I have been a fuss-free driver. Of all the cars that I’ve owned so far, I’ve always gone for the best drive possible at the cheapest price. This may be why I’ve never understood how some people can “love” their cars and see their vehicle as part of their identity.
When Mercedes-Benz approached me to test-drive their newest A-Class Saloon, they told me that this car is stylish, practical, intelligent: the same qualities as the woman it appeals to. Perfect for a practical woman who juggles a full-time career, children, and family, the new A-Class Saloon is said to buck the trend of being a “boy’s toy” but serve the needs of a modern woman.
This pitch intrigued me. The woman they described sounds exactly like me: I work a busy schedule. I typically start my work day at 8am before my team comes into the office, and end my work day at 6.30pm, just in time to pick up my son from daycare and spending precious time with him before his bedtime. My work involves a lot of commuting for press events and meetings with clients or other business associates, and I spend my weekend making up for loss time by bringing my little one around – running errands, engaging in fun activities for him, and sneaking in a bit of time to meet up with my friends.
And guess who is with me every step of the way? Yes, my car. While I don’t care much for it, it definitely is more integral to my life than I have really thought.
So I decided to give the A-Class Saloon a whirl, and find out for myself if a car that’s smarter than what I’m used to driving will change my life in any way.
First look at it, the car body looks understated but quietly confident – not flashy. Exactly what I look for in a car – something that serves my needs without standing out too much.
Following which, the first thing I notice is how seamless the Keyless-Go function is. This allows me to open, start and lock the car conveniently, without the need of having a key in my hand. What this means is that I have the key in my handbag all the time, and was able to operate the car without needing to take it out – and it was incredibly smooth.
This function was most useful when I’m carrying my 1-year-old baby and other bags at the same time. Instead of struggling to find my car key from my bag to open the door, I can open the doors simply because my key is close to it. After settling down everything, I start the ignition with the press of a button. And then similarly, with a simple touch of the door handle, I can lock the door effortlessly when I get out of the car.
The Keyless-Go Convenience Package with Hands-Free Access (that enables hands-free and fully automatic opening of the boot lid with a kicking motion of the foot under the rear bumper) is one of the available options.
The next thing that caught my eyes is how sleek the dashboard looks. The dashboard is wing-shaped, and extends from one front door to the other with no visual discontinuity. The wide touchscreen display is sleek and easy to use (for controlling temperature, entertainment, and GPS) and I love that the air vents appear as sporty turbines that certainly add to the aesthetics of the vehicle. The ambient light can also be changed according to your preference and mood.
These features also make the compact car feel more spacious, thanks to the intelligent and avant-garde design.
The new A-Class Saloon is also equipped with the new MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience, which allows voice command to operate things like changing of music or lowering of temperature. I gave it a shot and find that instructions has to be clear and I had to speak slower for the system to pick up my instruction. To me, it was more of a nice frill to have, but at least for the three days of my test drive, I didn’t find myself using it much.
Sitting in the car and stepping on the accelerator was a good experience. The car is spacious and the seats are comfortable – the latter can be adjusted according to your preference and remembered based on the driver. In other words, if you share a car with your spouse, you can have two different settings and the car automatically adjusts to the preferred setting when you make the selection.
Its engine powerful but efficient. There are two engines available: A200 consumes 5.5 litres of fuel per 100km and accelerates from 0 to 100km in 8.1 seconds; the A250 consumes 6.4 litres of fuel per 100km and accelerates from 0 to 100km in 6.3 seconds. The drive is so smooth, it was possible for my husband who usually finds it hard to read when commuting to be able to do so more comfortably.
And if you’re into specs, you may want to know that the new A-Class Saloon actually holds the record of having the lowest aerodynamic drag of all production vehicles worldwide, which is why it feels so stable and is fuel-efficient.
The A-Class is also equipped with functions adopted from the S-Class to provide the latest driving assistance systems and high level of active safety – essentially making these advanced luxury functions accessible to the compact class.
For the first time, the A-Class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. Some of these features include:
- Active Distance Assist Distronic: Support the driver to automatically maintain the correct distance from the vehicle ahead, and give the driver noticeable steering assistance, even on bends
- Active Brake Assist: Depending on the situation, it can effectively help to mitigate the consequences of rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping, or stationary vehicles ahead, and even with crossing pedestrians and cyclists, or to prevent them altogether
- Active Lane Keeping Assist is able to warn the driver by means of pulsed vibrations in the steering wheel when the vehicle is unintentionally drifting out of its lanes at speeds between 60 and 200km/h. If the vehicle passes over a solid line, it can pull the vehicle back into lane by applying the brakes on one side. In the case of a dotted line, such intervention takes place only when there is a danger of collision with a vehicle in the adjacent lane (including danger from ongoing traffic).
Since these features are only activated according to the situation, I didn’t get to “try” them out during my test-drive period. I consider myself a rather safe driver, but knowing that these are equipped in a vehicle where I ferry my child around, makes me feel extra safe.
The three-day test drive draws one conclusion for me: while I wouldn’t go as far as to calling it life-changing, finding the right car that seems to have functions that fit right into your lifestyle so it is more comfortable is a luxury that I can’t say no to. As I (reluctantly) go back to driving my car, at the back of my mind I know I’d make the A-Class Saloon one of the top options to consider when it’s time to change my vehicle. And when that happens, I think I’d become one of those people who “love” their car – because I can totally see how the A-Class Saloon is an extension of who I am.
You can find out more about the new A-Class Saloon on the Mercedes-Benz website.