2019 Mercedes-benz A-class

Motor Trend - - Intake - Collin Woodard

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.

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