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Review: Mercedes A-Class Sport

Driven May 2013

Review: Mercedes A-Class Sport

If you don’t find the A-Class good-looking, something is up with your vision. According to us, it’s one of the best looking cars of 2013, and the interiors are pleasingly reminiscent of the SLS AMG. Those vents, stitching on the leather and the ambient lighting under the headrests are all class. Good that the A has got the looks right. Because the cheapest Merc might just turn out to be the most difficult Merc to sell.

You see, India has never taken well to expensive hatches. And the A-Class at over Rs 22 lakh is not cheap. But what it provides in abundance are thrills. The steering feels lovely, handling is great and the car feels extremely sorted and comfortable at 80kph and 180kph. The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol is small on paper. And it makes 121bhp, which is not saying much. Because most modern small-capacity turbo petrol motors tend to feel less powerful than what their specs indicate. The A, however, feels about 10-20 horses more than its quoted power figure.

It gets to a 100kph in 9.85 seconds and its in-gear acceleration times are just around two and a half seconds. And at about 13kpl in a mix of city and highway, this is not a deplete-your-bank-account Mercedes. The only fault I have to pick with the engine is it doesn't sound as good as it goes.

And does it go. The A’s high-speed manners and refinement are impeccable. It only lets in a bit of a tyre noise on certain surfaces. While the cabin is great in terms of design, the rear seats don’t offer an abundance of space. Two in the back will be comfortable. Three will be a squeeze.

All in all, the A is a phenomenal car with performance that match the looks. If you have reservations against paying this much for a hatch or about having a Mercedes that’s a hatch, well, you are missing out on a lot.

The numbers
1595cc, 4-cyl, turbopetrol, 121bhp, 200Nm, 7A FWD, Rs 22.73 lakh (ex-Mumbai)

The verdict
Looks brilliant, is practical and economical and has near sportscar dynamics. But you will have to unlearn everything you expect from a Merc.

Sriram Narayanan

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