Mercedes-Benz has been coming up with some pretty snazzy design of late, but I don’t think anyone expected the new look A-Class to be such a radical transformation from its predecessor.
Unlike the tall, high-backed outgoing model, the new one is sleek, stylish and – particularly in the AMG styling of the model I tested – has curves in all the right places.
If you approach it from the front you would think it was any one of a number of the larger Mercedes-Benz saloons, but as you get closer you suddenly realise that it’s much shorter and is in fact a hatchback.
And in many ways its styling is so radical it dates some of the more expensive, traditional models.
Either way, because of its looks and size, it’s a car which has equal appeal to both sexes and will be just as popular with the businessman looking for a prestige brand to impress his peers as with the mum on the school run.
Prices for the A-Class start from around £18,800 but my test car, an A220 CDI BlueEfficiency AMG Sport had a price tag – without the optional extras it had fitted – of more than £27,000, which puts it into the entry level price bracket of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The BlueEfficiency AMG Sport comes with the appearance of an AMG model but without the blistering performance normally associated with AMG. That means you get the AMG bodystyling – front apron, rear apron, side skirts and 18-inch AMG alloys– but with a more sensible and economical diesel engine under the bonnet.
Not that the 2.2-litre diesel is lacking in performance, however, with a very respectable 0-62 miles per hour time of just 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 137 miles per hour. The bonus is it will average more than 64mpg, which you won’t get from any AMG model.
The impressive sporting theme continues in the cabin too, with high-backed sports seats in artificial but convincing black leather, aluminium sports pedals with rubber studs and a flat bottomed multifunction sports steering wheel. The seats and steering wheel are trimmed in AMG-style red stitching.
And one thing I really liked was the slightly padded, carbon-fibre-look dashboard, giving the interior a highly original appearance and complementing the black roof lining. The four cylinder engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox operated from a column change, although there are also paddles behind the steering wheel so you can change gear manually.
And a dial on the dashboard allows you to drive in eco mode or sport should you want more frugal or more spirited performance.
The auto box is seamless in operation and there is a nice throaty roar from the exhaust when you get the revs up.
The sports suspension on this model is lowered by 15mm compared to the standard A-Class and it’s fitted with a Dynamic Handling package and selective damping so when you opt to corner it hard the already firm suspension tightens up even more to give some dynamic handling.
The AMG Sport is an expensive version of the A-Class, but it’s easy to see why anyone who enjoys driving would opt for it.
Mercedes-Benz A220 CDI Blue-Efficiency AMG Sport
Mechanical: 170 bhp, from 2143 cc, four cylinder diesel engine driving front wheels via a sevenspeed automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 137 mph
0-62 mph: 8.2 secs
Combined mpg: 64.2
CO2 emissions: 115 g/km
Warranty: 3 years unlimited mileage