It’s been a long day at the shoot. Almost 7:30 in the evening and its still quite bright thanks to the long days in peak summer. As I sip my ‘cutting chai’ at a ramshackled tea stall on the highway, I see my parked ride gleaming through the last rays of the setting sun. It looks simply gorgeous and even though it’s a little compact my normal Mercedes-Benz standards, there are hordes of people ogling at it. The subject of the discussion here is the all new A-Class, which after a lot of anticipation has finally arrived on Indian shores and is pretty much one of the most significant launches for Mercedes-Benz India. Why you ask? For more than one reason actually. Besides the fact that the car must muster good sales numbers, this is actually uncharted territory for the world’s oldest car maker.
I say this because not only does this baby Benz need to appeal to a hatchback buyer, it must also appeal to a potential Benz buyer who until now has only seen the big and dare I say ‘mature’ side of Mercedes-Benz. The A-Class represents the younger face of the Stuttgart based manufacturer and hence is targeted towards a much younger and not to mention well-heeled customer base. Now most of our readers must have already seen how sensational the car looks from our previous international first drive reports, but then the A-Class will need to be more than just a pretty car if it intends to make a mark here. So does it make the cut? Let’s find out...
Before we get to the new car, let’s talk a little about its predecessor. The outgoing A-Class was a game-changer when it was launched 15 years ago. It was vertical where cars until then had been horizontal. It was snub-nosed and had an ingenious "sandwich" floor which meant all the stuff was under you, not in front of you. You sat up and looked out. But the haters and naysayers made life hard for the little pioneer and Mercedes has gone back to a more traditional format. It's as if they have stood on the old A-Class and flattened it out. But if their aim was to create a premium, family-friendly small hatch, it's worked. And people love the familiar.
Now the silhouette might be conventional, but design is definitely not. The first thing that hits you is the size. The pictures simply do not do justice to the actual dimensions of the car. Sitting low with that long nose and a very dramatic rear, Mercedes has given a fresh interpretation to the classic two-box design. The front looks absolutely menacing thanks to the wide bumpers and the pronounced lip spoiler. The massive grille too is unlike any seen on a Merc before with chrome stars filling it up and a big Avant-Garde style three pointed star in the centre. The swoopy headlights along with the strip of LED lights look like angry eyebrows and add a lot of visual drama to the front.
And it gets even better from the side. The roof looks like its been slammed down resulting in a very minimal glasshouse. Evoking further ‘oohs and aahs’ are the feature lines on the side which provide the much needed muscle along with those delicious 17 inch 10-spoke alloys. Rounding off the rear are the one piece horizontally structured LED tail lights extending far down the sides. The wide bumper along with the black grained diffuser insert project out dual stainless steel exhaust pipes completing what is one of the best rears seen on a hatchback. As far as styling is concerned Mercedes-Benz have simply outdone themselves and this baby Benz is sure to evoke the same amount of glances that your bigger E or C-Class does.
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