RE­VAMPED A-CLASS KEEPS MERCEDES AT TOP OF THE HATCH­BACK CLASS

The A-class was al­ways a se­ri­ous con­tender in the pre­mium hatch seg­ment. An im­pres­sive up­date now means it’s the car to beat.

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY PAUL CON­NOLLY

WHAT’S NEW?

Pretty much ev­ery­thing. The fourth-gen­er­a­tion car has been re­newed from the ground up; there are new en­gines, more space, and an im­pres­sive in­fu­sion of the lat­est Mercedes tech­nol­ogy. In fact, in places, the A- Class is now the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced car in the range.

Notable fea­tures in­clude ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence so the car learns your habits, a Google-like ‘Hey Mercedes’ ver­bal in­ter­face and aug­mented-real­ity nav­i­ga­tion which over­lays data like street names and di­rec­tional ar­rows on to the stream from the car’s for­ward-fac­ing cam­era.

LOOKS AND DE­SIGN

The new look is sportier than be­fore, giv­ing the car a pur­pose­ful feel. There is a low bon­net, flat LED head­lamps with chrome el­e­ments and torch-like day­time driv­ing lamps.

The fa­mous three-pointed Mercedes star rests within a strik­ing ra­di­a­tor grille that includes fea­tures pins in a di­a­mond look and a slick cen­tral sil­ver lou­vre.

The new car has a longer wheel­base than the out­go­ing third gen­er­a­tion model. Con­se­quently there is more space for peo­ple and things. The lug­gage ca­pac­ity

has grown to 370 litres – 29 litres more than be­fore.

Help­fully, the boot aper­ture is 20cm wider than be­fore – use­ful for load­ing lug­gage – and there are new seat fold­ing con­fig­u­ra­tions to as­sist with bulky loads.

You’ll no­tice sig­nif­i­cantly more knee and shoul­der room over pre­vi­ous mod­els, too.

IN­SIDE THE CABIN

The cabin gets a com­plete over­haul, and the style is modern and fresh. This is greatly helped by the re­moval of the cowl above the cock­pit, and the in­stal­la­tion of a wing-shaped main body of the dash, which ex­tends across the driver area to the cen­tre with­out any breaks.

The free-stand­ing widescreen dis­play is avail­able in three ver­sions, de­pend­ing on op­tions/spec:

“The Mercedes A-class A200 AMG Line model is par­tic­u­larly suited to mo­tor­way cruis­ing and ur­ban mo­tor­ing, but this is a car that can tai­lor itself to al­most any sit­u­a­tion seam­lessly.”

with two 7-inch dis­plays, with one 7- and one 10.25-inch dis­play and with two 10.25-inch dis­plays.

The re­sult is that in­for­ma­tion is dis­played seam­lessly, clearly and rapidly, al­low­ing the driver to make quick, in­formed de­ci­sions. All-round vis­i­bil­ity is ex­cel­lent.

Three dif­fer­ent front seats are avail­able: ba­sic, com­fort and a sporty in­te­gral seat avail­able in com­bi­na­tion with the equipment lines. New seat­ing fea­tures have been in­cor­po­rated from higher Merc mod­els. My test model fea­tured the strik­ing am­bi­ent light­ing ef­fect around the dash and doors.

UN­DER THE BON­NET

There are new, more ef­fi­cient en­gines to cel­e­brate the new gen­er­a­tion car.

The diesel of­fer­ing is a 180d ver­sion with 7G-DCT dual clutch trans­mis­sion. The two petrols are 200 and 250 ver­sions also with 7G-DCT trans­mis­sion.

These en­gines are more pump-friendly than be­fore, with a range of 51–68mpg de­pend­ing on which unit you go for.

The car can be specced with a 4MATIC all-wheel drive sys­tem on re­quest. New en­gines are to fol­low soon, Mercedes says.

A choice of sus­pen­sion sys­tems is avail­able, de­pend­ing on en­gine and per­sonal choice.

Han­dling is ex­cel­lent, and the sus­pen­sion firm with­out be­ing hard, as I dis­cov­ered when driv­ing a A200 AMG Line model cour­tesy of Agnew Group’s Mercedes-benz of Belfast.

It’s is par­tic­u­larly suited to mo­tor­way cruis­ing and ur­ban mo­tor­ing, but this is a car that can tai­lor itself to al­most any sit­u­a­tion seam­lessly.

Trim lev­els are SE, Sport and AMG Line. For fans of pure sport­ing per­for­mance and dy­nam­ics, a full AMG ver­sion is pre­dicted in the fu­ture.

NEW TECH­NOL­OGY

The new A- Class is the first

Merc to feature the com­pletely new mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem MBUX (Mercedes-benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence) which the man­u­fac­turer says ush­ers in a new era in Mercedes me con­nec­tiv­ity. MBUX is stan­dard across the range.

A unique feature is its abil­ity to learn in­di­vid­ual pat­terns thanks to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. It “cre­ates an emo­tional con­nec­tion between the ve­hi­cle, driver and pas­sen­gers”, says Mercedes.

There is a high-res­o­lu­tion widescreen cock­pit with touch­screen op­er­a­tion of the me­dia dis­play, the nav­i­ga­tion dis­play with aug­mented real­ity tech­nol­ogy plus in­tel­li­gent voice con­trol with nat­u­ral speech recog­ni­tion, ac­ti­vated by say­ing “Hey Mercedes”.

The touch­screen is part of the com­pre­hen­sive MBUX touch-con­trol con­cept – a triad con­sist­ing of the touch­screen, touch­pad on the cen­tre con­sole and touch con­trol but­tons in the steer­ing wheel.

DRIVER AS­SISTS

An­other feature that sets the A- Class apart in this seg­ment is the sheer level of new tech­nol­ogy, again some of which hasn’t even landed in higher Mercedes mod­els yet and many of which are adopted from the S- Class flag­ship lux­ury saloon.

For the first time, the A- Class is able to drive semi-au­tonomously in certain sit­u­a­tions us­ing improved cam­era and radar sys­tems to see up to 500m ahead.

The A- Class also uses map and nav­i­ga­tion data for as­sis­tance func­tions. For ex­am­ple, the op- tional Ac­tive Dis­tance As­sist DISTRONIC is able to pre­dic­tively bends and ad­just speed.

Also on board are Ac­tive Emer­gency Stop As­sist and in­tu­itively un­der­stand­able Ac­tive Lane Change As­sist. Ex­tended Ac­tive Brake As­sist is stan­dard.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

In short, pretty much any­one. This new, roomier car with a big­ger boot is more fam­ily-friendly than ear­lier mod­els. And with all that tech­nol­ogy and safety kit, this is a car that would suit many dif­fer­ent kinds of driv­ers, from sin­gles to cou­ples, fam­i­lies and busi­ness users. Prices start from £22,850 for the well-equipped A 180 SE petrol.

“For the first time, the A-class is able to drive semi-au­tonomously in certain sit­u­a­tions us­ing improved cam­era and radar sys­tems to see up to 500m ahead.”

* The all-new A- Class is avail­able from Mercedes-benz of Belfast or Por­ta­d­own (https://www.ag­new­cars.com/mercedes-benz/).

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