Bigger, sportier, more tech-laden hatch
New version of ve-door family hatchback offers more space, luxury and tech than ever On sale June Price from £24,000 (est) ‘The larger dimensions give more space inside and enhance the aggressive look’
FOR SOME TIME now, the Mercedes-benz A-class has stood out among its premium family hatchback rivals in the same way as a jazz musician playing at a barn dance: talented – commendable, even – but somehow misplaced.
You see, next to the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and recently refreshed Volkswagen Golf, the A-class falls behind in too many areas, including ride comfort, handling and price, to be considered a class leader.and that’s exactly what Mercedes is aiming to remedy with this fourth-generation model.
UPGRADES ALL ROUND
The ve-door A-class is bigger in almost every respect, even though it sits on a modi ed version of its predecessor’s underpinnings. Those slightly larger dimensions serve two purposes. Firstly, and most importantly, they give the car more space inside – an area in which the A-class has lagged behind its key rivals in recent years – and secondly, they enhance its aggressive look.
The rear doors of the A-class are also larger, which should make getting in and out more digni ed than it was previously, while there’s more space for your luggage in the boot.the A3 and Golf can still hold more, though.
The biggest changes for the new A-class are inside, where it now has the same dual-screen infotainment set-up as the E-class and S-class. Two 7.0in screens sit adjacently within a single black frame, with one displaying a digital instrument display and the other handling sat-nav and media. One or both of the screens can be upgraded to 10.3in units.
In range-topping form, the A-class can be speci ed with a wi- hotspot, augmentedreality sat-nav (which uses images from the car’s cameras overlaid on maps) and live
traf c updates through Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system. available upgrades include a head-up display, traf c sign recognition and a Burmester stereo. while there’s a touchpad on the centre console to control the system, the infotainment screen is also touch-sensitive – a rst for Mercedes. In addition, this system has an advanced speech recognition system that operates in a similar way to Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant. The driver uses it by saying “Hey Mercedes” followed by an instruction. It’s said to understand conversational language rather than speci cally worded commands, the use of which is a major downfall of current in-car voice control systems.
Other luxury touches include ambient interior lighting with 64 colour options.
Three engines will be offered in the A-class at launch.the A200 has a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, co-developed with Renault and Nissan, that produces 161bhp. the A250’s more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre unit kicks out 221bhp, making it the quickest model, capable of covering the 0-62mph sprint in just 6.2sec. the sole diesel is a 1.5-litre unit in the A180d; it produces 114bhp, returns of cial average fuel economy of 68.9mpg and emits just 108g/km of CO2.
Two more petrol engines – an entry-level option and another mid-range model – will be added later on, as will a more powerful diesel.
Two Mercedes-amg hot hatch versions of the A-class will arrive next year, both with fourwheel drive and a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. First will be the A35, a 302bhp mild hybrid rival to the Volkswagen Golf R, followed by the harder, 414bhp A45. Nicknamed ‘the Predator’ by Mercedes’ engineers, this will do battle with the most powerful hot hatches, including the Audi RS3 and Ford Focus RS.
PRICED TO COMPETE
Most A-classes are tted with a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard, while the A200 gets a six-speed manual.a new ninespeed auto will be introduced later this year.
While four-wheel drive could previously be had only on the A45, Mercedes is now
offering a reworked version of its 4Matic system on a wider selection of models. Two suspension set-ups will also be available, with drivers able to choose from driving modes via the Dynamic Select menu.adaptive dampers are an option.
Buyers will have a choice of three trims: SE, Sport and AMG Line.the latter currently accounts for 50% of A-class sales in the UK. Standard safety kit includes automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, and this can be upgraded to feature the same semi-autonomous driving set-up as in the latest S-class.this means the A-class can accelerate, brake and steer itself in certain situations – something no rival can do.
Prices will start at around £24,000 for the entry-level A180d, making the A-class signi cantly more expensive than both the A3 Sportback and 1 Series, which are priced from £21,805 and £22,370 respectively.
However, once the lowerspec A-class models go on sale, that base price should fall to around £22,000.All three launch models are more evenly matched with rivals when it comes to PCP nance deals and Mercedes dealers could offer signi cant incentives to get you into an A-class.
‘The A-class will be able to accelerate, brake and steer itself – something no rival can do’
Rotary dial is replaced by touchpad with shortcut buttons
Metal ‘turbine’ air vents are taken from the S-class
RIVALS A former Car of the Year and still our favourite premium hatchback; this is the one to beat. Offers pleasing performance, low running costs and class-leading infotainment.
1 Steering wheel features touchsensitive pads, as in the E-class 1 2 Two 7.0in screens come as standard. These can be upgraded to 10.3in 2 3 Screens can be set to one of three ‘themes’: Classic, Sport or Discreet 3 4 Luxury touches include ambient lighting in one of 64 different colours 4
New ‘predator face’ front end has an Amg-inspired grille and sharper headlights
Standard LED lights can be upgraded to multibeam units
Mercedes says car “fully embraces its vision of luxury” Larger wheel arches now allow the option of 19in alloys New A-class is 120mm longer and 16mm wider than its predecessor