When a manufacturer gives a car a midterm facelift the changes are normally only slight, but nonetheless, they are obvious. Mercedes, on the other hand, has taken a rather different approach with the A-Class. Celebrating its 10th birthday, and halfway through the production cycle of the second generation of A-Class, it’s not so much had a facelift, more a scale and polish. There’s an ubiquitous new grille with redesigned front headlights and they have given it adaptive rear brake lights too – standard fit across the range, which flash rapidly to warn following traffic you’ve just slammed on the anchors. However, the rest of the exterior alterations are limited to a carwash-friendlier shorter aerial, colour-coded door handles, and a body-coloured rubber strip which runs down the length of its side.
The changes to the interior tell a similar story and not too much has been changed. With the Classic, Sport and Turbo trim-levels being consigned to the Mercedes history books, the choice of refinements is left to the Classic SE, Elegance SE and Avantgarde SE. The layout on all three stay as before, with the main switchgear and dials left untouched. Mercedes has introduced a multifunction steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity, as standard equipment on all trims.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the optional ‘hill start assist’ (standard on all manuals) and the £550 ‘active park assist’. Irrespective of the fact, both these systems are not exactly hold-the-front-page news, having been offered by other manufacturers for some time now, it is still a spooky feeling to let the car reverse itself, perfectly, into a parking space with very little driver interaction. Widen the search for other modifications and cutting edge technological breakthroughs in the A-Class, and it starts to become a long and fruitless exercise. So, it won’t come as a complete shock then, to learn the diesel power outputs have been left intact as well. The line-up still includes the 4-cylinder 160 CDI and 180 CDI – both available with either the 5-speed manual or the CVT automatic transmission. Bizarrely, Mercedes is only offering the fuel-saving stop n’ start system on the petrol versions. Don’t they realise that the diesel versions would be even more efficient than the petrol if they included this option on them as well? When it goes on sale in July, the onroad price will begin with the manual A 160 CDI Classic SE 3-door at £15,145 and rise towards the twenty-one grand mark for the A 180 CDI Avantgarde SE 5-door automatic.
RIVALS: BMW 1 SERIES, MINI COOPER D, VOLKSWAGEN POLO
- Engine: 1992cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 82bhp at 4,200rpm
- Max Torque: 133lb ft at 1,400 – 2,600rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,000kg
- Combined Consumption: 57.6mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 129g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 15.0secs
- Max speed: 106mph
- Insurance Group: 5