THERE’S a new A-Class from Mercedes-Benz and it’s simply brimming with technology.
Taking many cues from models further up the Mercedes range, the newcomer also marks the world debut of the German car makers’ new digital cockpit. Just say “Hey Mercedes” and it all comes to life on two display screens running across the dashboard behind a single piece of glass.
It’s all part of what Mercedes call MBUX – the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – and it is designed to set the new A-Class apart. That it certainly does and, although the new model is bigger than before, its style is more evolution than revolution.
Priced from £25,800 for the current entry-level A 180 d, the initial three-model line-up tops out at £30,240 for A 250 models powered by 2.0-litre petrol engines.
The A 180 d and mid-grade A 200 petrol models – priced from £27,500 – use new 1.5 and 1.3-litre engines jointly developed with Renault and, at the moment, all are fitted with seven-speed automatic transmissions. Six-speed manuals will be coming on stream soon.
All models have sat nav, with basic SE grade versions coming with seven-inch display screens. Larger 10.25in screens come with either Executive or Premium trim packs, which can add as much as £3595 to the price.
As well as using voice control, the screens can be operated by touch, from a touchpad mounted on the centre console or from the steering wheel. It’s all very contemporary and moves the A-Class up a league in terms of state-of-the-art systems.
Nevertheless, there’s a bank of conventional controls for the heated seats and air conditioning/ventilation controls below the air vents in the middle of the dash.
Not only is the new A-Class bigger inside, it also comes with a larger boot offering a backpack more of luggage space at 370 litres. Maximum capacity is now 1210 litres and the boot opening has been increased by some four inches to help loading.
Where the new A-Class scores is with its refined ride and all-round performance. It may be the baby of the Merc fleet but the A-Class has come of age in its fourth generation and is as impressive as any other model in the luxury brand’s range.
We have just tried the A 180 d and A 200 in high-grade AMG Line trim, with the diesel costing £28,540 and the petrol just £160 more. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel develops 116hp and can manage 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, with a top speed of 125mph. It’s rated at 68.9mpg with emissions of 111g/km.
The A 200’s 1.3 engine is boosted to 163hp and is quicker through the gears at eight seconds for 0-62mph. Although not as economical – there are four drive modes to go at – it still officially averages 51.4mpg, with emissions of 123g/km.
Both were slick through the gears and nicely quiet inside as they went through their paces. Good noise insulation is another plus point.
Smart features included a sat nav system that can overlay live images from the car’s camera system, and that’s particularly impressive on the larger display screens. With good quality trim throughout and a huge variety of ambient light displays on higher grade cars, the interior is upmarket.
The A-Class really found its game in the UK with the last-generation model and Britain was the car’s largest market in the last year, accounting for almost a quarter of its 170,000 sales.
Most of that customer base has come from drivers of other makes of car, which makes the A-Class hugely important to Mercedes for conquest sales. The new model, with its added hi-tech appeal, should have no trouble in keeping that reputation alive.