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Mercedes-Benz A-class

(1997 - 2004) 

Mercedes-Benz A-class

The A-class Mercedes is a brilliantly packaged small MPV

Engine Engine power Fuel consumption Fuel type 0-100 (0-60) Top speed
1.6 CDI 60 hp 4.7 l/100km Diesel 17 s 155 km/h
1.6 CDI 75 hp 4.8 l/100km Diesel 15.1 s 162 km/h
1.4 82 hp 7.4 l/100km Petrol 12 s 170 km/h
1.4 L 82 hp 7.7 l/100km Petrol 13.2 s 170 km/h
1.7 CDI 90 hp 5.2 l/100km Diesel 12 s 175 km/h
1.7 CDI L 95 hp 5.5 l/100km Diesel 12.4 s 180 km/h
1.7 CDI 95 hp 4.9 l/100km Diesel 12 s 180 km/h
1.6 L 102 hp 7.8 l/100km Petrol 11.1 s 180 km/h
1.6 102 hp 7.8 l/100km Petrol 10.8 s 180 km/h
1.9 L 125 hp 8.1 l/100km Petrol 9.1 s 198 km/h
1.9 125 hp 8.3 l/100km Petrol 8.8 s 198 km/h
2.1 Evolution 140 hp 8.6 l/100km Petrol 8.2 s 203 km/h
2.1 L Evolution 140 hp 8.6 l/100km Petrol 8.4 s 203 km/h

Body type Hatchback
Number of doors 5
Number of seats 5
Engine position Front
Driven wheels Front
Length 3 575 mm
Width 1 719 mm
Height 1 575 mm
Wheelbase 2 423 mm
Ground clearance ?
Weight (normal) 1 100 kg
Weight (max) 1 560 kg
Boot space (min) 350 l
Boot space (max) 1 000 l
Fuel capacity 54 l


   The Mercedes-Benz A-class was produced since 1997.

   A wide range of engines was developed for the A-class. Furthermore even the the 102 hp is more than enough for such a small car. The 1.6 petrol and the 1.7-litre turbo diesel are the best for motorway work, but even the sweet 1.4 isn't out of its depth. The weak link is the feeble 1.6-litre diesel.

   The A-class' behavior has been affected by the measures taken to avoid a repeat of the roll-over in the infamous elk test double swerve. Sophisticated electronics and firm suspension prevent that happening again so the car suffers little body roll. Ride quality suffers, however, although the long-wheelbase version is less choppy, if still unsettled.

   There's road noise on some surfaces and the engines become vocal if made to work hard, but on main roads the overall level of noise is modest, although the firm suspension tends to clatter slightly over poorer surfaces. The cabins are rattle-free but the notchy manual gearboxes and sharp clutch take-up conspire to irritate in town.

   Classic-spec models are relatively inexpensive, but moving up to something better equipped exposes steep price increases, and all versions are costly to service. Fuel economy figures are excellent. Resale values are consistent across the range, albeit nowhere near those commanded by Mercedes' saloons.

   The good news is that A-classes are not known for breaking down or falling apart, even under the onslaught of the average family. That said, the cabin materials lack that veneer of quality expected of a Benz.

   Mercedes has taken every precaution to ensure that there is no chance of a repeat of that early roll-over during testing. Anti-lock brakes, ESP anti-skid electronics and twin front and side airbags are all fitted as standard. Security provisions aren't quite as impressive, as Mercedes refused to fit deadlocks.

   Driving an A-class can feel strange until you get used to it. You sit in an almost straight-legged coupe-like position behind the wheel, but your view over the hefty dash is more like that in an MPV. This compromises visibility; the nose is invisible while the rear is hard to judge for parking. The cabin is well laid-out but short of storage.

   Packaging is the A-class's forte. Approach it as a four-seater and you'll have little to complain about, while the longer wheelbase increases rear legroom to limousine levels. The modest boot space can be increased by stripping out all but the driver's seat, and there's plenty of variation possible in-between. Brilliant in concept and execution.

   Every model has front electric windows and powered heated mirrors, plus a CD player and remote central locking. Elegance and Avantgarde trims add alloy wheels, rear electric windows and air-conditioning system.

   The Mercedes-Benz A-class was redesigned in 2004.


   Advantages: Brilliantly packaged small MPV with a great badge and image. High safety count.

   Disadvantages: Trim quality and driving experience not up to usual Mercedes Benz standards. Dull to drive.

   Verdict: Cleverly packaged, but too many flaws.

   Also consider: MINI, Mitsubishi Space Star.


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Mercedes-Benz A-class

Mercedes-Benz A-class

Mercedes-Benz A-class

Mercedes-Benz A-class

Mercedes-Benz A-class

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