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NEW MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS COMES WITH WIDESPREAD APPEAL By Brian Foley

The new compact Mercedes-Benz A-Class sports distinctive styling to match the driving dynamics and is certain sure to appeal to a new and younger generation of motorists, as well as older dedicated owners opting for downsizing whilst remaining loyal to Three Pointed Star brand. First models are now in the dealer showrooms during December ahead of the January sales rush, and there are more variants to come through 2013.

First arrivals are the A180 petrol version at €26,435 and A180 CDI diesel version at €28,550 (ex-delivery). The diesel is most likely to be in big demand, due, in part, to its greener CO2 emissions of just 98g/km However for motorists who do not clock up high annual mileage, the economical petrol version is very attractive, especially as the price difference of over €2K would buy a lot of petrool.

Both models come with choice of three specifications and equipment lines – Style, Urban and Sports Pack. Entry models are equipped with Style Pack features that include items which, were they purchased separately, would cost €1,600.

Optional on board high-tech functionality is such that iPhone Siri voice-activated units and iPad music and Apps can be played through the car’s infotainment system.

The new A-Class is a whole new design as different from its predecessor as it is possible. Gone is the double or sandwitch floor, resulting in the car sitting 18cm closer to the ground. The front-wheel-drive design is retained (similar to the B-Class), 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. New four-link rear suspension has a range of settings that includes an optional sports setting. Collision Prevention Assist, Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake Assist and Brake Hold are all part of the standard safety features.

Since it first appeared at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, worldwide interest in the new A-Class has been so intense that a backlog of orders already exists in Europe. . Here in Ireland, Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales manager Ciaran Allen expects supply to keep pace with initial demand at least.

“In keeping with its high-tech image, the launch plan includes a heavy concentration on Facebook and smart phone App technology to create an ‘interactive platform’ whereby prospective customers can learn about the A-Class and scroll through its features to model the version they like best” Mr. Allen said.

As regards its advanced environmental features, the A-Class 180 CDI is acknowledged by the German TÜV organisation as offering fuel savings of up to 26 percent, emissions as low as 98g CO2/km, a best in class CD value of 0.27 and petrol engines that comply with Euro 6 emissions standard. Over its entire life cycle from production to recycling, it is estimated that the A-Class, in the guise of the A180 BE version, will produce 5.7 tons less emissions than its predecessor and meets the stipulated recycling rate of 95 percent by weight.

The sales success of the A-Class is bound to effect two other Mercedes-Benz models, the B-Class and the C-Class. The C-Class is now rather dated in style, and with a new model not due until 2014 the keenly priced A-Class with its more modern lines, latest technology and top quality could well win sales from the conventional C-Class.