There is a new baby in the Mercedes-Benz family, baby not only because its new but because it is the entry point to the 3-pointed star in India. The smallest Merc makes a big statement with its name the A Class Limousine. Limousine not because it’s the long wheelbase version, but because it promises to be a full luxury sedan. I travelled to sunny Goa to get a taste of the all-new A.
Lay your eyes on the new A-Class and the first thing that stands out is the bold three - pointed star on the single slat grille proudly letting you know its lineage. It is flanked on either side by triangular headlamps and sharp Led DRL’s. The profile may not have the swooping roofline of the earlier CLA, but it still a sleek one sitting on smart 17” alloys. It isn’t head turning like the CLA was, but it is a more mature and elegant design.
Open the doors to the new A and it is a different story. It is like walking into a classy cocktail lounge. It is bolder and there is wow factor everywhere. From the chunky ledge that runs across the dash, to the rich open-pore wood that highlights it and the twin 10.25” hi-definition screens that sit behind a single glass. All the textures, materials and colours are super subtle but scream luxury from every corner of the car. There is a massive bouquet of features to excite as well, like 64 colour options of ambient lighting, connected car tech with Alexa integration, AI based digital assistant, wireless charging, dual zone climate control, powered seats with memory and the list goes on. It also does have a reasonably sized boot which can fit in two medium suitcases easily.
Push the start button and the A200 1.3 litre petrol with 163hp purrs to life. I start off and am immediately impressed by how easy it feels from behind the wheel. Negotiating my way through Goa’s narrow village roads feels easy, with the convenient size. The pulls away smartly and in a refined manner initially while the 7- speed automatic works easily to cut through traffic. However, once I get on to more open stretches and press down for more power, the laziness of the gearbox is exposed and with that a hint of laziness from the engine. I find myself having to mash the accelerator down hard to bring up the power. A quick tug on the paddle shifters brings up the responses quicker but the better option is switching to sport which makes a big difference. I leave it in sport because the sharper responses let you enjoy the power much more. I flip open the largeish sunroof and enjoy the balmy Goan air as I settle into a comfortable cruise. Now what you really need to know is that while the engine brings up the 100 in a respectable 8.3 seconds but more importantly it still manages to give a 17.5 kmpl average. With the way fuel process are these days that is note-worthy.
The other engine option the A 200d, a familiar 2.0 litre diesel with 150hp which is an instant hit with me. I like a strong and silent type and this it is. It gets me involved right away, urging me to push harder. Snaking my way through a nice winding section of Goan countryside, I enjoy the fact that power is being served up willingly whenever I demand it. The new 8 speed auto shifts smoothly and efficiently making the entire drive so effortless. In fact, I don’t really find the need to reach for the paddles nor the need to dial it up to sport. The beauty about this diesel is that whether it’s the daily drudge, a comfortable cruise or driving like the devil - it delivers. The winding roads also give me a chance to test the cars composure which is quite impeccable. The steering always offers up a secure feel and the car maintains its balance really well. Which is why the A class really excels in ferrying you around like a much bigger car, cocooning you from the road imperfections. The ride quality is the ace in the A’s pack. There is also a fair amount of space for this size of car with good leg room and head room making the back seat a comfortable place to be. It is best for two though, but at a pinch you could squeeze in a third. It really does feel luxurious but the only bone of contention and what takes a little away from the luxury feel is that it doesn’t feel as well insulated to sounds as you would expect from a Merc.
Now, if you really want to dial it up a notch and want more serious performance Mercedes are also offering the AMG A 35. The 2.0 litre turbo petrol churns out 306hp. It’s not as manic as the A45 was but it certainly has enough oomph to keep you grinning. It is also the second AMG to be assembled here.
The Mercedes brand has always been alluring and aspired for. Priced at 39.90 lakh for the petrol, 40.90 for the diesel and 56.40 for the AMG. Each engine option offering a single fully loaded variant, the A Class now casts a wider net affording more people the ability to buy into the brand. With the elegant look, classy interior, good performance and comfortable back seat the A Class Limousine draws you in. It may be the new baby, but it has matured as a car and though it is the smallest in the family it is big on luxury.
The writer is Editor, Autocar Show