We’ve all seen the mid-life crisis do its work among friends, family and business acquaintances who suddenly drop the frumpy clothes, the crumpled suits and mumsy dresses.
Instead, they turn up all glamorous and looking a million dollars in the latest fashions, sporting the flashiest watches and fake-tanned to within a shade of mahogany as they suddenly realise life’s too short to live it in the background.
And that’s exactly what Mercedes-Benz has decided to do with the old frump of a car the A-Class. Like a new divorcee the car has shrugged off its super sensible past and slipped on a hot pair of Louboutin heels and wafted onto the forecourt through a cloud of Jo Malone perfume.
Just the first glance at the sexy new lines confirms this is one mid-lifer that will have a happy ending. The image of those low sleek lines dispels all memories of the old school-run bus and it aches to be appreciated in its own right.
I got my hands on it for the first time at the Mercedes World in Brooklands and the A220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY in AMG Sport guise easily holds its own among its more exotic SL sisters in the corporate car park. A lot of that is down to shared styling cues that brings the whole Mercedes-Benz family closer together as a brand which is instantly recognisable when the big grill mounted three-pointed star appears in your rear view mirror.
Inside the glamour gets even more pronounced with darkly sophisticated carbon fibre dashboard finish, chunky leather trimmed steering wheel and beautiful to touch quality alloy cruciform nozzled air vents.
Slip into the figure hugging seat and you immediately know this car has sporting intentions. These begin with a surprisingly free-revving 2.1-litre turbo diesel, which delivers a healthy 168 brake horsepower and a hefty 258 ft-lbs of pulling torque able to the compact cruiser to 60mph in just 8.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 137mph.
The sporting drive is enhanced by a super-quick 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox, which keeps the motor buzzing into its power band between 3,000-4,000rpm. And there’s little to worry about when the corner looms large because the little car is a joy to bury into a bend at speed and feels beautifully balanced and responsive to throttle mid-corner.
Much of this sports feel comes from a lowered and selectable three drive-mode stiffened suspension and wide 18-inch wheels. Some may feel the ride a tad too harsh and, from a ride quality point of view, I would opt for a smaller 17-inch wheel to help cope with the worst of our pot-holed UK roads.
Yet, this mid-lifer has not regressed so as to be insensible to costs and the super efficient motor delivers a claimed 64.2mpg on the combined cycle and a tax friendly C02 rating of just 115 g/km.
The AMG Sport is also good value compared to competitors at £27,195 especially considering a standard equipment list including air-con, 18-inch alloys, sports seats, multi-function steering wheel, trip computer, front foot-well lighting, carbon fibre trim, selectable suspension modes, cruise control and ECO stop/start function.
Naturally, in common with most German manufacturers, it is easy to break into another price band with optional extras. My test car clocked up and additional £9,070 for extras including full leather upholstery (£1,080), COMAND online entertainment, navigation and telephone package (£2,300) and the blind-spot and lane assist system (£770).
Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this driver-focused car that has a lot to teach all those entering a mid-life crisis.
A-Class 222CDI AMG Sport
Engine: 2.1-litre turbo diesel
Top Speed: 137mph
Economy: 64.2mpg (claimed)
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