REVIEW | 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan is mature and stylish

21 November 2019 - 07:44 By Phuti Mpyane
A new segment of clients will be created with Mercedes-Benz’s smallest saloon range. Picture: SUPPLIED
A new segment of clients will be created with Mercedes-Benz’s smallest saloon range. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.

It has a more capacious standard boot than the hatch, but the rear seats don’t fold down. Picture: SUPPLIED
It has a more capacious standard boot than the hatch, but the rear seats don’t fold down. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.

Classic Mercedes décor is heightened by illuminated turbine-style aircon vents, MBUX display and fine quality materials. Picture: SUPPLIED
Classic Mercedes décor is heightened by illuminated turbine-style aircon vents, MBUX display and fine quality materials. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.


Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Four-cylinder turbo

Capacity: 1,332cc

Power: 120W

Torque: 250Nm

Transmission

Type: Seven-speed auto

Drivetrain

Type: Front wheel drive

Performance (claimed)

Top speed: 230km/h

0-100km/h: 8.1 sec

Fuel Consumption: 5.4l/100km (claimed) 6.3l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 124g/km

Standard features

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

Price: R558,906

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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Competition

Audi A3 35 TFSI S Line sedan, 110kW/250Nm — R490,410

Mazda3 2.0 Astina, 121kW/213Nm — R470,800

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