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First drive: Mercedes-Benz A-Class facelift – on sale July 17

Mercedes-Benz

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Review

2008 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz is part way though a mid-life refresher programme across its range, and the A-Class is the latest model to receive the facelift treatment.

It’s a subtle dose of botox for the baby Merc, with the revised grille, bumpers, lights and wheels the only exterior signs of an update.

The big changes are found in the model line-up, now slimmed down to meet the tastes of UK buyers.

None of the 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines will be sold here, and trim levels are cut back to the most popular Classic SE, Elegance SE and Avantgarde SE, which accounted for more than 98% of sales in 2007.

All models gain hill start assist and Bluetooth as standard, brake lights which flash during an emergency stop and interior lighting which activates after an accident.

Active parking assist is available as a £550 option, but seems a lazy choice on a car this small.

Mercedes-Benz has made no significant mechanical changes to the A-Class.

It’s smooth and quiet on the motorway, but lacks the agility of other city cars with light, remote steering and lots of body roll even at low speeds.

Blue Efficiency models join the range in October, including more fuel and CO2 efficient versions of the A160 CDI, A150 and A170.

The petrol models gain start-stop technology, which offer a claimed 9% improvement in fuel economy.

However, it’s less seamless than the BMW alternative, and requires the brake pedal to be pressed down, even with the handbrake engaged, which is likely to annoy drivers both in and around the car.

Specification Price: £14,190 - £18,640
Engines: 1.5-litre 94bhp petrol; 1.7-litre 114bhp petrol; 1.9-litre 82bhp and 109bhp diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 8.9-4.8sec; top speed 102-138mph
Transmission: 5/6sp man, 5sp auto
Efficiency: 42-63mpg; 119-188g/km CO2 emissions
CAP RV 3yr/30k: TBA
Rivals: BMW 1-Series, Audi A3, Mini

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