This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here possibly applies to the models you can get at home.
* To read another of our road tests, pick one from the menu on the left
* Please note that prices quoted are those in effect at the time the vehicle was tested
This is a launch report. In other words, it's simply a new model announcement. The driving experience was limited to a short drive over a prepared course chosen to make the product look good. We can therefore not tell you what it will be like to live with over an extended period, how economical it is, or how reliable it will be. A very brief first impression is all we can give you until such time as we get an actual test unit for trial. Thank you for your patience.
Pics supplied by manufacturer
The city-oriented “A” class lifestyle vehicle has sold over 1.1 million units worldwide since its introduction in 1997, including 2 200 in South Africa following its debut here in 2000.
The “B”, aimed at families and professionals, has found some 350 000 homes since its launch in 2005, including 3 000 to SA buyers since 2006.
While no dimensions have changed materially (we’re talking mere millimeters in terms of external length), the facelifts have been aimed at making the cars appear “longer, lower and wider,” while internal changes have been made to render them even more luxurious and versatile.
Under the skin, A-Class engines remain unchanged. The petrol line-up comprises the A 170 (85 kW) and the A 200 (100 kW). If you're looking for an agile diesel, there is the newly developed A 180 CDI (80 kW) with its impressive power curve.
All three engines are frugal when it comes to fuel consumption. The A 170 achieves a combined consumption rate of 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres, while the A 180 CDI is also impressively economical with a combined rate of 5.2 litres.
The secret is reduced friction losses in the engine, a high compression ratio and improved in-cylinder flow.
B –series cars offer a choice of the 170 unit found in the basic A-class, a turbocharged version of the 200 petrol motor, putting out 142 kW and a new 200 diesel offering up to 7% better fuel economy than previously.
5-speed manual transmission is closely matched to the petrol engines, while on the diesels, 6-speed manual ‘boxes provide agile driving. Six speed Autotronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available as a R13 000 option.
In line with Mercedes Benz philosophy, safety features were upgraded even further.
Emergency braking from speeds higher than 50 km/h causes the brake lights to flash, alerting following drivers to the danger situation more effectively than the usual passive glow.
This saves an average 0.2 seconds in reaction time, which translates to as much as 5.5 metres in stopping distance from 100 km/h.
In the event of an accident of airbag-deploying severity, interior lights come on automatically, making it easier for occupants to get their bearings and to facilitate search and rescue work by emergency personnel.
To make restarting on hills easier, an upgrade to the ESP program prevents the car rolling back in the second or two between removing one’s foot from the service brake and applying accelerator pressure.
Convenience features available optionally include
• Active Park Assist at R4 000, which takes all the peering and wheel-twirling out of parking in tight spaces,
• a R4 700 grey-tinted glass sunroof that lights up your life without the unpleasantness of UV radiation,
• a COMAND APS navigation system at R21 000 that not only finds your way, but adds value to your in-car entertainment,
• and a Universal Consumer Electronic Interface (UCI) that allows users to connect iPods, USB cards or hard discs to any of the standard or optional sound systems.
Base prices for “A” series cars start at R212 000 and go up to R252 000, while those for “B” series vehicles range from R253 000 to R308 000. MobiloDrive 120 maintenance contracts are included with all Mercedes Benz passenger cars.
Mercedes Benz A Class
Mercedes Benz B class
Mercedes Benz B class load area
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to in order to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and visit to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously. Contact me here
Back to Home page