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’

What Car? - - Contents - Dar­ren Moss Dar­ren.moss@hay­mar­ket.com Audi A3 Sport­back BMW 1 Se­ries

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

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