After over 125,000 units since the nameplate arrived in 1997, Mercedes-Benz has given its second-generation A-class a mid-life rework with the emphasis on new technology such as crash responsive cabin lighting, adaptive brake lights and optional self-parking.

There are also new interior materials, improved seats, new infotainment systems with Bluetooth, and more fuel efficient 'Blueefficiency' engines.

From next March, a start-stop system will be available on the A150 and A170 with manual transmission and the three-door A160 CDI will gain an optional Blueefficiency package which improves fuel consumption by around 11% to up to 64.2 mpg on EU test cycles.

The package includes measures to further improve engine efficiency, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, energy management and weight and specifies a diesel particulate filter. CO2 emissions of the 82hp car are 116g/km.

The 95hp A150 Blueefficiency achieves 48.7 mpg, emitting139 grams of CO2 per kilometre. In city traffic, the new ECO start-stop function can result in fuel savings of up to 9%.

Carbon dioxide emissions over the entire life cycle of this model have been reduced by a further 5%, which takes the total reduction to over 12% compared to the preceding model.

The recycling concept of a vehicle is also considered.  95% of the A-Class can be recycled so it already meets the EU regulation coming into force from 2015. Renewable raw materials used for manufacture include flax, olive stones, cotton, coconut fibre, wood veneers and abaca fibres.

The new line has restyled headlamps and radiator grille. Adaptive brake light technology is now standard. Under emergency braking from a speed over 30mph (50km/h), the brake lights flash rapidly to warn following traffic, enabling drivers to respond quicker and prevent a collision.

Crash-responsive emergency lighting for the interior is switched on automatically following an accident of a defined severity, providing the occupants with better orientation and helping the emergency services.

Active park assist is now optional. This system, which operates at up to 25 mph (35km/h), scans the road to identify suitable parking spaces and helps the driver to park.  By engaging reverse the driver 'accepts' the identified space and needs only accelerate and brake as the system takes over the steering and automatically manoeuvres the car into the parking space which can be only 1.3m longer than the car.

Mercedes claims there is currently no other car able to park automatically in such a small space.

The A-class also now has hill start assist, which prevents it from rolling backwards when the driver moves from the brake pedal to the accelerator when moving off on an uphill gradient.

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