2 November 2018

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018 Car Review

IMG 9537 mercedes A class 200 jm 18
Mercedes-Benz A-Class
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Mercedes-Benz A-Class
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Mercedes-Benz A-Class
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Mercedes-Benz A-Class
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Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Let’s get the most obvious headliner in this Mercedes A200 test car out of the way first – that wide, wide instrument screen, which extends two-thirds of the way across the dash, and shows you everything with a clarity and crispness which until recently one could only dream of.

And then there’s the voice control. Simply say ‘Hey Mercedes’, and the car’s female voice is ready to leap to your command. Sure, it gets a little annoying when she interrupts whenever anyone says ‘nice Mercedes’, but she’s linked to one of the most user-friendly voice menus we’ve encountered. So friendly it’s tempting to go off script, but though it’s designed to recognize key phrases in natural speech, we discovered it’s not endlessly flexible. We did soon discover which phrases would work – and yes, it still feels more natural than the normally stiff verbal shorthand that most voice controls work with. We’re told it will learn and adapt to suit the user, aka the purchaser who will drive it long term.

This is all part of the latest A-class, which landed here in August with that standard wide screen. It’s still a handsome car with a more youthful feel than the traditional Merc, and now comes with a freshened engine line-up, including this 1.33-litre four-cylinder unit, and that voice control, which accesses satnav, music, phones, and even writing and listening to messages.

You can also configure the information the screen will display to some extent, and save your profile – handy if you share the car with your significant other – with two drivers also able to set a theme word which will activate a favoured climate mode, radio station, and the like.

The list of techie convenience features is astonishing. Normally call mum on Friday night’s commute? The car will bring her number up that day to prompt you…

Naturally there’s more to any car than its computer. This A-class got minor suspension improvements, and buyers can opt for the likes of active damping as well as the standard Dynamic Select, with its four driving modes.

We set our own, firming the suspension at all times as it was a tad over-plush on speed humps, and potholes, even at very low speeds. Otherwise any setting produced a comfy ride and cornering confidence, with the sportier setting never straying into ‘too hard’ territory.

As for the daily commute, this is a slightly longer, wider and higher car with a longer wheelbase, and occupants will find they have more shoulder and elbow room, especially out back, while the boot capacity is up 29 litres, to 370.

It may be bigger, but it looks sleeker – the length has increased by 120mm but height just 6mm, and allied with the optional AMG pack larger wheels (18-inches is standard) and slightly lower suspension with the optional sports pack it looks very smart indeed.

Bar the slightly over-soft response to larger bumps and lumps in eco or normal suspension settings – hence our sticking to ‘sport’ – the drive experience is fabulous. Of course this isn’t a sports car, but the modest engine gets along well, while still being frugal under cruise.

The cab ergonomics will be familiar to any Mercedes owner, assisted considerably by the usability of the menus accessed via that wide, wide screen. Spend a week with the car and you’ll still be trying different settings and tunes, when you’re not simply enjoying a feeling of executive luxury that doesn’t come with the otherwise expected enormous price and footprint.

Our favourite little surprise was the kinetic seats. Simply choose medium, short or long trip, and at intervals during your drive the seat will make minor adjustments. The back may tilt up, or back, a tiny amount, The seat base may move up or down a whisker. It’s all apparently random, and aimed at stopping you from getting stiff or physically fatigued by your drive. Clever stuff, though only available with the electric seat option, obviously.

Our test car was the base A-class, but its price was boosted by over 11 grand with the addition of the Mountain Grey Metallic Paint, 19-inch AMG alloy wheels, the seat comfort pack, AMG Exclusive pack, vision and sports pack – which includes that ‘lowered comfort suspension’. Of those, we’d recommend the seat pack, at $1290, which includes fully electrically adjustable and heated front seats, and a passenger mirror which tilts down when you reverse.

Sure, A-class isn’t cheap when compared to the mainstream. It is unlikely to be on the consideration list for Corolla or Mazda3 buyers, though if you can stretch that far, you’ll rarely wonder where the extra money went. But when compared to some of the logical opposition this combination of road manners, cabin space, engine performance – including fuel economy – and tech could see A-class feature large on NZ’s various year-end Car of the Year rankings.

At a glance


Mercedes A200 A-class


1332cc four-cylinder petrol


$60,900, $72,440 as tested

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

 120kW, 250Nm


Seven-speed auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

1600kg braked


2WD front wheels

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

370 litres

Safety systems

  • Active Park Assist inc Parktronic
  • Active Lane Keep Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist with exit warning
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Reversing camera
  • Adaptive High Beam Assist
  • Active Brake Assist
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