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Now the new A-Class has marked the first of many steps taken by Mercedes-Benz in attracting a youthful and sophisticated audience. The 'Baby Benz' as it’s been coined has been turning heads since its arrival into Ireland last year with dealer showrooms across the country experiencing a greater demand for test drives. The price is probably one of its biggest attractions because at €27,745 (ex works) it’s not out of reach and the reduction in engine size is also going to reflect on your tax and petrol or diesel bills. This A-Class is all about: big-car refinement in a smallish package. As any Mercedes owner will know, apart from the quality of the vehicles themselves, it’s the individual experiences that make Mercedes-Benz moments one-of-a-kind.

“Translating the new dynamic style of Mercedes-Benz into the compact class was a challenge that was great fun to tackle", explains Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz. "No other car in this segment is as progressive as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Absolutely typical for Mercedes is the sculptural shape of the A-Class. The character lines, in particular on its sides, lend the Mercedes-Benz A-Class structure and terseness. The new dynamic style is perceptible at first glance in the interior as well.”

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it and the all-important design features and driving experience. Brimming with innovation, the new A-Class is distinctly different from the model it replaced. With its low slung, sleeker, more aerodynamic body, it is 160mm closer to the road and boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.27. Most noticeable is its sharper more defined appearance, contoured side panels, a pronounced V-shape front, side air intakes, double slat vents on each side of the central Mercedes star, and a roof spoiler that conveniently hides all the aerials.

The new A-Class comes in three design packages – Style, Urban and Sports Pack. With front-wheel drive, the new four-link rear suspension has a range of settings that includes an optional sports setting with direct steer. Power comes from new, more powerful, low-emission diesel and petrol engines with outputs from 109 to 211bhp. An ECO start/stop function is standard across the range and helps reduce fuel consumption by up to 35%. Transmission is six-speed manual with 7G dual clutch automatic available as an option.

If you’re considering a diesel engine and a lot of drivers are nowadays – the  A180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY – is a 109bhp version that consumes 22 percent less fuel than its predecessor at just 98g of CO2 per kilometre. Also available is the A200 CDI with 136 bhp and a more powerful A220 CDI – a 170bhp unit that returns fuel savings some 25 percent better than its predecessor and already meets emission standards not due to come into force until 2015.

There are two turbocharged, direct injection petrol versions. The first is a 156bhp A200 which consumes 5.4 litres/100 km. Second is the more powerful 211bhp, A250 Sport. With 7G automatic transmission, this model still delivers an economical 6.1 litres/100km consumption and CO2 emissions of 143g.

When it comes to the aesthetics, the instrument panel on the new A-Class features two large round dials, smaller dial inserts with sporty red pointers, a free-standing display screen and a three-spoke steering wheel with 12 function buttons. Depending on model choice, among the standard or optional features are air conditioning, advanced audio system, electrically adjustable front sports seats with integrated head restraints and contrasting stitching, red seat belts, an intelligent lighting system, leather finished dashboard, electric windows all round and headlamp assist. Compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphone systems, its optional onboard high-tech functionality is such that voice-activation, music and apps can be played through the car’s infotainment system.

With space to accommodate five persons, the boot capacity is more than generous with 341 litres that’s expandable to 1,157 litres with 60:40 seatbacks folded. Three chassis and suspension set-ups are available while safety features embrace an array of assistance systems adopted from the larger models in the Mercedes-Benz range. These include, Collision Prevention Assist, Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake Assist and Brake Hold.

You can think of this as a really sophisticated but easy-going Merc that should fit in city parking spaces and shouldn't cripple you on car tax.  In short - go to the dealership, test drive this car and see why so many drivers are being completely seduced by this beauty.

Available in 12 approved dealerships across the country, the A-Class is available from €27,745 (ex works)

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