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Mercedes-Benz A200 2005 Review

This two-litre three-door variant is really in a class of its own.
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Has the Baby Merc knocked off the Jazz? asks Mark Hinchliffe Benz still managed to sell more than 1 million of their baby entry-class cars in the past seven years, despite criticism of its driving characteristics. But now the second generation A-Class has hit the market.

It still costs substantially more than a Jazz, but its driveability, sophistication, creature comforts, safety features and shape are a marked improvement. And now there are more variants to choose from. There are three engines, instead of two, with a turbo due later this year. And for the first time it is available in a three-door.

From the outside, the bigger, wider, more spacious A-Class appears cuter, with pup seal eyes and rounded hips. The three-door varieties seem to emphasise that cuteness with cleaner, rounder lines down the sides.

I drove the new 2-litre three-door five-speed manual recently and immediately noticed the vastly improved interior.

Having stepped straight from a C-Class, it was evident that the classy instruments were shared, with only minor variations, and now include a multifunction steering wheel. Interesting that cruise control stays on, even if you change gears. Not sure if that is that a good thing or a bad thing.

Seat adjustment is still rudimentary with stiff winders for the back rest. Fine, if you want incremental adjustments, but a nuisance for some, such as older people with arthritis. That is a shame because older people would be attracted to the high hip level for entry, wide access doors and upright driving position.

Rear seat passengers get plenty of leg-room with 805mm between the front and rear seats, while shoulder room is up 97mm and boot space 15 per cent bigger, with two different floor levels. Importantly, the rear seats are now split and recline for more diverse cargo-carrying capacity.

Above you is a concertina sun-roof that allows a bigger area of glass. The interior sunroof cover is opaque, so it allows a bit of light through, even when shut. It would probably also make the car warmer when parked in the sun.

The cabin is quieter than before, except for the intrusion of engine noise. And the 2-litre engine does sound noisy. In fact, my daughter thought it was a diesel.

It clatters and groans until it evens out over 3000rpm. Low-down power is lacking and you can easily stall on hill starts unless you give it a fair revving. However, mid-range and top-end power is much improved. The turbo should have more low-down torque.

Under way, the new baby Merc feels solid and riveted to the road. There is no lifting and spinning of wheels around bumpy corners, little understeer, and certainly no fears of rolling.

The ride is good for a car with a 2568mm wheelbase. Front wheels feel the sharper bumps, but the rear spherical parabolic-spring axle rides through quite comfortably. The rear drum brakes finally have been replaced with discs and the result is responsive, progressive stoppers.

This two-litre three-door variant is really in a class of its own.

There is no direct Jazz comparison. No close rivals at all.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

A170 Avantgarde 1.7L, PULP, CVT AUTO $3,800 – 6,160 2005 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2005 A170 Avantgarde Pricing and Specs
A150 Classic 1.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $2,900 – 4,950 2005 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2005 A150 Classic Pricing and Specs
A170 Elegance 1.7L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,800 – 6,160 2005 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2005 A170 Elegance Pricing and Specs
A160 LWB Classic 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP SEQ $3,500 – 5,720 2005 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2005 A160 LWB Classic Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.