Mercedes A-Class restores faith

In the aftermath of my recent test of the Mercedes-Benz B180, I was a bit concerned about getting behind the wheel of the A160.

I should not have been concerned. From the moment I hopped on board, I felt at home in the A160. Well, to be truthful, from the moment after I hopped on board.

The reason is that you step straight into the A-Class, because the driving position is quite high. Yet, when you sit down, your legs are more stretched out than you expect and the floor is surprisingly high. The reason for this is the double floor that Mercedes-Benz introduced on this model. In an accident the engine should slide underneath the double floor, helping to protect the passengers.

That slight surprise apart, it is an extremely easy car to get in and out of. No doubt that is why the Mercedes-Benz A-class is much loved of courtesy-car operators and, indeed, those who are less able to cope with tucking themselves into low-slung vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
So accommodation is excellent. The driving environment is good, although I do think Mercedes’ insistence on one steering column stalk to control indicators, light, wipers and washers is tradition take a tad too far. However, it is nice to find a Mercedes-Benz with a conventional handbrake, rather than the American-style foot pedal.

If passengers are well catered for, so is the luggage – up to a point. When you fold the rear seats it does not create a fully flat floor and there is an annoying lip behind the rear seat which prevents sliding of loads in and out.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The particular car I tested is Mercedes new low-consumption, low-emission specification. Dubbed BlueEFFICIENCY, it does what it says on the tin. Out of town you should quite eaily be able to squeeze 60 miles out of every gallon. Indeed, the official figures say that 74 mpg is feasible in laboratory conditions. Similarly CO2 emissions are remarkably low, with a figure of 116 g/km putting the A160 into the lowest band of tax.

However, there is a price to pay. The A160 BlueEFFICIENCY is a bit slow on the uptake. Unlike the over-geared and hesitant B180, it is not unpleasant to drive, but the 0-62 mph time of 15 seconds tells its own story.

But let’s get this in perspective. I like a car with a bit of pep about it. But, as my wife will vouch, I was not making up excuses to bypass the Mercedes’ keys and head for my own car. I actually did enjoy my time with the A160, which made a very pleasant contrast to B180.

The Mercedes-Benz A160 BlueEFFICIENCY Avantgarde SE, to give the car its full name, is priced at £16,690.

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