2019 Mercedes-benz A-class
Traditionally, Mercedesbenz’s attempts at building entry-luxury cars have been middling at best. The CLA, its most recent indiscretion, came with a frustrating dual-clutch transmission and a plasticky interior. But Mercedes’ suboptimal entry-luxe reputation might soon change with its A-class sedan.
Intended to be Mercedes’ newest bargain model, the A-class sedan is a revelation in the democratization of luxury. The styling borrows heavily from the elite Cls—few straight lines or sharp corners, a short rear overhang, and slim headlights. To a lot of buyers, though, such design cues will be less important than the three-pointed star on the grille.
Inside, it does a surprisingly good impression of a much more expensive car. From the dual-screen display to the multifunction steering wheel and the turbine-inspired air vents, it legitimately looks the part. The materials aren’t as nice as you’d find in an S-class, but for around $30,000, that’s expected. The good news is, unlike some materials in the CLA, the A-class doesn’t feel built to price. Everything you touch feels high quality, and the interior design looks great.
Mercedes also packed an impressive number of features into its least expensive model—offering everything from adaptive cruise control with steering assist to a head-up display and support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The A-class’ party piece, however, is Mercedes’ new cloud-based MBUX system, which promises voice controls that are actually usable. The navigation system also has an unexpected trick where it uses augmented reality to show you where to turn. It only works on surface streets, but it’s still cool, almost like Pokémon Go, only with directions on an infotainment display instead of monsters on your phone.
On the road, it’s immediately clear the powertrain is more refined than the CLA’S. Mercedes still used a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, but this unit’s shifts are smooth, even in stop-and-go traffic. And although 188 hp isn’t a lot these days, the 2.0-liter turbo-four has plenty of pep for everyday driving.
We only had the opportunity to drive the all-wheel-drive model, but the A 220 impressed us with sporty handling for a non-performance car. On winding roads, it had plenty of grip and a suspension that kept body roll well under control.
With its affordable price, the A-class will probably sell well. But this time around, buyers will be getting a car that’s worth the money and lives up to the Mercedes brand promise.
SPECS Base Price $30,000-$31,000 (est) Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Engine 2.0L/188-hp/221-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch auto Curb Weight 3,300-3,450 lb (mfr) Wheelbase 107.4 in Lx Wx H 179.2 x 70.7 x 56.9 in 0-60 MPH 6.9-7.1 sec (MT est) EPA City/hwy/comb Fuel Econ Not yet rated On Sale in U.S. Early 2019
IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE The augmented reality nav system is cool but only works on surface streets.