Right from the start Mercedes Diesel passenger cars were not only sturdy, but also economical. Their saga started more than half a century ago, and is now ever reaching new heights. This we experienced with the latest face lifted A Class we tested, the 180d.
It is a masterfully built, very frugal companion.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
We liked the looks of our Cosmos Black Mercedes. It is a color which suits the cars with the iconic star very well, and this 180d is no exception.
Also the finish of the cabin, with a carbon checquered pattern for the dashboard panels, down even to the dials of the circular instruments, put a smile on our faces. The stitching pattern of the Artico seat upholstery, repeated in the leather covered steering wheel, put us also in the right mood.
A classical turn of the key brings the 1461 cc four cylinder diesel to life. This unit started its career as a Renault engine, but has been adapted on numerous points by the Mercedes engine developers. The result is a smooth, pleasantly civilized unit with plenty of pulling power. Low noise levels, excellent docility also at crawling speeds in traffic jams make it a fine companion, both on congested urban traffic as on the open road. Its 109 HP or 80 Kw make the A Class here sufficiently swift.
As we know with diesel engines, it is the torque which gives the car its liveliness, certainly when the ratios of the gearbox are well adapted, which is certainly the case with this combination. The third gear is eminently useable for instance at the now ubiquitous urban speed limit of 30 km/h, where it lets the engine turnover smoothly at 1200 rpm. Suave progress, delivering unique consumption figures. In dense, slow traffic with some stretches of boulevard driving at 50 km/h, we clocked an average consumption of 4,1 liters/100 km, according to the trip computer. Impressive...
Indeed, we had no trouble at all to achieve consumption of 4 liters/100 km, as the accompanying photo clearly shows. Over this 59 km long stretch, we drove at legal speeds on the motorway between two large urban areas, and achieved an average speed of 72 km, so we were certainly not pottering along in the right lane(s)...
As said, the six speed gearbox is ideally geared, with for example a second gear short enough not to stall the engine when one wants to accelerate strongly from crawling speeds.
Clutch take up is also gradual and progressive, and this makes the 180d a "zen" smoothie to drive in town. When it comes to performance, the 180d scores nicely, with a 0 to 100 acceleration time of 11.3 seconds, and a top speed in the region of 190 kmh. Need we say more? We already commented at length about the excellent consumption, clearly setting here a benchmark in its segment. CO2 emissions are low, ranging between 107 and 98 g/km.
Comfort and agility
We already uttered many words of praise on the excellent chassis and suspension in previous tests of cars with the good star sharing the same platform, and we were again impressed by the comfort, combined with agility and precise handling.
Our test car sported a variable suspension setup, quite frankly we chose the comfort mode most of the time.
The A Class breathes build quality all over. This translates in the impeccable finish of the cabin and body and clearly shows in the quality of the materials used.
This makes the car especially endearing to us, as we have a weak spot for cars which are build to last…just read our latest editorial!
Of course there is also the charm of pleasant everyday use, as the ergonomics of this Mercedes are well thought out and show the vast experience of this luxury car builder, honed further over the years.
For example, the very intuitive use of the smooth cruise control is a case in point. Just a nudge on the lever and you are cruising... But the same is true for virtually all the main controls and functions.
The A Class is in our opinion more attractive than ever. It has the right combination of handling and comfort, sits indeed beautifully, which one appreciates as well on short urban trips as on Grand Touring outings.
Its engine truly delivers, both in terms of performance and economy, the whole smoothness of engine and drive train earn it also very high marks. The looks are fine from any angle, and as said, the finish is impeccable.
Built to last and be your faithful and frugal, sturdy and elegant companion for many years. So what are you waiting for to sit behind its good star?
Hans Knol ten Bensel