Recently I had the pleasure of making acquaintances with the GM of Mercedes-Benz here in Muscat, and managed to get an offer to test drive "Any of their models, with the exception of AMG versions because of insurance purposes". Not really being in a financial position to ever really consider a Mercedes, I had to do a little research on what vehicles they have on offer, but it wasn't long before I learned all about the new A class.
I remember when the A class was first launched, it was laughed at because it fell over when going round corners, bit of a design fail there! Being an owner of a hot hatch (VW GTI, the king of hot hatches!) I immediately took interest in the new A-250 Sport and got to have a play with it over a weekend recently.
Mercedes-Benz only brought the top-of-the range model, the A-250 Sport to Oman, so it's the only version you can see here, but I'm told that by early next year the AMG A-45 model (which is an absolute monster 355 bhp model) will be available here in Oman. The A-250 Sport boasts 211 bhp with a 0-100 KM/h in 6.6 seconds and all the usual things you'd expect in a modern luxury car: leather everywhere, GPS, etc. I found the steering wheel to be comfortable in my hands, and the response was as expected - very sensitive.
I took the car for a spin on the old road to Yiti, from Hamriya, and I have to say, the brakes on this car are incredible, and up there on the old windy road, you could really hear the engine roar. I'm no professional driver, nor car reviewer, but I have to say: I felt more comfortable in this car than I would in my own GTI when going that quickly along that road (which I have driven on a lot). I guess for a true comparison I'll need to get my hands on a new Mk7 GTI and give it a whirl.
The in-car entertainment system was pretty intuitive, it only took a few minutes to get my phone synced up with the system, and I could access all of my contacts via the car system. The screen seems a little bit of an after-thought with it perched up where it is on the dash, and I'd read reviews elsewhere that the screen didn't do well in sunlight and was hard to see - I did not have that problem at all. I'm pleased to report that the GPS does indeed acknowledge the Muscat Express way (Some Toyota models STILL do not have the express way on it's maps)! I noticed that the mileage on the car was surprisingly good too, and in one of the in-dash screens there was a little economy-driving display that had real-time graphs that indicated how economically (or un-economically!) you were driving.
When Sarah from Mercedes-Benz was explaining the cars features to me before I set off for the weekend, she told me about a feature that I loved and now want to know why it's not in every automatic car as standard: When sitting in traffic, eg, a red light, when you've come to a stop, tap the brakes again, and a message comes up on the dash "Hold". You can then take your foot off the brake and the car won't roll forward, then when it's time to go just hit the gas and off you go. Here's where owners of luxury cars tell me it is already standard, but what do I know, I drive a VW :)
Prices for the A-250 start at RO 15,900 and you can contact the team at Mercedes-Benz for a closer look.
There are people out there who are all about power and handling and will say that the new Mk7 GTI model has this licked, and if you plan to go racing at the track with this car then perhaps you should consider a dub, but for the rest of you, which would you rather roll around in? A VW or a Mercedes? Being the owner of a VW, I can tell you, this Mercedes got me more head turns than ever. And, after all, it is a Mercedes-Benz.