A- CLASS GETS THE BLUES
Blue is the new green, if you take any notice of badges from Mercedes-Benz or Volkswagen, anyway. The strategy to cut fuel consumption for the latest “eco” models appears to be similar for both too. As far as the Mercedes-Benz A160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is concerned, the changes include revisions to the fuel injection system, aerodynamic tweaks, low rolling resistance tyres, energy management measures combined with weight reduction, and then there’s a diesel particulate filter.
Better aerodynamics means a revised radiator grille to improve airflow and suspension lowered by 10mm to reduce drag. Battery charge is constantly monitored and where possible charging takes place on the overrun. Energysapping charging under power is therefore kept to a minimum.
Surprisingly, there is no automatic stop/start system, but one will be introduced for A 150 and A 170 BlueEFFICIENCY petrol models. The explanation here is probably technical. Starter makers are struggling to produce a belt drive starter/alternator capable of starting diesels over two-litres. Even though the A-Class diesel is smaller than that, just, it suggests that there is no suitable starter/alternator for it.
The A 160CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is only available with the three-door body shell, principally to cut weight. The result of all the tweaks is a combined fuel consumption figure of 64.2mpg, compared with 57.6mpg for the similarly powered A 160CDI Classic SE five-door and carbon dioxide emissions of 116g/km, compared with 128g/km. That’s enough to slash VED from £120 a year to £35. And there’s very little, apart from the BlueEFFICIENCY badge, to indicate that you are driving something quite so frugal. There’s a fair bit of combustion rattle, particularly from cold, just like any other A-Class diesel, the gearing isn’t designed for the traffic lights grand prix, but the reasonable torque output means the A-Class keeps rolling along quite happily. Drive in town, as I did most of the time and the modest performance doesn’t matter anyway.
The trouble is, others do it better. The BMW 1-series costs around £3,000 more, but the efficient dynamics package ensures there is better performance and economy. It’s much more fun to drive. Similarly the MINI Cooper D has the same treatment now and on paper, uses even less fuel than the A-Class and is also a better drive. But the A-Class is a Mercedes, the list of standard equipment is a very long one and the interior space demonstrates what a smart package the A-Class has always been. How about a smaller, more efficient engine in the first place Mr Benz?
RIVALS: BMW 118d 3-DOOR, FORD FOCUS ECONETIC 1.6 TDCi 3-DOOR, MINI COOPER D
- Engine: 1992cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed
- Max Power: 82bhp at 4,200rpm
- Max Torque: 133lb ft at 1,400-2,600rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,000kg
- Combined Consumption: 64.2mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 116g/km (B)
- 0-62mph: 15.0secs
- Max speed: 106mph
- Insurance Group: 5