It was 2012 when the firstnew generation Mercedes Benz A-Class arrived in SA and it was a remarkable change in styling.
Gone was the rather upright boxy look, replaced by a far more elegant sedan appearance.
The aim, apparently, was to capture a new market area for the German manufacturer and it has achieved that goal exceedingly well, with many younger buyers attracted by the sporty looks and the premium feel.
According to Florian Seidler, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa & Executive Director Mercedes-Benz Cars, global sales of the A-Class have proved the popularity, with 226 000 sold in 2012 increasing to an impressive 585 000 in 2015.
Last week Cape Town played host to the launch of the latest generation not a new model but rather a mid-life facelift.
Basically, all the metal work is unchanged and the new A-Class styling strongly reflects its predecessor. But restyled headlights and full LED lights at the rear, wider bumpers, the diamond mesh grille and dual tailpipe trim integrated into the rear bumper have given the car a fresher, sportier appearance.
The interior features a restyled instrument cluster with new dial graphics, anodised switches and, along with the free-standing frameless display of the infotainment system, adds to the already premium look and feel of the cabin.
Another new feature is the fully adjustable front seat cushion permitting up to 60mm of movement. All models, with the exception of the A45, are available with a Motorsport pack to celebrate the company’s double F1 World Championships.
Petronas green trim is used around the skirts and alloy rims and on spoilers and wings on the exterior, with the same colour is used in the interior accenting trim and seats.
Under the bonnet there have been upgrades in both power and efficiency. The local range includes three turbocharged petrol engines and two turbocharged diesels, all use a four in line configuration.
Both diesels are 2143cc capacity engines, the A 200d producing 100kW and 300Nm of torque and the 220d delivering 130kW the world. Power is up by 15kW to a mind blowing 280 kW as is the torque which is up by 25Nm to 475Nm.
These are impressive figures that require the Mercedes 4MATIC all wheel drive system to transfer all that energy to the tarmac. Acceleration from a standstill to 100km/h is down by 0.4 of a second to a head-snapping 4.2 seconds.
The A 200 and A 200d are fitted with either a six speed manual transmission or the 7G-DCG seven speed dual clutch transmission, all other models are fitted with the latter as standard.