The first thing that normally comes to mind are elks… flipping cars and bad press. A car for grandpa who wants to do the reasonable thing and size down a bit, drive a solid car. Well, at least in my mind.
A few month ago then the first photos of the new A-Class design appeared and they were very far off from what we were used to until then. I was hooked. A very slick, modern and sporty design. It looks smaller and slimmer, but much more defined and with fantastic details. Ok, sure, design prototypes always come with all the passion and personality the designers want and can put into it before the suits get into the mix. Over time though photos of pre-production models appeared and they were much close to what I would have expected.
So you can imagine the pleasant surprise when I got an invitation to the A-Class Event. Mercedes Benz not only introduced a brand new car, but also prepared a wonderful Event in beautiful country I haven’t been to. Not much could go wrong. And if we stick to the organizational part of Mercedes Benz, as always they did a splendid job. Me on the other side decided to twist my ankle and destroy my brand new camera… so my experiences with the A-Class are unfortunately limited to one days drive.
Seeing the rows of A-Classes sitting there in the parking lot next to the Airport in Ljubiljana, Slovenia, I knew it would be a good experience. I am not a motor journalist, I am not an engineer, but I am a gearhead, or petrolhead depending on where you are from.its the emotional side that interests me the most. The technical most perfect car is not interesting, if it doesn’t spark an emotional reaction in me. The A-Class did that. Right in the beginning… its stance alone got me psyched enough after all the photos that I couldn’t wait to get in and get rollin’.
I got an A200 in red with the “Style” styling package and a manual gearbox. The styling package was wonderful, the seats, very cozy and elegant but with enough hold for a more sporty driving style. The silver-chrome accents and carbon fiber look details are just a perfect combo. I am not a huge fan of the silver white speedometer, but its certainly nothing that would annoy me.
The car feels great. I started it up, rolled off the parking lot and onto the beautiful roads of Slovenia. The car sits on the road wonderfully. You get immediate responses and and no point feel any surprises coming from the road. the A200s engine seemed to be powerful enough to have some fun. Uphill, downhill, on the straights and through all the winding roads. The one point that I didn’t like when trying to enjoy the great roads was the responsiveness of the gaspedal. It has a little… lets call it lag. no idea how many milliseconds it is and you most probably will not noticing it when driving to work or shopping every morning, but when you are on some beautiful roads and want to drive in a bit more sporty fashion, this might take away a little of the fun. Having a manual transmission made it possible to rev the car a bit more and kinda drive it like a Honda S2000, basically always in high RPMs. That also though is limited electronically, but I had a lot of fun driving it. Even in the rain you never felt out of control or ever got into a hairy situation. Talking about hairy, in one hairpin corner I got the car to understeer and push over the front tires very shortly, but besides that it behaved very neutrally.
Space wise it most probably is no wunderkind, but good enough. I had one of my stormcases with me and there was still enough space in the boot. Also with my 193cm I could sit very comfortably behind the wheel. Also the steering wheel felt very good in my hands. kinda close to the BMW M3s steering wheel, that for me is one of the few fantastic steering wheels ever made.
In the evening hours we had the great opportunity to drive the A250 Sport version of the new A-Class on a closed circuit on a small airport. Now we’re talking! I wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t sure how differnet the experience would be, so the whole experience came as a surprise. Driving behind the instructors over the small track was pure joy. The car was much more responsive, which is a huge relief. Its also corners much better and it still is as neutral as the A200 I drove before, if not even more neutral, as we were pushing the cars really hard. highspeed corners and hairpins, a little slalom and a straight. I am very impressed. On top of all these surprises these cars had all the double clutch, paddle shifted gearbox. And not only performance wise the A250 Sport was a pleasure, also details like the diamond front grill are just a wonderful addition to an already well and pleasantly designed car.
Well shortly after that I took the wrong step, twisted my ankle and broke my camera, so unfortunately my experience with the new A-Class ends here and I am missing some detail shots and so on, but I hope I could spark the interest in you too to check this car out. I for my part can’t wait to get some more time with the new A-Class.
One other thing that Mercedes Benz debut at this Event was the Mercedes Benz Social Publish. Here Mercedes Benz has built a platform where they aggregate everything MB related coming from all over the web. From their own material to blog-posts and photos from all around the web. You can search the database based on the timeline, car model, events, topics, the format or source. A fantastic idea and very well executed. As it is managed by themselves, you get the proper material and the creators get the proper credits. So if one is looking for Mercedes Benz related material, you can sure to find it there.
I am going to rest my foot a little now and as soon as I can get hold of my XQD card-reader or another way to get the video out of my D4, I will post a little video mix for you guys too.
Thanks to Mercedes Benz, and too all the nice people I met and met again. Always a great pleasure hanging out with you guys.
also you will see more of my stuff coming up on motorblog.com sooooooon!