First drive: Mercedes A-Class

  • Face-lift for A-Class
  • More equipment
  • On sale in July from £14,365
The 2008 Mercedes A-Class - we're the first to drive it
The 2008 Mercedes A-Class - we're the first to drive it
Mercedes is freshening up quite a few of its cars at the moment, and the latest to get a nip, a tuck and a few extra goodies is also the smallest - the A-Class.

So what's new? Well the baby Merc looks a bit sharper, for one thing. Park new next to old and you'll notice a more aggressive front end, a tightened-up rear and some fresh new wheels.

The seats are trimmed in a new cloth and all door mirrors and handles are now body-coloured, too.

Safer and more practical
Living with a new A-Class is easier, too. Hill start is fitted as standard and (if you're not keen on parking) you can specify 'Active Park Assist' for £550.

Unlike most of these self-park systems, this one actually works quite well and you don't need a degree in IT to use it.

Adaptive brake lights (that flash when you stop in a hurry) and crash-responsive emergency lighting (interior lights that switch on automatically in an accident) make the A-Class even safer - all of which makes the fact that you have to pay extra (£205) for curtain airbags slightly incongruous.

Green tweaks, too
The new car goes on sale in July from £14,365, but hold on to your cash until October, because there's some bigger news. Stop-start technology will be fitted to the petrol-engined cars as standard, which means the A150 and A170 will use less fuel - up to 9% less, in fact.

Similar savings in carbon dioxide also means the A170 will drop a tax band.

That's not all - there's a super 'green' A160 CDI BlueEfficiency on the way, too. That will only pump out 119g/km of carbon dioxide, so you'll only be charged £35 a year for a tax disc.

The sum of the changes isn't enough to worry the Volkswagen Golf, but if you don't put a premium on driving and manage to haggle a decent discount, the A-Class is worth a look.

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