Mercedes has transformed itself into a mainstream premium manufacturer with surprising ease. Key to this success is one of the widest (and most confusing) model line ups in the business. It seems that Mercedes-Benz has identified every premium niche going and ruthlessly filled it. So what is the next step to world domination?
If we have had a criticism of Mercedes over recent years it is that the styling and dynamic capabilities of the cars has been a little too staid. Of course one person's 'boring' is another person's 'understated elegance' but we couldn't help feeling that a bit of design flair wouldn't go amiss, and clearly someone in Stuttgart agrees.
The A-Class has been transformed from an ugly duckling into a contemporary-looking hatch that is likely to appeal to significantly younger buyers. As well as looking far sharper, the new shape is particularly slippery (cd 0.27) which helps high speed fuel economy and reduces wind noise. The interior is also a major step forward offering sophistication and flair that is hard to match.
At the heart of the A180 CDI ECO is a 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine which produces a meaty 191 lb ft of torque between 1750 - 2500 rpm. It’s an advanced unit with a high pressure 1,800 bar injection system which uses magnetic valve actuation and variable turbine geometry to optimise performance and efficiency. Other tricks include taller gearing, active aero and engine start-stop.
Thanks to the radical redesign, the A-Class should now be a serious consideration for younger buyers which is great news for Mercedes as the point of the A-Class is to attract new buyers to the brand. It’s stylish, very well put together and efficient. It does cost a bit more than mainstream rivals but not as much as you may think, so if fun isn't top of your list, it has a lot going for it.