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Mercedes will be cheaper than Commodore

"It’s early days but we estimate about half of [A-Class] buyers will never have owned a Mercedes before".

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class will start at $35,600 plus on-road costs when it arrives in local showrooms in March - compared to the RRP of $39,990 for the basic fleet version of the Commodore sedan.

In yet another grim sign of the competition facing locally-made cars, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch will also come with more equipment and better fuel economy than what was once Australia’s favourite car.

The new baby Benz comes standard with nine airbags (to the Commodore’s tally of six), crash avoidance technology, a rear view camera and tyres that will never go flat, even when punctured. It will also be easy on the wallet at the petrol pump: sipping just 5.8L/100km - about one-third less than the most efficient Commodore.

The miserly Merc will also have longer service intervals - requiring a visit to the dealer once a year or every 25,000km (whichever comes first), compared to nine months or every 15,000km for the Holden Commodore.

"The economy is doing well, the personal savings of Australians are at an all-time high … and now we have a car that’s within the reach of families and young buyers," said Horst von Sanden, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Australia passenger cars. "In Europe, families drive this type of car and if you look at small-car sales here, Australians are also embracing this trend. People are asking: ‘how big does my car need to be’?”

Interest in Mercedes’ new cut-price model is so strong the company air-freighted three models for display at the Sydney Motor Show, which opens this Friday. "It’s early days but we estimate about half of [A-Class] buyers will never have owned a Mercedes before," he said. Not everything about the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is cheap, though. Metallic paint adds $1190 to the price. On a Holden it is $550.