When I walked into the showroom on March 20, 2006 there was a large blue bow and ribbon tied around my new steed - a shiny silver A170 with grey leather seats and a Nokia car kit as optional extras. What a welcome surprise from the friendly and very efficient sales team.
Nearly two years and 40 000km later the honeymoon is over and some objective observations can be made. After getting over the "Mom's Car" image initially, I can now say that I am truly impressed with the A-Class. This is not the same as the previous generation A-Class - this is a true, pedigreed Merc!
My previous car was the C180 Kompressor - why did I move to the A-Class? I needed the practicality of the easy-loading, high-opening, seat-folding ability of the A.
Why not the A200? I found the additional cost difficult to justify after driving both initially. Why the Elegance package versus the Avantgarde? I prefer wood grain to expensive "tinfoil" covering my dashboard!
The first plus factor of this car has to be its silky-smooth, silent and ultra-responsive auto 'box. It is an absolute pleasure, whether fully loaded or not, on the open road or during city driving, with or without the cruise control engaged, or using it in "tiptronic" or automatic mode. I have nothing but praise for it. This is the same gearbox you will find in the range topping S-Class as well.
Next on the list has got to be the engine. The only thing I miss is the extra grunt for overtaking with the Kompressor. Apart from that this motor is tops - both in terms of performance and fuel consumption.
In city driving it returns 9.5 l/100km, which shrinks to 6,9 l/100km on the open road. (These figures can be verified by detailed logbook records. The best I've recorded is 6,2 l/100km; the worst, 10,5 l/100km.)
The sheer versatility and volume of the load area is amazing. The amount that can be loaded almost negates the need for the trusty Ventertjie to be dragged along when you are off to do some serious shopping!
The driving position and general comfort for both front seat occupants is first class. In the rear there is far more both leg- and head-room room than my C-Class had.
First place here goes to service - or the lack thereof. After purchasing the vehicle, I relocated to the inner provinces of our dear land where the winters are browner and the landscape flatter than the Eastern Cape.
Although I had similar experiences with my previous Merc, this time around it has been pathetic - or apathetic may be the better word. There were a few teething problems that needed attention. These weren't mechanical or serious, but no less than three different dealers have thus far seen fit to refuse my requests and have referred me to the selling dealer to honour the warranty claims.
I have tried Gauteng, North West and Limpopo dealers, all to no avail. My next move will be directly to MBSA should the 50 km service bring no joy.
The second thing has to be wheel alignment. For some unknown reason I have had to have the alignment reset three times in the first 10 km. It has now settled down, fortunately.
Lastly, keeping those light grey leather seats clean! Need I say more?
But would I buy another A170? Without a doubt!