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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - A-class - hatch range

Launch Story

Mercedes-Benz logo17 Oct 2008

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

MERCEDES-BENZ this week launched its facelifted A-class in Australia, including the first diesel-engined model in the range - in the form of the A180 CDI.

Company spokesman David McCarthy said he expects the new entry-level diesel model to add incremental sales for the brand, estimating between 300 and 400 unit sales a year on top of its current annual sales rate of around 1000 units.

Sales have slumped by 33.4 per cent this year, but Mercedes-Benz puts this down to the impending introduction of the facelift and expects a recovery in the latter part of this year and in 2009.

Priced from $39,900, the new A180 CDI is available only in the five-door ‘saloon’ model but comes with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) option as well as the standard six-speed manual.

Other models in the revised and upspecced A-class range have increased in price by between $300 and $900, with the base A170 three-door ‘coupe’ with 1.7-litre petrol engine rising by $500 to $35,500.

The A-class facelift is mainly cosmetic, with revised headlights, radiator grilles (different for each model level), front bumper with wider intake, tail-lights, rear bumper, wing mirrors (in body colour), wheels and three new metallic paint finishes.

Inside are some trim variations, the addition of leather steering wheel and gear knob trim, the addition of rear electric windows in the five-door models, Bluetooth connectivity and new audio systems, including iPod integration.

Mercedes has upgraded the electronic stability control system to include a hill-holder function that maintains brake pressure until you touch the throttle when you are stopped on a slope so that the car does not roll backwards.

Also new to the A-class range is the availability of an active parking assist system called Parktronic, which automatically steers the car into a parallel parking space while the driver operates the throttle and brakes.

Parktronic is standard on the A200 and A200 Turbo models and on other models comes as part of the optional ($4680) Metro that also includes the CVT transmission and cruise control.

Although the new turbo-diesel model is called an A180 CDI, the four-cylinder common-rail injected engine is actually a 2.0-litre unit – the same as has been available for some time in the larger B-class – and produces 80kW of power at 4200rpm and 250Nm of torque from 1600-2600rpm.

In the five-door A-class, the diesel provides 0-100km/h acceleration of 10.8 seconds and fuel consumption of 5.2L/100km

The A180 CDI comes in standard specification, which includes ESC, ABS with brake assist, eight airbags, a full-size spare wheel, climate control, a split-fold rear seat and a multi-function steering wheel.

The revised A-class range is on sale now.

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