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Mercedes-Benz A 180 CDI (copyright image)

ROAD TEST:   Mercedes-Benz A 180 CDI

by Stephen Walker

22nd April, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Mercedes-Benz

At under 4 metres in length, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the smallest car to wear the 'three-pointed star' at the present time.

The tiny A-Class is available as a 3 door hatchback (coupe in the Mercedes 'lingo') or a 5 door hatchback (which Mercedes call a saloon). Conventional wisdom suggests a coupe has a rearward sloping roof line and a saloon has a boot. On that basis, Next Car will refer to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class models as hatchbacks! And as conventional wisdom says you should call a spade a spade, we will call a hatchback a hatchback. That said, our first impression of the little Benz was quite favourable for a number of reasons. And the appeal continued to grow during our time with the car.

On this occasion we drove the 5 door hatchback fitted with a 2 litre turbo-charged diesel engine and a 6 speed manual gearbox. This model is known as the A 180 CDI. Starting price for the A 180 is $39,900 (RRP). Our drive car was fitted with the optional Metro Package ($3,600 less a $2,500 credit for the manual transmission because auto is included with the Metro Package), making our drive car valued at $41,000 (RRP). The trim level of the test car was "Classic", which is the base model in the A-Class line-up. You wouldn't necessarily described the A 180 CDI as basic though.

It is quite reasonable to have high expectations for a small car at this price point. In this respect, the little A 180 CDI delivers the goods as many fine attributes contribute to make quite an admirable package.

Peace of mind is provided by the standard fitment of airbags and electronic stability programme. In fact, the entire treatment of the A-Class by Mercedes-Benz as it relates to safety, both active and passive, puts the A-Class amongst the highly admired cars of this world. The priority that Mercedes-Benz assigns to safety is well worthy of great respect.

Stephen Walker with the 
Mercedes-Benz A 180 CDI (copyright image)

Our drive programme for the Mercedes-Benz A 180 CDI involved 304 kilometres around suburban Melbourne.

On the road, the A-Class proved quite enjoyable with a nice and easy, light manual gear change, user friendly controls, exceptionally light steering at low speeds (due to the Active Park Assist, which is part of the optional "Metro Package"), quiet interior (you only hear the diesel chug-a-lug when you open a window or door). Visibility is quite good from the driver's seat. The well designed five-seat interior provides good room for four occupants. The seating is comfy and there is lumbar support for the driver in addition to a footrest. The steering wheel adjusts 4 ways and the back seat rest is of the 60/40 variety. The air conditioning is quite effective. The luggage space is somewhat small.

Whilst selecting reverse is a tougher task than it needs to be, the general feeling of the A 180 on the road is very nice. It will appeal to those who want a car to be easy to drive and even easier to manage whilst parking.

Fuel economy is something that is quite easy to get used to in this little Benz. The often quoted combined cycle has a 'rating' of just 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres. This is cause for joy and given the good performance characteristics of the 2 litre diesel, one can only be happy driving this little Mercedes.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a unique car. It features styling that cannot be mistaken for any other car and it has a level of comfort that isn't always associated with small cars. Further, it is so user friendly that it is a joy to drive the streets of a big city. And the safety aspects are admired. The delivery of these attributes, at the price of $41,000 (RRP), is sufficient to make the Mercedes-Benz A 180 CDI an appealing car for those seeking something a little different.


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