I finally had the opportunity to drive the refreshed Mercedes-Benz A-Class!


Well, in a manner of speaking, that is, since I had an adrenalin-rush blast around Kyalami in the AMG 45 followed by an equally fun blast doing a Time Attack in an AMG 35 Sedan on a closed course in the middle of Sandton.


Now, at least I have a chance to drive in a much more respectable fashion on public roads and in the traffic and doing the same pothole dodging dance as all other motorists ā€“ first in the base A200 and then a re-acquaintance with the AMG 35 Sedan.


In terms of change, this is really just a refresh with the range getting a revised radiator grille and headlamps with the rear tweaked by a redesigned diffuser and standard LED lights.


Interior


The interior is quite significantly upgraded with, three-dimensionally embossed ARTICO upholstery and the freestanding dual-screen display with a 7-inch and the larger 10.25-inch display taking centre stage. Optional are two 10,25-inch displays but, which either choice comes an upgraded version of MBUX.


The driver and central displays can be customised as desired with the help of the newly designed display styles (Classic with all relevant driver information, Sporty with the dynamic rev counter, Discreet with reduced content), three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service) and seven colour worlds.


The central display offers all previous functions such as navigation, media, phone, vehicle, etc. and can be operated directly and conveniently as a touchscreen.


The telematics system has been revised and, connectivity with smartphones is possible via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto Wireless, and for further connectivity, an additional USB-C port has been added and the USB charging capacity increased once again. 


Safety


Safety assistance systems are also upgraded and, for example, the control of the Lane Keeping Assist is much more comfortable by using the Active Steering Control. The next generation of the Parking Package supports longitudinal parking and offers, among other things, 360-degree visualisation for camera-assisted parking using 3D images. 


The A 200 Hatch offers 120 kW and 250 Nm from its 2,0-litre turbo-charged petrol engine and has a claimed consumption of 6,4 l/100 km. While my time in the car was not really enough to test that, previous experience says it should be achievable.


The A 200 might be the base model but its standard fare (with plenty of options available) puts it squarely into the small car luxury category and it is one that would be very easy to live with. When required the engine responds rapidly to input and it is no slouch in getting up and going.


In the handling department, it pretty much mirrors the go-kart like point and squirt characteristcs on the A 45 AMG, tempered only the fact it has a bit less in the way of tyres and is not all-wheel drive.


Spirited Performer


The A35 AMG sedan, with a few more bits and bobs in the luxury department, provides a most pleasant environment for a driver and the spirited performer from Affalterbach, achieves an output of 225 kW with a maximum torque of 400 Nm.


Set to Comfort mode, it is a gentle city trawler that eases gracefully through the traffic without any of the protests that come from some high-performance engines forced to crawl along at very low speeds.


Turn on the fun stuff and it becomes a snarling beast, ready to rip up the tarmac and blut the passing scenery.



Agility


Whichever way you look at the A-Class range, they are desirable motor cars ā€“ and have Agility.


This is a new vehicle finance scheme from Mercedes-Benz that guarantees the Future Value (GFV) of the car after a negotiated period and mileage, giving the user a fixed monthly repayment for the period. At the end, the car can be bought for the value, returned and a new deal on a new car struck or retained with a new finance package.


This has advantages for fleet managers and individuals juggling life on a car allowance since the fixed-rate repayment eliminates fluctuations in the interest rate and removes uncertainties about trade-in values that are also subject to various ups and downs.


While the deal does take into account fair wear and tear over the period, any refurbishment or damage repair will be deducted from the Future Value and any items not falling within the parameters of the maintenance contract that comes with the car, will have to paid for at the time of service.


The base A 200 at R796 559 will cost you just shy of R15 000 a month on the Agility Plan with a GFV around the 52% of retail mark after three years and 60 000 km.


Essentially Agility has taken leasing off the corporate table and put it into the hands of individual users with, perhaps, a wider range of options in structuring the deal.


Colin Windell - proudly ALLTHINGSMOTORING