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15 September 2015 by Joshua Dowling · CarsGuide

New technology and modest price rise for Mercedes-Benz's most affordable model.

The Mercedes-Benz that's the same price as a Holden Commodore has been given a freshen-up and a technology boost.

All models will now come with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, keyless start, blind spot warning and a rear camera as standard fitment.

There is just one catch: prices across the range -- $35,900 to $75,800 --are expected to rise by up to 5 per cent.

The updated A-Class hatchback has just gone on sale in Europe ahead of Australian showroom arrivals in December.

The visual changes are subtle -- a new front bumper and a garnish in the rear bumper that covers the muffler and suspension -- but so too are the refinements.

The A Class finally feels like a luxury hatchback beyond the badge

The twin clutch automatic transmission is a smoother operator than before and most of the engines have had a tune up for slightly more power and/or better fuel economy.

But the biggest change is to the suspension. The original A Class feel like it had rocks under it, now there's no need to brace for bumps.

It means the A Class finally feels like a luxury hatchback beyond the badge.

In Australia, three out of every four A Class buyers have never owned a Mercedes-Benz before. They're also younger than typical Benz buyers, not just young at heart.

As a sign of our changing taste in cars, and the trickle down of prestige brands, the average age of A Class buyers is 34 years old.

Global sales in the past two years alone have more than doubled, from 226,000 in 2012 to 463,000 in 2014.

The success of A Class has even come as a surprise to Mercedes; the original model launched in 1997 was a tall, roomy and practical box-shaped design.

The new third generation model is much smaller and even a tight squeeze in the back seat, largely due to the sloping roof line.

But buyers rate the design of the new model as the number one reason for buying it, proving that less can sometimes be more.

The Australian range will continue to start with the A180 (currently $35,900) and stretch to the autobahn-storming A45 AMG performance model (currently $75,800).

In between is the popular A200 (powered by a high output version of the A180 1.6-litre turbo engine) and the newly named A200d (2.1-litre turbo diesel), while the 2.0-litre turbo A250 Sport now gets all-wheel-drive as standard equipment.

On a preview drive in Germany this week we tested the A200 equipped with optional adaptive suspension and the flagship A45 that will have adaptive suspension as standard.

Despite riding on massive 18-inch and 19-inch wheels and low profile tyres, the A Class had limousine levels of comfort when equipped with the improved suspension package.

The A45 came in for the most change however, with more power and torque, new gear ratios in the seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and a new mechanical limited slip front differential.

The result is a 0.4-second faster dash to 100km/h (now achieved in a Porsche-like 4.2 seconds) when launch mode is activated.

The engine could still do with a little more torque

Without launch mode (we forgot how to activate it) the A45 is still brisk enough to pin your ears back.

The new ratios and extra power help it get to the speed limit quicker.

If there is any other observation, it's that the engine could still do with a little more torque.

Other hot hatches feel like they have a little more urge from lower revs.

But the A45 quickly makes up for it as the engine revs rise and the most powerful 2.0-litre turbo in the world comes into its own.

No wonder there is already an orderly queue for the new one and near-new used examples are fetching a price premium.

Order a new A45 today and expect delivery in March next year or beyond.

Fast facts: Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

Price from: $75,800 (est)Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited km Capped servicing: N/AService interval: 12 months/20,000km Safety: 5 stars  Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol, 280kW/475Nm  Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto; AWDThirst: 6.9L/100km  Spare: Inflation kit0-100km/h: 4.2 secs

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