easily—quite unlike the typical modern diesel engine that is accompanied by a certain degree of lag. Keep your right foot firmly buried on the pedal and the V40 gathers pace with strong intent. The acceleration is strong enough to give you a good tug back in your seat and this pull lasts for a fair amount of time. Aiding the performance is the six-speed automatic gearbox that makes its changes reasonably quick and doesn’t feel jerky.
As for the Mercedes A-class, it is powered by the same 2.1-litre engine as in the B-class, detuned for a lower power output here. The 107bhp engine lacks the outright punch that is dished out by the Volvo and doesn’t go as fast as its audacious looks may suggest. While the V40’s acceleration gives you a good tug, the A 180 CDI provides a gentle push while gaining momentum. The A-class hits the 100kph mark in 11.29sec against the scant 8.68sec taken by the V40 to do the same. The way the power is delivered in the A-class is quite impressive. Just like the V40, the baby Merc also does away with almost all lag associated with diesel engines. In fact, there’s almost no waiting here—just a few hundred revs are all you need! But, while the flat-out performance is not as strong as its Swedish rival, the fantastic seven-speed gearbox delivers power in a much smoother manner than the V40.
Ride & handling
Over the monsoon battered roads of Mumbai, the Mercedes impressed us a lot more than the Volvo in the way it tackled uneven tarmac. Despite its stiff suspension setup, the A-class handled choppy tarmac well with none of the V40’s tendency to crash through holes. Yes, the suspension definitely feels stiff and does not deliver the kind of plush ride you may associate with a larger three-pointed star, but it didn’t feel too uncomfortable there either. In terms of handling, the sporty Merc feels brilliantly composed through the corners with the tyres sticking to the road surface even when pushed hard.
Volvo enjoys a reputation for making some really comfortable, great riding cars but