With an options list consisting of zero items and in entry-level trim, our Jupiter Red Mercedes-Benz A180 test car was a very rare thing indeed – an unadorned press vehicle.
The motivation for equipping press fleet vehicles with every conceivable extra is easy to understand – we can’t recommend you go for a particular gadget or interior flourish if we’ve not experienced it ourselves.
But in no place are a car’s basic talents easier to judge than on a model with absolutely no options. On this evidence, the basic A-Class is a very talented car indeed.
Actually, that isn’t strictly true. Our A180 did have 16-inch wheels (15″ steels are standard), which brings with it sport suspension and speed-sensitive power steering. A press car can never be truly basic, it seems…
Regardless, what you lose out in looks to plusher or sportier trim levels – though the red A180 you see here is still a handsome vehicle – you gain in ride quality. On small wheels and sensible tyres, the A-Class is far more composed over bumps, and the steering feels more natural.
There’s still a slight delay in steering response, with a few degrees of lock needed before the car really feels like it digs into the corner, but the process now feels more fluid. In losing the superficial “sportiness” of a hard ride, you gain in daily driving.
Inside too, all is well. Once again, you lose the wonderful Alcantara and leather seats of sport variants and the tactile stiching on the dashboard and wheel, but you’re still a long way from poverty. The A’s interior remains comfortable and feels well-made.
Manual gearboxes in Mercedes always make us a little apprehensive, but the A180′s six-speed manual worked well. We’d have liked a little more throttle response – you need to prod it quite hard to feel the turbo’d 1.6 engine’s full 122 horsepower – but the clutch and gearlever are both light and easy to use.
Better still, our quick 20-mile drive, on country roads and through villages, returned an indicated 48 mpg – not far off the official figure.
Price as tested: 18,945
Combined MPG: 51.4
CO2: 129 g/km
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