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Mercedes-Benz A-class Limousine review, road test

2nd Jun 2021 8:00 am

A posh new compact luxury sedan that promises to be more practical than the popular CLA sedan it replaces.

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  • Make : Mercedes-Benz
  • Model : A-Class Limousine

With the launch of the all-new A-Class Limousine, Mercedes-Benz has opened up a new entry point into the brand in India. Not only does this car replace the CLA sedan in India, but with the new-gen CLA, and A- and B-Class hatchbacks ruled out for our market, the A-Class Limousine will be the most affordable offering wearing the three-pointed star.

Mercedes has introduced the A-Class Limousine in A 200 guise with a 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine, an A 200d guise with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, and what makes matters more interesting is a third performance-oriented A 35 AMG version that’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine. The entire range will be available in a single variant, packing in all the bells and whistles. It comes in as a completely knocked down (CKD) unit and is assembled in India to keep a check on costs. Prices for this baby Mercedes start at Rs 39.90 lakh for the petrol, Rs 40.90 lakh for the diesel and Rs 56.24 lakh for the A 35 AMG, but does it deliver your money’s worth? We find out.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine

Rs 45.25 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)

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The A-Class sedan is sold alongside the all-new CLA sedan in some markets, and both are built on the same new-generation MFA2 (Modular Front Architecture) platform and share a lot of similarities. For India, however, Mercedes opted for this sedan to replace the outgoing CLA. This is due to the fact that, just like the outgoing version, the new-gen CLA also gets a swooping roofline, resulting in limited rear headroom. The A-Class sedan, on the other hand, has a more conventional roofline and better space management, making it more rear passenger-friendly in comparison (more on that later).

Curiously, despite being christened with the suffix ‘Limousine’ for India – a term commonly referred to a stretched luxurious car – only the Chinese market gets a long-wheelbase version of the A-Class sedan, which has a 60mm longer wheelbase than the one we get here.

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The A-Class Limousine is dressed to impress, with its elegance and mature design language. Look at it head-on and it resembles a mini CLS, with its sharp, triangular LED headlamps and its bold grille flaunting the three-pointed star. Gone are the chic frameless windows of the CLA and the coupe-like sloping roofline. What it gets instead are stylish door-mounted mirrors, a confident waistline that runs the length of the dashboard and wraparound tail-lamps with unique Y-shaped LED elements. On closer inspection, the aerodynamically efficient alloys can easily pass muster in a modern EV, and the twin-exhaust housings at the rear are purely a design feature. Interestingly, carrying forward the CLA’s legacy in India, this one has achieved a coefficient of drag of 0.22, making it the most aerodynamic production vehicle, bettering the CLA’s 0.23.

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Smart-looking alloys are aerodynamically efficient.

There is no mistaking the A 35 AMG for the standard version; with a more aggressive body kit bearing larger intakes, side skirts, a rear diffuser and twin exhausts, it certainly looks the part. Completing its sporty look are twin, five-spoke 18-inch wheels, as well as a lowered ride height. 

The plush cabin of the A-Class Limousine certainly gives a taste of premium grade, Mercedes-Benz levels of quality and fit-finish. The dashboard is richly-appointed and what grabs your attention are the twin screens – one for the instrument cluster and one for the infotainment system – seamlessly integrated into a single binnacle, a design feature borrowed from larger Mercs. The turbine-inspired, rotary air-vents ooze quality and feel great to operate, as do the metallic toggle switches for the climate control. Lifting the cabin’s appeal further are the tastefully executed ambient lighting, unvarnished wood inserts, as well as the piano black and matte silver combination for the trim bits. The beige upholstery adds to the sense of space and brightens the cabin. Its front seats offer ample adjustments, are broad and comfortable, and also have adjustable neck restraints (unlike the large, single-piece seats of the CLA).

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Superb blend of wood, gloss black and matte silver trims; feels premium and is solidly built.

As mentioned earlier, things are better at the rear this time around, compared to the old CLA; the roof doesn’t slope as sharply, so headroom is no longer an area of concern, and it gets a longer wheelbase, liberating generous knee and legroom. Due to the lighter colour interiors and front seats that don’t hinder frontal visibility, like in the old CLA, this area doesn’t feel as claustrophobic. The backrest angle is still quite upright and the cushioning is a bit firm, but it’s actually the low placement of the seat that results in a knees-up seating position, leading to almost no thigh support. So, while space is better managed this time around, the backseat experience could have been more comfortable.

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Space is aplenty; however, the seat is placed too low for comfort.

The AMG’s interiors sport an all-black theme on the inside, with red stitching on the steering and part- Alcantara seats, along with red seat belts, in line with its racy theme. A matte silver panel replaces the wood trim. The rest of the design, layout and other bits are identical to the standard version.

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AMG A 35 gets an all-black theme with sporty red stitching on the seats and steering.

The petrol versions have a cargo area of 405 litres, while the diesel’s is 395 litres, 10 litres less due to the AdBlue tank. The luggage area is quite generous, with the spare wheel tucked beneath the boot floor. The backseat can also fold down to accommodate additional cargo. In the AMG version, however, due to the placement of the sub-woofer in the boot, the spare wheel is stationed on the boot floor, severely restricting cargo space.

Codenamed M282, the A 200 gets Mercedes’ version of the 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that it has co-developed with Renault. Not only does its all-aluminum construction keep a check on its weight but the semi-integrated intake and exhausts manifolds allow for its compact dimensions. What’s more is that it uses state-of-the-art technologies to reduce friction and enhance efficiency, gets centrally-placed multi-hole injectors, as well as an electronically-controlled wastegate turbocharger.

But the talking point of this engine is its smoothness and refined character. It feels at ease while pottering around town at low revs, in almost complete silence. The build-up of boost is linear, and it is pretty responsive to tap. Drive in an enthusiastic manner, however, and its small capacity becomes a lot more apparent, as it seems to be working rather hard to deliver its performance. You can max out the revs at 6,200rpm, although, it isn’t particularly free-revving nor does it enjoy being spun beyond 5,000rpm, as it begins to sound strained, with mechanical whines and noises coming through. Drivers with an attentive ear will often hear a sporty, whooshing sound from the wastegate after lifting-off the throttle.

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AMG’s series production engine houses a twin-scroll turbo.

Paired to this engine is a new Getrag-sourced 7-speed automatic, which uses two wet-clutches. This transmission shifts smoothly, and unlike some other DCTs, it doesn’t get jerky even at city speeds or while slowing down or during downshifts. Enhancing the A 200’s responsiveness is its short gearing, which also translates into respectable acceleration, with the 0-100kph sprint coming up in just 8.50sec.

Step into the A 200d after the petrol, and you’ll hear the diesel grumble, and feel mild vibrations on account of its relatively rougher idle. This car deploys the tried-and-tested OM654 1,950cc four-cylinder diesel engine that’s available in other Mercedes models. However, in the A 200d, it’s in a transverse layout, powering the front wheels, rather than the longitudinal, rear-wheel-drive setup in the other models. The diesel feels stronger than the petrol right from the get-go, with max torque of 320Nm coming in from as low as 1,400rpm, and remains strong over its 2,100rpm band. Power is delivered in one strong surge, all the way till its redline of 4,600rpm, with small peak at the 3,000rpm mark. Cruising and overtaking are far more confidence-inspiring, compared to the petrol, not only due to the extra 70Nm of torque on offer, but also because of the larger engine displacement that brings along with it an additional amount of ease and effortlessness. Sound levels are well in check till around 2,500rpm, and it is only beyond that that the diesel drone filters through.

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AMG A 35 offers sportscar-like performance without breaking the bank.

Making its India-debut in the A 200d is an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission that not only is as compact as the 7-speed DCT in its construction, but is also a bit lighter. The gear ratios are well-judged, and being closely stacked, it helps with quicker responses and brisk acceleration. Driving enthusiasts will love this transmission for its quickness, intuitiveness, and for how cleverly it offers additional engine braking while slowing down (in Sport mode). This transmission is so good, you’ll seldom find the need to take manual control via the paddle shifters. Overall, this gearbox is smooth, but in Sport mode it tends to get a tad too aggressive in the lower gears, which can catch you by surprise.

Even though this engine produces 150hp and 320Nm in the A 200d, in our tests, it dispatched the 0-100kph sprint in just 7.62sec, which is 0.6sec quicker than Mercedes’ claimed time. It also reached 200kph nearly 4sec faster than the 163hp A 200 petrol. What’s more is that the acceleration through the gears from 20-80kph and 40-100kph is far stronger in the diesel, indicating that this engine seems to pack stronger performance than what its numbers indicate.

The third offering in the A-Class Limousine line-up is in the more potent AMG A 35 that’s powered by a M260 306hp, two-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and uses a twin-scroll turbocharger to boost low-speed responses and aid drivability. What’s nice is that, at city speeds, it feels at ease with timely gearshifts, no delay in power delivery and a very hushed character. However, the A 35, as a package, eggs you to drive with verve and push it to its limits to truly appreciate its capabilities. Equipped with launch control, 0-100kph comes up in just 5.13sec, in a fuss-free manner as the AMG’s 7-speed DCT transmits power to all its four wheels. Switch to the most aggressive, Sport Plus setting and you’ll even hear lovely burbles from the exhaust, which further adds drama to the drive experience.

Thanks to the new, lighter and tauter MFA2 architecture, the A-Class Limousine feels agile and body control is impressive. It turns into corners nicely and feels predictable at all times. The suspension is on the stiffer side, but the diesel drives with a sense of maturity and poise over less than perfect roads. There is no unnecessary rocking or bobbing movement, even at higher speeds. The petrol’s ride on the other hand feels a bit brittle, and you are aware of the uneven road surface a lot more than in the diesel. Even tyre noise in the petrol, which came with Pirelli rubber, is a bit excessive, compared to the Michelin-equipped diesel. The steering on both versions is light but feels inert.

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Although the steering is inert, handling is predictable and confidence-inspiring.

The India-spec A-Class gets a higher ground clearance than most markets, however, with more than two passengers onboard you will still need to crawl over speed-breakers carefully, to prevent its underbelly from scraping. An even lower clearance in the A 35 will encourage you to master the art of crab-walking over medium and larger speed breakers.

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Low ride height makes the AMG prone to scraping its underbelly.

Speaking of which, the AMG feels a lot sharper, more direct and much more involving. The variable ratio steering offers plenty of feel, the body control is tighter and roll is virtually inexistent. Credit goes not only to the AMG suspension, its lowered ride height and adaptive dampers, but also to the clever 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which can transfer up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels. As a result, you can chuck this car into corners at silly speeds, and the handling is so good and it grips so well, it feels almost go-kart-like in character. A downside to its sporty handling is its ride quality, which is very stiff, and you’ll hear the suspension a lot more often while dealing with potholes. The ride improves in its Comfort setting (compared to Sport and Sport+), so you will be happy to leave the dampers in this setting for the most part. And with large 350mm discs in the front and rear, the A 35 sheds speeds just as impressively as it accelerates.

In order to save fuel, both, the A 200 and A 200d get a coasting function, wherein the gearbox switches to neutral so that the engine revs fall to idling RPMs when driven at steady speeds. The moment you get on the throttle, it engages a gear automatically.

The diesel simply outclasses its petrol counterpart with a city and highway efficiency of 12.54kpl and 17.72kpl, respectively, versus the A 200’s 7.23kpl and 12.27kpl. While both use shorter gearing, the diesel gets an additional eighth gear, so its motor is spinning at 1,600rpm at 100kph, while the petrol’s 7-speed makes the engine spin at 1,900rpm in top gear. What helps the diesel’s case is its far more effortless character, whereas the petrol seems to work much harder to make progress, leading to higher consumption. Interestingly, both cars are equipped with engine start-stop technology to reduce fuel consumption while idling, but during our tests, the petrol switched the engine off more often compared to the diesel.

We put the A 35 AMG through our highway cycle, and it returned a respectable 11.82kpl. We didn’t do a typical city cycle, instead we measured the efficiency after a rather spirited drive and the A 35 managed 5.1kpl.

10.25-inch infotainment is very easy to use; it is touch-operable, has a controller pad, and also supports advanced voice commands for certain functions. Taking connectivity a step further is the Mercedes ME Connect application, which allows users to check the vehicle status, lock-unlock the car remotely, locate the car, among several other features. Sound quality is rather good, but the A 35 takes things to a different level with its 590W Burmester sound system.

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Offered in just one fully-loaded variant for the petrol and diesel, the A-Class Limousine features auto-LED headlamps, 17-inch alloys, sunroof, cruise control, rear-view camera, dual-zone climate control, wireless charging, rear AC vents and more. It gets a crisp and clear 10.25-inch full-digital instrument cluster with multiple display options, a 10.25-inch screen for the infotainment, which is very easy to use and is touch operable, has dedicated shortcut controls on the centre console, and many functions can be operated via advanced voice commands. It includes wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus Mercedes’ e-SIM-based connectivity features via the ME connect app.

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Twin 10.25-inch screens seamlessly integrated into a single binnacle look great.

There’s ambient lighting on offer, too, but what’s really nice is that these can be configured to suit the preference of the users. A small but significant feature is the seat kinetics function for the front seats, which makes minor adjustments to the seats at regular intervals, to prevent fatigue during long drives. Uniquely, both front seats are not only electrically adjustable, but also get a memory function. Amongst the safety features is the active brake assist, which first emits a warning, then applies the brakes automatically in case it detects an impending collision, at speeds of up to 55kph. At speeds beyond that, the system only warns the driver, but doesn’t apply the brakes automatically.

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Alters seat position periodically to reduce fatigue over long drives.

In addition to the above, the AMG version features 18-inch alloys, launch control, a 590W Burmester sound system, sporty screen options for the instrument cluster, and adaptive dampers as the key additions.

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Crisp, highly customisable cluster; AMG’s has even more display options.

 

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine is a big leap ahead of the retired CLA sedan. Though it’s still very much a compact sedan, it looks and feels like a bigger car and drives like one too. The interiors are superbly built and richly appointed. The top-notch quality and level of luxury is what you would expect from a modern Merc. However, the rear seat experience, due to the low-seating, could have been better. Even though the A 200 petrol is smooth, it isn’t very efficient, and tends to feel strained when pushed. For those who enjoy driving, the diesel makes a more compelling case, with its well-rounded character, strong performance and impressive fuel efficiency. The heavier diesel also has the better ride. Handling, too, is rather predictable and inspires confidence while driving fast. Yes, the A-Class’ pricing seems out of sync for a car of this size, but factor in the technology, performance features and the allure of the three-pointed car and it makes a more convincing case for itself.

For someone looking to get a taste of what AMGs are all about, the A 35 AMG strikes a good balance between sportscar levels of performance and everyday usability, without breaking the bank. 

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 39.90 lakh / Rs 56.24 lakh Rs 40.90 lakh
Warranty 3 years or Unlimited km 3 years or Unlimited km
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Engine Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse
Type 4 cyls, turbo-petrol / 4 cyls, turbo-petrol 4 cyls, turbo-diesel
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1332cc / 1991cc 1950cc
Bore/Stroke (mm) 72.2/81.4mm / 83/92mm 82/92.3mm
Compression Ratio 10.6:1 / 10.5:1 15.5:1
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 163hp at 5500rpm / 306hp at 5800-6100rpm 150hp at 3400-4400rpm
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 250Nm at 1620-4000rpm / 400Nm at 3000-4000rpm 320Nm at 1400-3400rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 113.19hp per tonne / 187.73hp per tonne 95.54hp per tonne
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 173.61Nm per tonne / 245.39Nm per tonne 203.82Nm per tonne
Specific Output (hp/litre) 122.37hp per litre / 153.69hp per litre 76.92hp per litre
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Drive Layout Front-wheel drive / All-wheel drive Front-wheel drive
Gearbox Type Dual clutch automatic Dual clutch automatic
No of Gears 7 8
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 4.462/6.47 / 3.857/7.40 4.051/7.55
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 2.647/10.91 / 2.429/11.57 2.842/10.77
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.438/17.69 / 2.905/17.03 2.737/15.37
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.976/26.06 / 1.189/24.01 1.92/21.91
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.755/33.69 / 0.872/32.74 0.951/32.19
6th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.6833/42.31 / 1.162/42.58 0.744/41.15
7th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.547/52.83 / 0.936/52.86 0.854/49.26
8th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.674/62.42
Final Drive Ratio 4.167/4.733:1 / 2.385/4.133:1 3.933/2.862:1
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 24.05m, 2.39s / 22.9m, 2.24s 24.05m, 2.39s
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City (kpl) 7.23kpl / 5.1kpl 12.54kpl
Highway (kpl) 12.27kpl / 11.82kpl 17.72kpl
Tank size (lts) 43 litres / 51 litres 43 litres
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.53s / 0.39s 0.65s
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.06s / 0.73s 1.17s
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.59s / 1.05s 1.69s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.24s / 1.49s 2.17s
0 - 50 kph (sec) 2.94s / 1.98s 2.77s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 3.76s / 2.49s 3.52s
0 - 70 kph (sec) 4.81s / 3.03s 4.37s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 5.89s / 3.66s 5.32s
0 - 90 kph (sec) 7.11s / 4.33s 6.39s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 8.50s / 5.13s 7.62s
0 - 110 kph (sec) 10.17s / 6.02s 8.99s
0 - 120 kph (sec) 11.98s / 7.00s 10.52s
0 - 130 kph (sec) 14.06s / 8.03s 12.42s
0 - 140 kph (sec) 16.52s / 9.14s 14.51s
1/4 mile (sec) 15.83s / 13.08s 15.26s
20-80kph (sec) 5.57s / 3.33s 4.49s
40-100kph (sec) 6.73s / 4.01s 5.87s
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Construction Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque
Weight (kg) 1440kg / 1630kg 1570kg
Front Tyre 205/55 R17 / 235/40 ZR18 205/55 R17
Rear Tyre 205/55 R17 / 235/40 ZR18 205/55 R17
Spare Tyre Space saver Space saver
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Independent, coil springs Independent, coil springs
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric Electric
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 11m / 11.54m 11m
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Disc Disc
Rear Disc Disc
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length 4549mm / 4558mm 4549mm
Width (mm) 1796mm / 1850mm 1796mm
Height 1425mm / 1411mm 1425mm
Wheel base 2729mm 2729mm
Front Track (mm) 1567mm / 1573mm 1567mm
Rear Track (mm) 1542mm / 1570mm 1542mm
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1350mm 1350mm
Ground Clearance (mm) 127mm / 113mm (est) 127mm
Boot Capacity (Lts) 405 litres 395 litres
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