First drive: Mercedes A-Class

* Face-lift for A-Class * More equipment * On sale in July from 14,365...

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Will Nightingale
20 May 2008

First drive: Mercedes A-Class

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.