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2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class: U.S-Bound Premium Compact Driven

 
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2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class

Big German automakers used to thrive on producing large, luxurious sedans.

Built seemingly to last forever, they were vehicles of aspiration, a cut above volume vehicles from other carmakers.

How things change. Aspiration may still be a part of owning a Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi, but now gas mileage and practicality are as important as size and luxury. The 2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class is designed to cover all those bases and more.

A Class: A brief history

Previous generations of A Class were rather different.

First launched in 1997, the original tall, space-efficient A Class quickly had its reputation shattered by rolling during a swerving avoidance test in a Swedish magazine.

Hasty corrections--such as now-standard technology like Active Stability Control--fixed its wayward handling, but turned the otherwise well-designed small car into a tedious thing to drive. Late-90s Mercedes quality was also well below par.

The second generation launched in 2004. Quality jumped up, handling improved, and a three-door model was added. Practicality was similar though: Both original A Class generations featured high cabin length to vehicle length ratios. The original A Class featured interior space similar to the contemporary E Class.

1997 Mercedes-Benz A Class

1997 Mercedes-Benz A Class

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2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class

The new A Class is essentially unrecognizable from its forebears.

Now a two-box design rather than a one-box; lower, wider, sportier and altogether more aggressive, it's pitched directly at the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Volkswagen Golf and Lexus CT 200h. You can judge the styling yourself from the images.

Words like "sporty" and "dynamic" permeate the official literature. "Efficiency" too--new small-capacity turbocharged engines and a low 0.27 drag coefficient raise economy to impressive levels.

How impressive? Well, we drove two examples--the gasoline-powered A250 BlueEfficiency with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and the A200 CDI, a turbocharged diesel, also with the 7-speed DCT.

In optimistic European testing the former gets an official 38 mpg combined, the latter 54.7 mpg. Bank on 30-31 mpg and 43-44 mpg as an EPA-equivalent figure.

While we couldn't take a reading from the A250, the trip computer showed an average of 47 mpg in the A200 CDI by the end of an 80-mile journey through the UK's beautiful Peak District.




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Comments (3)
  1. Did you really mean 0 to 52 in 6.6 seconds or 0 to 62 (100kph)?

    I have always liked the A class and have a model of one at home.
     
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  2. Hi George,

    I did indeed mean 62 mph, slip of the finger! I'm also a fan of the original A Class, we had one in the family for a while. Interesting design but poor quality, unfortunately.
     
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  3. Nice to hear that this model is finally coming to the U.S. Too bad
    we didn't have access to the previous one.

    Was the 47 mpg you observed for Imperial gallons (4.55 litres) or
    US gallon (3.79 litres)?
     
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