 60 to 200 km/h. It now has a five-stage bar to visualise the driver's current attention level but it doesn't actually detect this literally but rather, I'd say it's sensitive. When I was driving at 80 km/h on a slightly curved road, it flashed a warning on the dashboard as a safety reminder. It wasn't the situation it was built for, but it's good to know that its sensors are very reactive.
The A-Class has always been a great car. The new generation basically refreshed its look to a more appealing and modern design fitted with some of the most clever technologies, meeting the needs of the general driver and some more. Its sporty dimensions and low roofline, however, compromises space and the lower specs in the A 180, compared with its fellow models in the same category, makes it a comfortable and fun ride but nothing more.
The new Mercedes-Benz A 180 retails at RM195,888. For more information, visit www.mercedes-benz.com.my.