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★ Introduction ★ This review is based on my experience of owning and using a Mercedes A Class Classic 140 over the past 5 years. This review may not be lacking a little in terms of technical specs, since I do not really know much more about cars than being able to open the bonnet, girly girl that I am! However, I passed my driving test many moons ago and have had plenty of time behind the wheel. Therefore, this review may be of interest to those considering purchasing a second hand A Class or one of the slightly different new ones which I think start with the A150.
★ My Cars ★ Skip this section if it's of no interest because this is only helpful if you are nosey and would like to see my history in the world of cars! Having learnt to drive in a chocolate coloured Triumph Toledo in the 1980s and having successfully passed my driving test first time (there's a tale here which makes me laugh involving an examiner with a nodding head and a cancelled test). Anyway, I then got use for a few months of my mum's Olive Green Austin Allegro. This car was so old and ugly at the time that it was pure embarrassment to drive. In fact, it was so bad that it actually felt trendy. After a short while it rusted into the ground and had to be scrapped. Being in my first job, I decided to use public transport. I had no real need of a car.
A few years later I inherited a GTE when I married hubby. From olive green slow machine to red hot fast! Not long after this, hubby got a company car so we sold the GTE (sob) and I went back to public transport.
After having two kids, we finally decided a second car would be really useful. I was getting worn out pushing a double buggy to the shops - this was in the days before online shopping, remember! I also struggled to cope on public transport with two young children and a buggy. So we bought a second hand Fiesta. It was nice but it had no Power Assisted Steering, which meant I got enormous biceps whenever I had to park the car. Five years ago, I got the treat of my first ever brand new car.
★ Choosing the A Class ★ Hubby is good when it comes to cars; he could talk about cars all day long. He reads all the magazines and reviews and finds out which cars have good safety features, which have good ratings. He had his eye on buying an A Class overseas online as he heard this could save you at least 10%. So he went to the local Mercedes garage to try one out for size.
Later that day he came back with the news that they had a new one with £3k saving off the new price because it had been in the garage a few months and everyone wanted the next reg. I could have it if I liked it.
★ Classic Style ★ Of all the little cars on the road at the time (and still now in fact), I loved the A Class. Quirky, stylish, small but big. It is like a teeny weeny MPV, taller than most small cars, not too wide, short in length. I love the look of it and I knew this was my ideal car (short of getting a TT) but since this is not at all practical with 4 kids, I've had to put this car out of mind. The Classic has an engine size of 1.4, basically bottom of the range A140.
Pictures of Mercedes A 140
There are other A Classes which have bigger engines including the A160 and A170. The A Class we chose was a petrol engined version.★ Dealership ★ Treat her like a princess might well be the Mercedes motto for female customers. On the day of collection, we arrived at the garage and I was presented with the most amazing bunch of exotic flowers. After payment and signing all the paperwork, I was then given a one to one 'hands on' with a very nice Mercedes man. This involved me sitting in the driving seat and him in the passenger seat. He then proceeded to go through all the controls in the car. He taught me how to position my seat; it goes up and down as well as back and forth. He showed me how to operate the electric mirrors and the heating controls. Most of these controls are pretty obvious when you have owned a car before, but it is still nice to have someone show you rather than having to work them out yourself on the way home! He also told me that Mercedes breakdown cover lasted for 25 or 30 years, I was a little too heady by this stage to recall exactly. He explained most of the user manual within ten minutes, then I drove away, smugly happy with my big bunch of flowers on the seat behind me. Funny that the kids all chose to go home with dad. I'm a good driver.
★ Driving the car ★ I absolutely love driving my A Class. Most of my driving is urban though I do take it for an odd long drive across the Pennines or for a motorway run. It is nippy and punchy around town but is also great to drive along windy roads and grips well. The anti lock brakes (ABS) definitely aid driving when the roads are icy. The ride is very hard which I really like. Driving long distances in this car gives you a numb bum but for journeys of an hour or less it is very comfortable. The ride feels sporty in comparison to my previous cars but then it would wouldn't it, compared to an Allegro or Fiesta?! The fuel consumption around town is around 30mpg. Most of my driving is around town and my annual mileage around 3000-4000 miles. A full tank of unleaded petrol costs around £35 and will do 300-350 miles.
★ Parking the Car ★ The A Class is of similar width to most small cars. The length is short and so parking the A Class is easy. Being higher up in your seat compared to most small cars and having a large front windscreen makes for good all round vision. Beware however of those mini bollards. If you are used to parking a car with a saloon style boot, you will probably find yourself parking with a huge distance behind you when parallel parking. I still do even though the Fiesta had no sticky out boot either. Err on the side of caution, that's what I say.
★ What I love about my Classic ★ The A140 has a good safety rating. It gives a good solid clonk when you close the doors. I like this, having seen too many crumpled up tinny cars in road accidents. The A Class has that Mercedes feel of solid quality. There are also twin air bags for the two front passengers giving that added feel safe factor. Another safety feature I love on the A Class is that once you are driving, the doors all lock automatically. This means that whilst you are stationary at lights or in a jam, nobody can jump into your vehicle or pinch stuff out of your boot. If you want to pick someone up, there is a button on the dashboard to press which opens the locks.
The central locking is another feature I really love on this car. One of the best features is the PAS which makes parking really easy. The car is nice and short in length and because of the height of the driving seat, visibility for parking is really excellent.
Driving the A Class feels fun and sporty and pretty sexy. People never get aggressive towards me when I'm in this car and often let me in when there is a queue, perhaps because it is a nice, small car. In the GTE I was always getting people wanting to race me at the traffic lights. I ignored them of course.
★ Other things I like about the Classic ★ The boot space is big and deep for such a small car. The rear seats fold down completely to make the boot huge if required. One of the rear seats can be folded down by itself if you have a long object to transport. This is also very useful if your boot lock is frozen but your car doors are not. You can access the boot from the inside of the car, pulling down a lever on the rear seat behind the front passenger seat. The kids love to climb through into the boot and retrieve my de-icer and scraper.
The rear seat has three proper diagonal seat belts. The car is probably not terribly comfortable for three adults in the back but for three children or two adults, the room in the rear is very comfortable with plenty of leg room and head room.
The front two seats can be adjusted for height. Our oldest child sits in the front seat so we can raise this seat so that he doesn't feel too low down. If you are very tall you may find your head touches the roof of the car even with the seat at its lowest position. This is not a problem for me, I am average height. If you are a very tall male and going thin on top you may find your hair sticking to the car roof. However, the seat probably does seat most tall people comfortably, it's just that whenever I give an adult a ride, the seat is at high position so they do look rather silly.
There is plenty of storage space including deep pockets in all of the doors, very handy for storing tissues, toys, maps and general rubbish collected by the kids. There are two cup holders between the two front seats which are deep enough to hold a take away lidded hot drink without it tipping over on the move. The glove box is also large enough to hold an A-Z, the huge filofax style Mercedes handbook and a few other bits and bobs.
In the boot, there are two side storage cubby holes. In one of these came a very well equipped first aid kit. Fortunately, I have had no need to use this but perfect when required to produce a bandage for an Egyptian mummy project one school morning.
The spare wheel is kept under the boot carpet and is very easy to access.
★ Servicing and Other Niggles ★ This is rather a passion killer. When you buy a new Mercedes you really are tied into having it serviced at a Mercedes garage to ensure the validation of the guarantee. The first service was an A service and cost a reasonable £130 or so. The second was a B service and this is a killer. £440. This only included the service and a few consumable extras such as pollen filters and new wiper blades. The second of our B services cost even more. This is my one and only major gripe with owning an A Class.
I have heard Jeremy Clarkson say that bits are always falling off Mercedes and they don't make them like they used to (did I just admit to watching Top Gear?). Well he does have a point. A few bits have fallen off, including the tow bar cover. On collecting my ordered part, I did say to the man at the garage..'my hubby says bits should never fall off a Merc' He didn't charge me for the part. The parcel shelf hooks also never stay attached which is a little frustrating. I suppose most cars have their annoying little traits when they are a few years old. These little things are not really anything of consequence and would certainly not put me off getting another A Class.
Similarly when I called at the garage to collect a new bulb for my rear light, a nice man came and fitted it without charge. Just as well, my hubby was away at the time and I had no idea how to get at the light fitting to do it myself.
★Features on my A140 Classic ★ My car came with a Sony stereo radio and tape. The radio is great but a CD player would be preferable.
★ Power Assisted Steering ★ Antilock Brakes ★ Twin Airbags ★ 4 electric windows ★ Immobiliser ★ Alarm ★ Electric mirrors ★ Sony radio/tape player ★ Height adjustable seats x2 ★ Front and rear headrests ★ Metallic paint
The A140 Classic that I have does not have air conditioning or climate control or a sunroof. Some models may have these added. As I do not do many long journeys, a push of the button to open the window is absolutely fine.
★ Summary ★ The A Class feels a sturdy and classy car to drive. It is fun and quirky but roomy inside and easy to park. Being slightly higher than most small cars, you climb into the car and this gives good visibility all round when driving. The drive itself is a good firm ride which makes it feel sporty. It has loads of boot space and is comfortable for passengers. For long drives, this car may be less comfortable. The seats have great lumbar support but they are firm and give you a numb bum when driving for more than an hour at a time. It is highly recommended for an around town car.
One final point regarding the engine, which is located underneath the short bonnet and in other fairly inaccessible parts (perhaps this goes some way to explain the high servicing costs...?) I was asked by a friend if he could jump start his wife's car using mine. I struggled to open the bonnet but managed it. Phew! The battery was nowhere to be seen. I later read (in the manual) that the battery is under one of the seats. No good therefore for a quick jump start, but a great car for a hard ride nonetheless. And with a full (expensive) Mercedes service history, in good as new condition with only 17k on the clock, the second hand value must be good. However when Im still driving it 10 years hence, I'll look back and be thankful that I once had a new car which came with a big bunch of flowers
We have just bought a top spec Mercedes B class 2011... Can't WAIT!. Couldn't buy a classic A class or any A class, it doesn't even have Alloys, the A class is too small anyway.
stuggie_bear 26.07.2008 21:04
great review.i'm now looking at getting a second hand one,could never afford a new car.and you seem to have covered all the bases.
brereton66 24.10.2007 00:06
That got a diamond???? Only kidding, you could give Richada some lessons. I take it the kids were out of buggies when you got this because when we looked at one of these we couldn't even fit a single in the boot. Mind we also got flowers with our Toyota, and a GB atlas.