A brand new dawn for Mercedes A-Class

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Last year Mercedes-Benz Ireland told a room full of Irish motoring journalists that they had a busy model release schedule set up for 2013.

A number of new models were set to be introduced, with a strong emphasis on cars that would appeal to a new, younger customer.

The company presented a lot of facts and figures about how successful they believed the campaign would be and how excited they were to be taking the brand in a new and uncharted direction.

Brave words for a company that has, for so long, served the executive market; not only that, but their customer base has tended to be the mature driver.

The real head-scratcher for me at the time was the fact that a new A-Class range was set to be the cornerstone in attracting new customers.

The A-Class?

The A-Class, until now, was at best a second car or a family runaround. It would have about as much appeal to a younger, affluent driver, as a pair of corduroy pants and an argyle cardigan.

It was not a pretty car.

But I’m not afraid to say that the new incarnation has simply blown any memory of the previous A-Class clean out of the water. The looks tell their own story.

From men who have left their boy-racer days behind them, to ladies who will settle for nothing less than sheer style and class – this new model has it all.

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in the Urban spec model, and it left me with an entirely different impression of Mercedes.

This is not what a Mercedes is supposed to be – aggressive, with incredible style and elegance – depending on your choice, the A-Class is dynamic enough to fit a myriad style preferences.

As different from its predecessor as it is possible to be, the new A-Class sits 18cm closer to the ground – a lower-slung posture that gives it a distinctly sporty appearance.

And sporty it is.

There are many other cars in this segment claiming to have suspension and chassis designs that are intended to deliver a sporty performance – this often simply means it is rigid and sends every bump and crack in the road directly to the driver. Not so the A-Class.

I genuinely expected a bit of bone-crunching as I took the car along some of Dublin’s less well-paved streets, but it simply took them in its stride.

This car is not just pretty – it drives.

It boasts front-wheel drive, an idle-stop system as standard, and the incredible 1461cc diesel engine is linked to a 6-speed manual transmission.

I have to say I do not like putting manual Mercedes cars into reverse. They are not the only cars to have a trigger mechanism for getting into reverse gear – but the Mercedes one is just a little too awkward for such a premium car.

Continuing its youthful appeal, the car’s on-board high-tech functionality is such that iPhone Siri voice-activated units and iPad music and Apps can be played through the car’s infotainment system.

The price of this A180 CDI Urban model diesel version starts at €29,180 – and is predicted to take the spotlight, thanks in part to its greener CO2 emissions of just 98g/km.

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