With the UK the biggest market for Mercedes-Benz’s A-Class, this new hi-tech, hi-spec fourth-generation hatchback’s more grown-up feel is set to make it an even bigger hit
Mercedes A-Class goes under the microscope
We love the baby Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the UK – its largest market globally with 43,717 registered here last year, nearly a quarter of total sales. This fourthgeneration model gets a more grown-up feel and equipment including automatic transmission across the board for launch models – manuals will follow – plus sat nav, more safety kit and debuts the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) touchscreen interface and excellent ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice recognition. Hence, therefore, the price hike.
LOOKS AND IMAGE
It’s an evolutionary look outside, but the interior is more upmarket with a hi-tech fascia, work-ofart air vents and twin seven and 10.25in instrument and infotainment displays operated via responsive touchpads on the steering wheel. This is the future of fascias.
UNDER THE BONNET
Efficient new engines are 116hp 1.5-litre turbo diesel A 180d, developed with Renault and Nissan, 224hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol A 250, but the star is the 163hp, 1.3-litre turbo petrol A 200. The little cracker’s 250Nm of torque is almost as strong as the diesel, but peaks lower at 1,620rpm. It spins freely at high revs for perky performance, while the seven-speed automatic box responds readily and returned 47mpg.
HOW IT DRIVES
Designed to be better to drive and more comfortable, the petrol A 200 feels crisper turning into corners with better steering feel than the heavier diesel. Petrol AMG Line models, with multilink rear suspension rather than torsion beam, feel even livelier.
With either set-up the new A-Class is more of a driver’s car without sacrificing comfort, but AMG Line’s bigger 18in wheels create more tyre noise.
SPACE AND COMFORT
The new A-Class is wider and longer and you feel the benefit inside with more shoulder, elbow and headroom, and rear legroom is adequate for tall passengers.
Boot space has grown to 370 litres, with a wider opening, and 40/20/40 split rear seat backs fold flat.
The A-Class debuts MBUX with intelligent voice control – wake up your ‘virtual valet’ with the keywords ‘Hey Mercedes’ and simply say where you want to go, who you want to phone, music choice, weather forecasts, writing and hearing messages and convenience functions such as climate control and lighting. It’s enough just to say ‘Hey Mercedes I am cold’ to change the temperature. Active lane keeping assist is standard to steer the car back if drifting off course.
The latest A-Class is even more desirable – more grown up with innovative big-car technology that will appeal to drivers downsizing. The higher price is one many will pay, especially on monthly finance packages.
SPEC AND TECH Mercedes-Benz A 200
PRICE: A 200 Sport £27,500, AMG Line £28,700
ENGINE: 1,332cc, 163hp, fourcylinder turbo petrol with sevenspeed automatic gearbox PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 8.0 seconds; top speed 139mph
MPG: 51.4 to 53.3 combined CO2 emissions: 123g/km