REVIEW | 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan is mature and stylish
The new A-Class sedan is a genuine threat to the larger C-Class, which has been the archetypical definition of a compact Mercedes sedan for the past 27 years.
Despite the emerging SUV-crossover mainstream, some South Africans still tend to go for booted cars like this new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, and we can thank Audi for the creation of the premium compact saloon with its A3 sedan.
The A-Class sedan is based on the same chassis as the hatchback, however at 4,549mm it’s 130cm longer than its hatch cousin. Could this be the deciding factor for those who take the plunge?
The effectiveness of the sedan over the hatch is a 420l boot that swallows a lot more stuff than the hatch’s 370l. But the model with a tailgate fights back with foldable rear seats that increase loading space to a vast 1,210l. The rear seats in the sedan don’t fold down.
They are virtually twinned in almost every other respect, from mechanicals and specification to even the wheelbase length of 2,729mm. The interior design is entirely A-Class hatch too and it’s a premium and mature cabin to be in, with top-quality materials throughout and dominated by illuminated turbine air vents.
The test car was loaded to the rafters with optional equipment, which included a graphically brilliant MBUX interface, head-up display, a flat and fiddly touch pad, an electrically operated panoramic sunroof and active cruise control with self-brake, throttle and autonomous steering.
If the primary job of the A-Class sedan isn’t loading, then it’s definitely the CLS-like styling that wins it admiring glances. The test unit was handsome, with an AMG diamond grille and body kit.
As for the driving experience, it’s typically Mercedes-Benz in texture but in pint-sized portions. It glides satisfactorily on different surfaces of roads and is sprightly in the city, and despite its modest A200 badge, its performance is not what I’d call snoozing.
The 1.3l petrol turbo engine makes 120kW and 250Nm and gear changes are handled by a seven-speed automatic. The car is claimed to reach 100km/h from standstill in 8.1 sec with a top speed of 230km/h.
In-between the speeds there’s good body control, accurate enough steering and good resistance to understeer no matter how hard the rear wants to step out of line.
But before it returned home, I learnt that it’s actually got somewhat of an over-boosted throttle response at low speeds, which is a more useful trait in the racier looking hatch.
This makes the saloon a bit jumpy at low speeds, and despite exemplary downsizing tricks, the engine also has its idiosyncrasies.
It operates in hushed tones at low revs but becomes a little coarse and droney as the needle rises. The power delivery also tails off as you reach highway speeds.
Regardless, in all likelihood you’ve already decided whether you fancy the A-Class in sedan, hatch or swoopy CLA guise. This A-Class sedan is a logical extension of the range because there’s still an authentic charm and a point to the shape, but if you are on the fence, remember that a suit still looks best hung and peering from the rear side window of a sedan instead of a youthful hatch.
Type: Four-cylinder turbo
Type: Seven-speed auto
Type: Front wheel drive
Top speed: 230km/h
0-100km/h: 8.1 sec
Fuel Consumption: 5.4l/100km (claimed) 6.3l/100km (as tested)
ABS, stability control, LED Daytime driving running lights, rain sensor wipers, air conditioning, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, auto on/off xenon head lights, six airbags, touch multifunction steering wheel controls, partial suede-cloth/leather upholstery
Cost of ownership
Warranty: 2 years/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: 5 years/100,000km
Lease*: R11,969 a month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Line sedan
WE LIKE: Looks, refined drive quality, performance, digital sophistication
WE DISLIKE: Engine sounds a little gruff
VERDICT: Downsized middle-management’s chariot
Motor News star rating
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Audi A3 35 TFSI S Line sedan, 110kW/250Nm — R490,410
Mazda3 2.0 Astina, 121kW/213Nm — R470,800