Mercedes-Benz A-class Limousine review, road test

    Published on Jun 02, 2021 08:00:00 AM

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

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