We bought a used Merc A class 190 avantgarde from Mercedes Benz tooting and I can tell you now, I wish we never did! The car itself is "okay" which for a Merc is not good enough (especially for the £13k that we paid for a one year old used car). It has the usual characteristics of hard drive, uncomfortable seats and not being particularly good value for money, but on the upside, it has relatively good fuel efficiency and can be parked in the smallest parking spaces, which in central London, is somewhat of a bonus. Our gripe really is with the dealerships. I don't know what happened to Mercedes Benz in London since Merc took over all the dealerships. We though it would improve (and it certainly needed to as their customer service was appalling before). Much to our surprise, the service has just got worse. The salesmen are arrogant (having had three cars from Mercedes in the last 4 years - one CLK, one M class and an A class) you would have thought that they valued our custom. Moreover, when spending the amount of money as we did in our last transaction (when we bought the M and A class) we would expect them to pay a great deal of attention to detail. Alas no, they really demonstrated that they are in the same league as the shoddy estate agents who claim to be professional salesmen. Once they have your money/deposit/order, service goes out of the window. Paperwork is incorrectly filled in, finance deals turn out to be the worst you could get on the high street, finance charges are 'hidden'/not elaborated - and you don't get the paperwork until after you take delivery of the car! And promises to fix chips, scratches and dents are not kept. The A class went back on several occasions as promised work was continuously not done. They even move the CD multi-changer and stretched the lead so much that every time you went over a bump, the split pins came out. Even then that tried to claim that they only moved the CD player and as
they didn't install the stereo in the first place, it actually wasn't their responsibility. Rest assured, we did get them to resolve the problem. So, several months into our happy motoring - And it got happier the further we drove from the show room - We entered into the "Service era". It?s great that these cars have onboard computers programmed to tell you when the car need a service. What I didn't realise was that it was also programmed for you to pay Mercedes once more, a vast amount of money. When the M Class went in for it?s A service, they said it needed new everything (funny that!!) including a new tyre (when we had the CLK they tried the same trick, but this time it was the two rear tyres. We asked them for the tread depths on the tyres and funnily enough, they didn't call us back and they didn't change the tyres!! Anyway, the A service resulted in us needing new brake pads and low and behold, we also needed a new tyre (which on a car of its size, is not cheap!). The rear driver side allegedly had a nail in it (which we haven't found to date). We told them not to change it, and we have driven over two thousand miles (including a trip to the French Alps and back) and the same tyre that needed changing is still on the car! Now it?s the turn of the A class. We rand up to find out how much the B Service on the A Class would be and we were advised that it would cost (drum roll.......) £550. For this you would expect that they changed all the fluids etc. Not on your life, you pay for that on top of the service, but, here are some examples of what you get for your £550 - They test the brakes, check the seat belts, Check (not change, simply check) fluid levels, check tyres, check axle joints and the checks go on. Lets assume that the checks last 2 hours, okay, I'm feeling generous, say three hours (under half a working day for one technician), that equates to £183.33 per hour. Add the VAT on top of t
hat and I think you will find that Mercedes Benz mechanics must be the most qualified individuals on the planet because I know consultants who don't earn that much in private hospitals!! The moral of this story is quite simple. When you spend a lot of money, demand excellence in the quality of service you receive. If you don't get it from the very first time you walk into a Mercedes (or any other) showroom, walk out straight away. If they can't be bothered to show you respect, they don't deserve your money! Second, check the service costs. Like us, you think you are buying a small car, but in the A190 Mercedes, you may be buying a small car, but you are still buoying gargantuan service costs. We will not be buying another Mercedes. Land Rover will be getting our new car budget. The Range Rover, whilst similar in price (purchase and service) to the M class, offer better customer and after sales service (in our experience) and frankly are not as arrogant as the individuals that Mercedes decide somewhat foolishly to employ. DC sort your lives out, you make wonderful cars, but your service ethos leaves a great deal to be desired!
Doesn't this sound crazy? A car the same size in length as a Fiat Punto but still with as much space as anything but the biggest BMW? Somehow, Mercedes have managed to do so. Around 20cm shorter that Nissan's smallest offering and obviously bigger than a Ford Mondeo inside, the Mercedes A-Class is the smallest, and least expensive Mercedes car ever. Starting at around £14,000 cheaper than a Ford Foocus, it is fantastic value considering the quality of car you are buying. All seats can be removed (except the driver), giving a huge, flat loadspace that can easily swallow many mountain bikes. Also, wouldn't you rather be driving a Mercedes than a Ford and still save some money? Some people love the way it looks, some hate it. It's a matter of opinion, but colour choice plays a large part. Purple is one colour I love, and black and silver give the A Class a sort of upmarket look to it. There are three trim levels, Classic (spartan), Elegance (luxurious) and Avantgarde (sporty). Engine choice isn't huge, but varied enough to ensure there's something for everyone. The 1.4 litre provides ample performance for such a small car (0-60mph 12.6s), the 1.6 is a little more energentic (around 10s) and the range topping 1.9, although expencive, is rather nippy (8.8s). There is also a 1.7 diesel, offering around 55mpg. Petrol engined models are around 36mpg, so overall it is an economical motor. There is no substitute for going to a Mercedes garage and having a look at one. Look in the boot, get in the back, whatever. You'll find that although slightly more expensive (the better models) , it's a lot better than a Focus. The only real rival is the Audi A2 which really is a stunner made of solid aluminium (the first ever). However, if you have more money, I would opt for the new Mercedes C-Class top of the range. It is certainly not for the poor ones out there.