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New models - Mercedes-Benz - A-class

AIMS: Benz prices A-Class from $35,600

A grade: Mercedes-Benz is confident the new A-Class hatch will boost volume in 2013, but will have to keep pushing the factory for supply.

High spec, competitive pricing means new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will gun for Golf

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15 Oct 2012

MERCEDES-BENZ is looking forward to “dramatic” growth in Australia next year, which will be due in no small part to the arrival of the vital all-new A-Class small car – which arrives in March priced from $35,600 plus on-road costs.

Dealers are now taking orders for the car, and Australians will get their first glimpse of the new A-Class in the metal on the Mercedes-Benz stand at the Sydney motor show from Friday – eight months after its world debut at the Geneva show.

Not only will the auto-only A-Class undercut the BMW 1 Series (from $36,900 as a manual) and crash the party of the third-generation Audi A3 that also arrives early next year at prices yet to be announced, Benz is going after mid- and up-spec variants of the humbler Volkswagen Golf.

Mercedes-Benz cars Australia managing director Horst von Sanden said 2013 will be “one of the most important years in our brand’s Australian history”.

In addition to the A-Class, Mercedes will launch the new S-Class, a facelifted E-Class and the CLA compact four-door coupe next year.

“We will continue to do what we do well,” said Mr von Sanden. “That’s to guide the Australian prestige market in a direction that makes our vehicles and technology accessible to a broader demographic”.

The A-Class will be sold in Australia with a choice of three petrol engines and a diesel – all featuring fuel-saving idle-stop technology and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle-shifters.

The company expects the mid-range A200 – available in petrol and diesel form – will account for the majority of A-Class sales here but did not reveal expected volumes or whether the A-Class will eventually oust the C-Class as Mercedes’ best-selling model in this country.

Recently appointed M-B Australia CEO Juergen Sauer told GoAuto the success of the A-Class here depends on how much supply can be obtained from the factory, especially initially, as production is still ramping up.

“I am confident we will fulfil our plans, but we will see how many cars we get from the production that is maybe another issue,” he said.

“If the perception with customers is good, it might come to the situation where you need more cars.”

Benz is confident the A-Class will follow in the wheel tracks of the larger B-Class in achieving a top ANCAP crash test rating.

It will come with a comprehensive suite of standard safety equipment, including a radar-based collision warning system, nine airbags, electronic driver fatigue detection and Pre-Safe, which readies the car for maximum occupant protection if it detects an inevitable collision.

Speaking at a pre-Sydney motor show event today, MBA product manager John Vasilj described the base A180 as “not like any entry model”.

Riding on 17-inch alloy wheels, the A180 comes with self-parking, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, an electric parking brake and a two-tone interior trimmed in a combination of fabric and leather-like Artico upholstery with contrast stitching and ambient lighting.

An ‘Audio 20’ infotainment and telematics system with 5.7-inch colour display, USB and Bluetooth interfaces for MP3 player and smartphone integration is also standard across the range.

Behind the body-coloured grille is a turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 90kW of power and 200Nm of torque that consumes 5.8 litres of 95 RON premium unleaded per 100 kilometres.

Customers looking at the mid-spec model have a choice of 115kW/250Nm petrol or 100kW/300Nm diesel engines in the A200, both of which are otherwise identically specified and priced at $40,900.

The A200 shows its place in the line-up via a chrome grille, 18-inch two-tone alloys and twin exhausts, and has a different upholstery design to the A180 – available in black or grey – plus a leather steering wheel, sportier instruments, a self-dimming interior mirror and electric folding exterior mirrors.

Fuel consumption for the A200 petrol, which uses a higher-output version of the A180 engine, is rated at 6.1L/100km, while the 1.8-litre diesel A200 sips 4.6L/100km.

Missing from the Sydney show stand will be the $49,900 A250 Sport hot hatch, which will serve as the flagship variant until the full-fat, all-wheel-drive A45 AMG arrives toward the end of next year.

Mr Vasilj said the A250 engine, suspension, transmission and exhaust have been “specifically engineered by AMG from the ground up”, and the Affalterbach hot-shop has also tweaked the front axle.

Its 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds – matching the forthcoming seventh-generation Golf GTI that was shown at the recent Paris motor show.

The visual transformation includes gloss black five spoke 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, lowered AMG sports suspension, red brake callipers, an AMG bodykit with red highlights, a perforated ‘diamond’ grille design, bi-Xenon headlights, a panoramic glass sunroof and rear privacy glass.

Inside are Artico-upholstered sports seats, carbon-look interior trim, red air-conditioning vent trims, an AMG steering wheel, sports pedals and red seatbelts.

Although the A250 Sport is priced at Golf R money, MBA corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis suggested that a five-door Golf GTI ($40,490) specified similarly to the A250 with automatic transmission, panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlights would end up with a similar price tag.

Mercedes will offer a set of option packs on the A-Class, including an $1190 satellite-navigation system that can be retrofitted into the glovebox, integrates with the standard audio system and can receive map or software updates via the internet.

Other packs include an AMG styling and suspension pack ($1990 on the A180 or $1490 on the A200), a driver assistance technology pack ($2990), a COMAND APS combined sat-nav and infotainment system upgrade ($2990) and a ‘night’ styling pack ($990 on A180 or $490 on A200).

Full details of the upcoming A45 AMG are still under wraps but MBA has promised it will cost less than $100,000 and be a “proper AMG” despite having only half the number of cylinders.

2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class pricing*
A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY 1.6L petrol (a)$35,600
A 200 BlueEFFICIENCY 1.6L petrol (a)$40,900
A 200 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY 1.8L diesel (a)$40,900
A 250 Sport 2.0L petrol (a)$49,900
*Plus on-road costs

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