1 May 2005
By CHRIS HARRIS
The second-generation W169 Mercedes-Benz A-Class learned some hard lessons from its predecessor and from the outset was a wholly balanced design with more space, cleanly sculpted looks and the introduction of a three-door version that brought the entry price below $30,000.
The A-Class now offers four engines: a base 1.5-litre, a 1.7-litre, a 2.0-litre and a 142kW 2.0-litre turbo.
The 70kW 1.5-litre struggles a bit, but otherwise the A-Class is adequately powered, better-handling, more spacious and more refined than the W168.
The transmissions are better too, with a conventional manual five-speed replacing the previous clutchless sequential gearbox (six speeds in the turbo) and a continuously-variable CVT available across the board.
The wheelbase is longer than the original short-wheelbase version, although slightly shorter than the long-wheelbase version. Parking in tight spots is consequently a tad harder, although the A-Class is still diminutive in overall length.
Overall it’s less a compromised package than the original, with excellent load space available even with all seats in place, becoming quite gargantuan if both the rear and front passenger seats are removed.