All- new luxury compact will take Mercedes’ tech fight to its rivals
MERCEDES-BENZ WILL BRING new levels of technology to the family hatchback class when its new A-class goes on sale in the spring. While the company has long dripfed technology from its most advanced models down the range a generation or two behind, the latest version of Mercedes’ compact luxury car is like an S-class in miniature, from its class-leading aerodynamics to semi-autonomous functions and a stunning new interior.
The exterior styling is an evolution of the old A-class’s, albeit less cluttered and punctuated by sharper details. Its drag coefficient of 0.25 is impressive for a hatchback, and the slightly larger structure brings a longer wheelbase and more interior and luggage volume.
The cabin hosts the biggest changes, though, with a wide, flat instrument panel home to a pair of TFT displays and floating ahead of a smooth, wraparound dashboard, with no traditional instrument cowl. The cockpit is brighter than before thanks to thinner padding around the pillars, while various seat options allow customers to tailor the environment to their requirements – as does an optional 64-colour ambient lighting package.
Significant changes abound under the bonnet too, the most interesting being a new 1.4-litre four-pot engine co-developed with Renault. Turbocharged and utilising cylinder deactivation tech and a petrol particulate filter, it makes a sturdy 161bhp with 184lb ft of torque, delivered through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT. A 221bhp 2-litre petrol and a 114bhp 1.5-litre diesel will also be available, and topping the range will be two AMG models – a replacement for the current A45 and a new, Audi S3-rivalling A35.
A tech-heavy spec list includes adaptive brakes that adjust for weight and axle load, attention assist, adaptive cruise control and a new-generation infotainment system, with touch and voice controls and intelligent learning.
All of that makes Jaguar’s decision to build 25 new continuation D-types look a bit old-hat, but no less appealing. The 25 hand-built cars will carry on from the 75 examples produced originally back in the 1950s, and also follow on from the nine continuation XKSS and six lightweight E-types built by Jaguar Classic over the past few years.
Mclaren will make even fewer of its MSO X a 570S-based special built by Mclaren Special Operations for Mclaren Newport Beach in California. Each of the ten cars will wear an F1 Gtr-inspired livery and feature aero components replicating those of the 570S GT4.
Croatian manufacturer Rimac has also revealed its latest supercar the as-yet unnamed follow-up to the Concept One. Teaser shots make the shape difficult to discern, but evo will have taken a proper look by the time of the car’s debut at the Geneva motor show in March. Its overall shape looks a little more conventional than the Concept One’s, but its electric drivetrain is likely to be anything but.
Finally, a new brand will appear from SEAT this year. The Spanish firm is launching Cupra as a standalone marque, and will expand the number of models wearing the badge. A Cupra Ateca SUV will be the first offering, with a Leon and Ibiza to follow. The move comes on the back of strong sales for SEAT and a desire to make better use of the SEAT Sport engineering team.
Above: A-class’s twin TFT displays oust traditional binnacle. Right: 25 new Jaguar D-types planned