By EWAN KENNEDY, Marque Motoring
C. 2016 Mercedes-Benz A250
When Mercedes-Benz launched the A-Class in 1997 it was a stubby little car deliberately made to be shorter than any conventional four-door car.
No big deal in Australia, but huge in Europe where a car with a length 100 mm less than anything else could make the difference between finding a parking spot in a big city or not. Which sounds weird to Aussies, but if you’ve ever looked at cars crammed bumper-to-bumper on Parisian streets you will understand.
That original A-Class was never a success in Australia, nor did it work as well on the Euro market as anticipated.
The third generation A-Class, sold here from March 2013, is larger and far more conventional in its style and is the one being surveyed here.
It shifted from being quirky and cute to high fashion scene thanks to a bold front that, without too much imagination, carried styling cues to the high-performance SLS Gullwing and Roadster.
Fascinatingly, Mercedes choose the gen-three to do a toe-in-the-water exercise for infotainment systems, with the 2013 A-Class being described at the time as being, “almost an iPhone on wheels”. It had technology features before the bigger Benz models got them.
Because drivers paying more attention to their new electronic toys could cause crashes Mercedes fitted a suite of crash avoidance items – this time features already seen in the more expensive Mercs models. Lane departure, blind-spot and tailgating warnings were all offered on the new A-Class.
In January 2016 the A-Class received a facelift and tail-tuck, as well as additional technology, with all versions now having adaptive suspension and satellite navigation. These are still relatively rare on the used car scene but we expect them to come on stream relatively soon.
Power for the standard models in the A-Class is by turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel engines in various capacities and power outputs. Note that the numbers like A180, A200 and A250 don’t indicate displacement as Mercedes-Benz gave up that long-used system at about this time.
Theres also the hot Mercedes-AMG A45 with a pumped up 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that began with 265 kW of power and later moved up to 280 kW because it has steadily been increased in output in an almost daily battle with the hot machines from rivals Audi and BMW. The AMG uses the company’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system for obvious reasons.
Mercedes-Benz has been a major player in Australia for many decades. The dealerships are well set up we have heard very few complaints about price availability of parts, though we do hear some folks muttering about prices at times. But keep in mind, you’re in a Merc, not an Asian hatch.
Insurance charges are a little higher than average for a car in this price range, but not seriously so.
Note that there are other models partly based on the A-Class in the Mercedes range. The CLA -Class for example is part A-Class and part CL-Class, with some unique bits to further complicate things. These models will be covered in future used car features.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
If there’s the slightest doubt about the mechanical condition be sure to get a quote for repairs. These may be small cars but they come into the prestige class when it’s time for work to be carried out.
Look for signs of body repairs. Ripples in the panels, most easily spotted by looking at them end on; tiny spots of paint on non-painted surfaces; colours that don’t match exactly from panel to panel.
Uneven front tyre wear could either mean the suspension has been bent against a kerb, or the car has been driven hard – or both.
Interior wear may have been severe in a car small Merc that’s been worked hard. Have a look in the boot and its surrounds in case it has been used to cart bulky loads.
Make sure the engine starts easily and is reasonably smooth in operation. Any hesitation is a cause for concern.
Mercedes-AMG A45s are very much specialist machines. Can’t say we’ve seen any at track days yet, but there may be some out there we don’t know about. A roll cage or signs of one having been removed, added instruments or a fire extinguisher may be clues to a
CAR BUYING TIP
Sadly, city based cars often suffer from lots of dings and dents to mar their paintwork. Have a close look for even the smallest of marks.