From £20,715
Mercedes class and build quality, but CVT 'box disappoints
Autocar
20 September 2008

What is it?

This is the Mercedes A-class fitted with the least powerful version of the company’s recently revised 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit and a CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission).

The gearbox has five ‘fixed’ ratio positions in its ‘manual’ model, but moves steplessly when left in automatic.

What's it like?

For my money, the A-class is one of the classiest superminis or small family hatches that you can get.

The interior is genuine Mercedes, albeit on a budget, and the fit and finish of our test car was excellent. My only reservation about the standard car is that there is no reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

The driving position is pretty good anyway, but there's no harm improving it.

Now, how much of an improvement is the CVT gearbox? The unfortunate answer is 'none at all'.

A gentle prod of the accelerator gets you tickling along smoothly in slow-moving town traffic, but that's about as good as it gets.

Push the pedal to the floor and the engine revs fairly freely to 4200rpm and stays there. Lots of noise, but little action: it would be misleading to suggest that there’s no acceleration, but it’s not far off the truth.

It's almost impossible to pull onto a free-moving motorway without sending trucks swerving from Lane 1 – and overtaking anything quicker than a tractor on A roads requires nerves of steel.

The reward for this lack of performance, if you inch your way through town, is effortless fuel economy – up to 48mpg if my experience of inner-London traffic is anything to go by.

Should I buy one?

The lack of automatic diesel superminis means that, if you can stand the price, the CVT A-Class has its market pretty much sewn up.

And, in town, it makes a good case for itself, being smooth and relaxing in stop-start traffic. But if you plan to spend time on the open road then steer well clear.

Ed Keohane

 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Join the debate

Comments
16
Add a comment…
JLM 28 July 2013

Hi

Great car!!!!

RobotBoogie 20 October 2008

Re: Mercedes-Benz A160 CDI

theonlydt wrote:
Oh and why on earth would anyone want a car that can park itself?

I work in marketing and can answer that question. It's all the people who can't parallel park.

kerrecoe 20 October 2008

Re: Mercedes-Benz A160 CDI

I can explain that Robotboogie- this forum (like most others) is populated by people that are under the impression that if a product doesn't suit their specific requirements exactly it must be a piece of sh1t and worthy of complete contempt. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding that we are individuals who all need slightly different things from a car. If that were not the case, we'd all be driving round in Ford Focus hatches. Get some perspective- haven't you got more important things to worry about?

Incidentally, these A Classes are fantastic value on leasing deals, personal and business and Merc itself usually has some 'special' finance deal on the A's an B's, so obsessing about the list price is unnecessary- cost to change and run is more important anyway.

It may not be the best car in the world, it certainly isn't the best Merc in history but so what? It's a good practical car that suits some people extremely well.

Find an Autocar car review