Entry-level luxury is a tricky business. You have to deliver not just a luxury badge, but the trappings that are associated with it, plus a robustly engineered package with powertrains to match, the latest tech that modern customers expect, and all the while making sure the price doesn’t creep up too high. It’s no wonder that for most luxury car brands, it’s the segments above that end up generating the larger volumes, as buyers often bypass the entry level and stretch for the bigger, better car. With the new A-class Limousine, Mercedes is targeting not only new aspirants to the brand, but also existing customers who’d like a second, smaller vehicle in their fleet. And while the first generation of the brand’s MFA (Modular Front Architecture) models – A-class and B-class hatchbacks, CLA and GLA – were a reasonable success, Mercedes feels it has perfected the formula with the second generation. So, have they done it?
Mercedes A class Limousine: exterior design
There’s often a conscious decision to make an entry-level luxury car look different from the rest of the range; perhaps a factor of cost, or more likely to appeal to younger customers that might be entering the fold. It’s important to note, at this juncture, that the CLA, the A-Limousine’s predecessor in India, did go down this route to an extent. It was a four-door coupe with frameless windows, a swooping roofline and very aggressive lines, compared to the softer, simpler look of bigger Mercs. While there is a new CLA in Merc’s global range, they’ve chosen the A Limo for India this time around for its added rear-seat space, which was a shortcoming of the old CLA.
And though it is still relatively compact and technically entry-level, you’ll agree this new A-class looks far more grown up and in line with the rest of the family. In fact, from the front, it’s a dead ringer for the sexy CLS, with its triangular headlamps, sharp LED DRLs and upturned grille. It may not have the curved roof of the CLA, but its profile is still very attractive, with a single, confident shoulder line, and there are also a smart-looking set of aero-efficient 17-inch alloy wheels that no doubt contribute to its class-leading fuel economy. Incidentally, the A’s arrow-like shape sets a world record for the lowest drag coefficient of any production car, at 0.22cd. The rear is less dramatic, with a simpler iteration of the CLS’ angular LED tail-lamps and strangely sited reflector strips in the bumper, but it all ties together well as a cohesive design.
Mercedes A class Limousine: interior and features
Inside the cabin is where the new A-class really brings the wow factor. The old-generation cars never felt quite up to the high standard of the Three-pointed Star, be that in design, quality or level of equipment for India, but this changes all that. There’s no skimping here, with high-quality plastics, brightwork in all the right places and soft-touch materials everywhere. They’ve chosen a good spec for India, too, with cream-coloured upholstery (it does dirty easily though), a black dash top and open-pore wood, imparting a properly luxurious feel. The rotary AC vents, an evolution of the ones in the old CLA, are particularly impressive and even feature ambient lighting.
Then there’s the design of the dashboard, which is really fresh. The lower-half is arranged like a shelf onto which a slim panel of two adjoined 10.25-inch high-def screens sits. Essentially a smaller version of the MBUX infotainment unit you’ll find in a GLE or GLS, it certainly isn’t small on features, with almost everything from the bigger cars present here, including 64-colour ambient lighting, an AI-based digital assistant and connected-car tech with Alexa integration. You even get all the customisable digital instrument cluster layouts. Other feel-good features are wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control, a large (though not panoramic) sunroof, and powered seats with memory for the driver and front passenger.
Speaking of the front seats, they’re a touch smaller than what you’d find in, say, a C-class and so don’t offer quite as cossetting an experience, but they’re still plenty comfortable. This is important because the A Limousine is more likely than any other Mercedes sedan to be owner-driven.