By Seán Creedon
Car companies are forever upgrading their cars. Often the improvements are minimal and only the pedantic among us can speak with confidence about the changes.
But there is no mistaking the new version of the Mercedes A Class.
The car which originally had high roofline has been ‘flattened’ and now we get a gorgeous looking motor, which is well able to compete with rivals like the BMW’s 1-Series, Audi A3 and the Volvo V40.
This is the fourth version of the A Class and you may remember that the first one in 1997 famously failed the ‘moose test.’ The moose or elk test is used to test the breaking and swerving power of a car.
After a Swedish journalist overturned his test car in the moose test, Mercedes added electronic stability control and spent a lot of money rectifying the problem.
Many years ago I used to link Mercedes cars and gold watches together. When you retired you might be presented with a gold watch and at that stage of your life if you were rich enough, you might then treat yourself to a Merc.
Now every car event I attend at Mercedes’ Irish headquarters on the Naas Road, their sales manager Ciaran Allen keeps reminding us that the company continues to attract younger buyers. The average age for an A-Class buyer is now down to 35.
This new version has a more sloping bonnet and lower, angular headlights plus a grille that houses the famous three-pointed star.
The cabin has got a make-over with dual infotainment screens and all the usual Mercedes buttons and slave controls on the steering wheel.
Black is the dominant interior colour, apart from some red stitching on what are very comfortable seats.
There is now more head, shoulder and elbow space and it’s all rounded off with ambient light options that has 64 different colour choices.
You also have access to a new ‘friend’ in the cabin and the voice activation service can be assessed by simply saying ‘Hey Mercedes.’ Then if the ‘lady’ understands your accent everything is fine, if not there may confusion.
In the back there is room for three adults, but with that bulky power-train going right down the middle, it’s probably more comfortable with just two adults in the rear.
Boot space has been improved and while there is a ‘well’ for a spare wheel, initially you will have to settle for a repair kit, unless you are good at haggling.
I drove a Polar white version and while the weather in Ireland was good last week, it reminded me of holidays in the Canaries where all the taxis in use seemed to be Mercedes cars.
Love Island star Maura Higgins, who says she wants to buy a Merc, will probably opt for a white version also.
Prices start at €31,600 for the A180d automatic, while my A200 AMG line automatic started at €36,635.
There is a range of ‘goodies’ available as standard, but my 1.4-litre petrol test car did have a few extras, which brought the price of the car as tested up to €43,332. Also available in 1.5-litre diesel. Road tax is €270.
In the past I would be nervous driving a brand new Mercedes, but it’s amazing what age and experience can do for you.
So no need to wait for your retirement, if you want to be seen a classy motor, have a test drive in this A-Class.