When it comes to luxury cars, most people assume that all you pay for is the branding, durability, and technology of the car.
Of course, with our taxation system here in Malaysia, things get a tad confusing—especially the differences between locally manufactured cars, locally assembled cars (CKD), and foreign assembled cars. (CBU)
Mercedes recently launched the latest iteration in their A-Class range in two classes: the A200 and the slightly pricier A250.
The question is, is the new A-Class worth its price tag?
You’ve probably seen too many articles with jargon and technical terms that only petrol-heads would appreciate, so here is a quick rundown of what makes the car worth its price, in terms that everyone understands.
1. Keeping Your Baby Safe (That Includes Family Members As Well)
We’ll start off with something that most people would agree is worth paying for: safety features.
It isn’t advisable, but most of us have been guilty of losing focus while on the road. Whether it’s a long drive back in heavy traffic, or even having your mind preoccupied with something else, many accidents happen simply because we aren’t paying enough attention.
The A-Class provides something of a safeguard against such situations—the car can actually warn you of impending collisions, assist you with braking in dangerous situations, or even stop the car for you in emergency situations.
Known as Active Braking Assist, the autonomous braking system does however have a limit of 60 km/h, so don’t go flying about recklessly expecting the car to grind to a halt when needed.
So what happens if we’re already going too fast and there just isn’t enough road left? No amount of technology is going to save you then, right?
If you made that assumption, you’d be wrong. Named as the Pre-Safe System, the car uses the split seconds before an impending collision with some pre-emptive measures.
For example, the front seat belts automatically tighten and windows automatically shut to protect the occupants of the car. The front-passenger seat also moves into a more secure position.
Personally speaking, the most innovative safety feature here is the Pre-Safe Sound feature, where right before the crash, a special sound chip generates a noise that triggers a protective reflex in our bodies. It actually is reminiscent of the sound of a waterfall or ocean waves.
2. How Customisable Is “Customisable”?
Whenever I’m promised a “customisable” experience, I’m always inclined to dismiss it as nothing more than changing the colour scheme or being able to choose the colour of the leather stitching of the seats.
In the A-Class, however, Mercedes promises a whole new experience for the driver. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, allows you to adapt details that change the way each individual car feels for every individual driver.
For example, you’re given the option to actually tweak the ambient lighting of the car to fit your mood. Ideal to set that romantic mood when driving your significant other out for date night.
Besides that, the instrument cluster and touch buttons are also highly customisable—you can even set your instrument cluster to display your preferred navigation system (you can finally say goodbye to that plastic, ugly phone holder now).
The car also learns and adapts its settings to fit the owner/driver, with your favourite music playlists, regular routes to work all part of its learning curve. The way it works, the AI onboard takes into account your habits, and brings up suggestions like radio stations or faster routes to your workplace/home.
For those of us who have to endure long commutes to and from the office every day, fret not: you’ll now have someone to talk to. The LINGUATRONIC voice control system basically means that you can now use voice control to get tasks done.
While keeping both hands on the wheel, you can get the car to complete a variety of tasks, including reading text messages, sending text messages, or selecting radio stations and routes.
All you need to do? Say, “Hey Mercedes”. And don’t worry, you can just speak casually to it. It understands.
3. It Looks F***ing Sexy
Pardon my French, but the car really is something to look at.
From the aggressive front-end grille, to the sleek edges on both sides, to the simplistic elegant interior, there isn’t much not to like here.
The car may be classified as a compact car, but my colleague (standing at 6”5’) could still fit into the front seats, although the back seats were a little tight for him. You can still expect to comfortably fit 4 adults into the car, so long as they aren’t as tall as my colleague.
As for the interior, the car comes with a touchscreen that stretches from the instrument cluster: if you’re not too keen on using voice-controls, a few swipes will do the trick (whatever the task).
You can opt to either use the touchpad that is located next to your gear-shift, or use the touch-screen directly.
There isn’t enough space in an article for me to fully demonstrate every feature the car has to offer, but the guys at Mercedes have definitely created a car that will cause quite a few ripples.
The tagline that Mercedes has used with the A-Class has been “Just Like You”, for obvious reasons. From small nuances like lighting options to practical options like remembering your regular routes, the car really does emulate your habits.
If you’re considering getting a new car, go for a test drive. If you’re not, well—go for a test drive as well. You might just have a change of mind.
You can find out more about getting a test drive here.
This article is written in collaboration with Mercedes.