Driven - September 2018

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Setting New Standards

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Some car models evolve like a fine wine; slowly over time, each incarnation just a little better than the last. Not at Mercedes-Benz though, if other technologies progressed as fast as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, we’d be living around in a rather futuristic world. Twenty-one years ago, just after the first A-Class was launched, it made motoring headlines for failing the Moose Test, but that was actually a blessing in disguise rather than a setback. This problem forced the men in white coats to re-engineer the suspension as well as to add electronic driver aids never before seen in a compact car, forcing other manufacturers to follow suit. This was the start of a brilliant track record, amassing sales of three million A-Class cars (6 million compact cars in total) to date, each new model featuring improvements and upgrades that you’d only expect to find in top tier models.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is now in its fourth generation, and it’s no facelift, this technological marvel is an all-new affair from the ground up. The compact Benz is longer, higher and wider resulting in a sportier looking hatchback, especially when fitted with the optional 19-inch wheels. The front-end subscribes to the latest Mercedes-Benz design architecture and this new design also sees the car being the most aerodynamic in the segment. Much of this is attributed to the front and rear wheel spoilers that result in low airflow losses, in addition, wheel arches are insulated from the engine compartment and the radiator surrounds are sealed. The design of the A-pillars and the new wing mirrors also has an effect on drag, but most noticeably on wind noise. This all-new A-Class is easily the quietest hatch I’ve driven to date.

Cabin space is improved thanks to the new dimensions; so taller drivers have more comfort with better elbow and shoulder room. The boot receives a 29-litre increase in capacity, now totalling 370 litres and the taillights are now sectioned in two, meaning a 20cm wider load aperture giving your favourite set of Callaway clubs a perfect entry. Besides space, the interior of the all-new A-Class is a very premium place indeed. The retail price of these cars (which we’ll get to later) does seem high, but when you see the fit and finish of the materials and the amount of technology crammed in, things become a lot more palatable.

MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience – is an intelligent multimedia system that adapts to your inputs and voice commands which is not only great to keep you company on long roads, it also keeps your eye focused ahead to keep you safe. All manner of things can be done via the voice control, such as turning vehicle systems on and off or finding you a better route through traffic.  To access this function, simply blurt out “Hey Mercedes” at any point and she’ll answer you back – sound familiar?  It’s also easy to use, however when you want your fingers to do the talking, the touch controls for all the systems are easy and intuitive, once you learn what does what of course.

Powering the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class are two new power plants; for the A200 there’s a turbocharged 1332cc 4-cylinder with 120kW and 250Nm on tap. The A250 Sport features 1991cc, also a turbocharged 4-cylinder, and produces 165kW and 350Nm available. Both engines are mated to a sublime, smooth and lightning-quick 7-speed dual clutch transmission (7G-DCT). A variety of drive modes are available, including Comfort, Eco and Sport, the latter being very responsive and firm. We were only able to sample the A200 on launch, and the responsiveness and available power from such a small capacity motor boggles the mind. It’s claimed to reach 100km/h in 8-seconds with a top speed at 225km/h, but it feels faster. Combined fuel consumption is claimed at 5.2l/100km which I’m sure it can manage, just not on launch. In this initial launch drive the A200 was put through its paces and it must be said that there’s not really any way to fault the car. With the technology on board, the new A-Class sets new standards, once again forcing others to follow. The automaker wants to target a younger, more tech-savvy buyer, and offerings don’t get much better than this. A diesel variant and the halo AMG version will come in time.

New Mercedes-Benz A-Class Pricing in South Africa

Pricing for the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sees the A200 comes in at R499 000 and the A250 lists at R593 300.