Mercedes A-Class Limousine: Our views after a day of driving

Summing up, the diesel is eager, with plenty of poke low-down and mid-range. Pairs well with the excellent 8-speed DCT, and can be at home both in-city and on expressways…whether crawling, cruising or sprinting

Mercedes A-Class Limousine 2.0L Diesel AT Review

The A200D is powered by a 1,950cc, 4-cylinder diesel engine that produces 148 BHP and 320 Nm of torque. Coupled with an 8 speed DCT transmission, Mercedes claims a 0-100 km/h timing of 8.2 secs, together with a fuel efficiency figure of 21.35 km/l. On paper, it is faster, more fuel-efficient (than the petrol) and has a lesser CO2 emission figure of 124 g/km as against 135 g/km on the petrol.

The diesel starts up with a bit of clatter and a light shake when cold, but settles to a thrummy idle once warmed up. It’s not the most refined specimen out there and nobody will mistake it for anything other than a diesel, but not annoyingly so. Engine noise becomes evident at anything above 2,500 rpm.

The abundant torque available from low down is very evident as one moves off from a standstill, and it doesn’t miss a beat as the DCT climbs up the gears. City driveability is good & turbo-lag is well controlled. We didn’t do a timed run but the claimed 0-100 timings seem perfectly achievable. The mid-range is great and, combined with the slick DCT, it can really move. The AT is well mated to the engine.

Throttle response is relatively muted in Eco. Upshifts happen early and progress is smooth and sedate. Perfect for city driving and being chauffeured around. Let the powertrain do the work while you relax with your favourite music in B2B traffic.

Switch to Comfort and you can perceive the engine’s changed behaviour. Comfort mode is versatile, to the point of being dual-personality. It’s a lot more eager than Eco, but stays composed and balanced even if you go heavy on the right foot. Downshifts are still smooth but snappier, and we were able to close a gap in traffic (or overtake on an undivided carriageway) by just poking the accelerator. This is probably the best mode of the lot. Well-balanced overall, and will probably become the most-used mode for buyers irrespective of traffic conditions.

Switch to Sport, and it’s really yanking at the leash. Upshifts happen higher up the revs, the motor growls as it puts the torque down, and progress is brisk. Gears are held longer, although not annoyingly so. Up & downshifts are a little jerkier here. Sport is a bit too eager, firm and jumpy for crawling through city traffic on the way to office. Good if you’re sprinting solo on smooth expressways and in the mood for fun only.

Summing up, the diesel is eager, with plenty of poke low-down and mid-range. Pairs well with the excellent 8-speed DCT, and can be at home both in-city and on expressways…whether crawling, cruising or sprinting.

Note that the speed alert chime is LOUD, but the tone used is not distinctive and can easily be mistaken for a smartphone notification, especially for the single beep 80 km/h warning.

Mercedes A-Class Limousine 1.3L Petrol AT Review

The A200 is powered by a 1,332cc, 4-cylinder petrol engine that produces 161 BHP and 250 Nm of torque @ 1,620-4,000 rpm. Coupled with a 7 speed DCT transmission, Mercedes claims a 0-100 km/h timing of 8.3 secs, together with a fuel efficiency figure of 17.5 km/l. We took one for a short spin and below are our first impressions.

This motor, unlike the diesel, has a laggy bottom end and is noisy when revved, in a boomy rather than a throaty sort of way. But coupled with the quick shifting DCT – it’s pleasant enough and adequate when driven sedately, so if you are looking at driving calmly, you should be okay.

The petrol launches well and can sprint through the punchy mid-range, but the boomy drone and mediocre top-end means it gets boring and/or annoying quickly. Will disappoint anyone used to high-revving, redline-happy petrols.

If the characteristics sound familiar, yes, it’s from the same family as the Duster 1.3L Turbo and has been co-developed with Renault-Nissan. Competent motor for the sub-20L segment, but not for ‘Mercedes’ money.

In our opinion, the 2.0 diesel is the superior motor, offering great performance in all scenarios. The petrol is adequate for sedate use, and badge value obviously matters in the luxury segment, but petrol enthusiasts looking for outright performance should look elsewhere.

Gearbox Impressions

Both gearboxes are smooth, quick-shifting and don’t get confused or hunt for gears in any of the automatic modes. Upshifts and downshifts are mostly only perceptible from a change in engine note in Eco & Comfort driving modes, but can get a little jerky in Sport mode. We were never stuck in the wrong gear waiting for a shift, and the gearboxes felt very responsive overall.

M can only be engaged through the paddles, but there is no pure manual mode in which the gearbox will remain in “M”. The gearbox moves back to “D” after a couple of seconds. We have noticed this in some other Mercedes models too. Hence, you will be using “M” mainly when you want a downshift or engine braking. Also, the DCTs don’t hold gear at high revs in M mode.

The response time to your paddle shift commands has no perceptible lag.

Driving Modes

The car is equipped with FOUR driving modes, three preset – Eco, Comfort & Sport and one DIY – Individual Mode.

Eco: As the name suggests, it’s the economy mode tailored for sedate driving and fuel economy. Throttle response is muted, and the engine takes a while to respond. On the diesel, it’s perfectly suited for the urban crawl and being chauffeured around. The petrol with its weaker bottom end will demand some patience.

Comfort: This one’s versatile, and perfect to exploit the diesel’s wide mid-range. Well-balanced combination of smooth shifts and an eager motor at your beck & call with a single tap of the right foot. Our favorite mode, equally at ease in-city and on the highway. The petrol feels most at home in this mode too.

Sport: The most aggressive option, and best left for occasional spirited solo drives or with a like-minded co-passenger. Revs stay high, gears are held longer, and shifts can get aggressive, more so if clubbed with Manual mode. Throttle response isn’t a world apart from Comfort, while the ride experience is considerably jerkier. Not worth the trade-off, in our opinion.

Individual: One for the Do-It-Yourself folk who want everything just right. Nice to play around with different parameters, but it doesn’t really make a world of difference like in higher-powered performance cars. Still nice to have if you want some combination not met by one of the presets.

Mercedes A-Class Limousine Ride, Handling and Braking

Ride quality is compliant and comfortable, but not plush. Passengers will notice road undulations & surface imperfections, but not feel them in the spine. Taller tyre sidewalls definitely help. Suspension travel range isn’t huge, and going over potholes or flyover joints will transfer into the cabin.

The car feels compact and perfectly sized for urban use, while the light steering at city speeds makes it a breeze to potter around. Decent turning radius reduces the need to make too many 3-point U turns. The steering firms up well at higher speeds, but does not offer much in terms of feedback.

When driven spiritedly, the A-Class feels planted in a straight line with no unnerving vertical suspension travel on undulations. Typical Mercedes in that sense. Understeers predictably for a FWD when cornering at high speeds, and hard cornering can unsettle the rear.

ORVMs are a size too small, compromising visibility. The IRVM is restricted by the thick C pillar design and high surface behind the rear seat. Will need rear cameras and sensors to reverse & park confidently. A special mention when we’re talking about sensors. The Park Assist system is overly sensitive, and beeped constantly if anyone got anywhere in the vicinity. Might get annoying on congested Indian streets.

All-disc setup means the anchors shed speed effectively, although the pedal feel isn’t progressive. It’s a bit sensitive and bites quickly in the initial part of pedal travel, needs some getting used to. No issues braking from higher speeds, and the car always stopped without a fuss in a straight line.

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