The success story of the compact cars from Mercedes-Benz began 21 years ago, with the launch of the first generation A-Class. Since then, nearly six million Mercedes-Benz compact cars have been delivered worldwide, three million of which were A-Class models.
“The expansion and rejuvenation of the compact car range are key factors behind the sustained market success that Mercedes-Benz enjoys. The Mercedes-Benz brand has also become noticeably more youthful since the introduction of the third-generation compact models,” says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The new A-Class offers more utility value, making it more youthful than ever but grown-up like never before. The purist, surface-accentuating design of the new A-Class is the next step in the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of Sensual Purity. Its striking sporty exterior is bigger than its predecessor – 120mm longer, 16mm higher and 6mm wider – but, 20kg lighter. The vehicle is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character line along the side. The larger wheel arches for wheels – from 16 to 19 inches – make it sit more squarely on the road.
With a Cdfigure from 0.25 and a frontal area (A) of 2.19 m2, the new A-Class is the aerodynamic leader in its segment. For the first time in the compact segment, Mercedes-Benz uses a two-section AIRPANEL (optional). This louvre system behind the radiator grille opens its adjustable louvres depending on the cooling requirement with the additional louvre system in the air inlet below the registration plate, further improving system performance.
The front and rear wheel spoilers have been specifically optimised to achieve low airflow losses around the wheels. In addition, the wheel arches are insulated from the engine compartment (depending on engine variant) and the radiator surrounds are sealed. This ensures more precise direction of the cooling air and a more efficient cooling system. Wind noise inside the cabin has also been significantly reduced in the new A-Class compared to its predecessor, as the A-pillars and new exterior mirrors on the beltlines were enhanced in shape and position.
The interior of the new A-Class is completely redefined with its modern, avant-garde look. Mercedes-Benz has taken a completely new approach, revolutionising the compact segment from the inside. The feeling of spaciousness is accentuated by the increased shoulder, elbow and headroom. The new A-Class also offers easier access to the rear and a larger, more family- and recreation-friendly luggage compartment.
The capacity of the luggage compartment behind the rear seats is 370 litres – 29 litres more than in the preceding model. Thanks to two-section rear lights, the loading aperture is 20cm wider than before, and the luggage compartment floor is 11.5cm longer. All-round visibility in the new A-Class has also been improved, with the area obscured by the pillars reduced by 10 percent compared to its predecessor. This enhances both safety and the impression of spaciousness.
MBUX, the new multimedia system, is a revolution of the user experience in the car. It learns and adapts to suit the user through artificial intelligence so the more a user interacts with it, the more the new A-Class becomes just like them. In addition, MBUX offers intelligent voice control with natural language comprehension. By using the phrase “Hey Mercedes”, users can adjust the air-conditioning, send a text message, or find the quickest route out of the Cape Town city centre on a Friday afternoon.
“The new A-Class offers modern luxury at a level previously unthought of in the compact segment. It uses technology to create an emotional connection between the vehicle and driver,” says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa. “In many ways, our devices are extensions of our personalities and we’re now extending this approach to your car. You shouldn’t have to adapt to your car, your car should adapt to you. In fact, your car should be just like you. With the new A-Class, achieving this is as simple as striking up a conversation. The new A-Class grows to understand your personal preferences then predicts your needs, making it the ultimate intelligent companion.”
New and improved Mercedes me connect services are being launched with MBUX. These include navigation functions like emergency braking, On-Street Prediction, Real-Time Information and Off-Street Information, which save time and reduce stress levels when searching for a parking space.
The new A-Class also offers a number of functions that were previously the preserve of the luxury class: real-time parking, for example, and the ability to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do this, it keeps a close eye on the traffic as the improved camera and radar systems allow it to see up to 500m ahead.
It comes with extended Active Brake Assist as standard. Depending on the circumstances, this can effectively help to mitigate the consequences of rear-end collisions with slow-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles. This extended Active Brake Assist even responds to crossing pedestrians and cyclists to help prevent collisions altogether.
The A‑Class is available in two variants – the A 200 and the A 250 Sport, with the diesel model expected in South Africa in early 2019. Both models benefit from new engines. The A 200 is powered by a 1.33 litre unit which generates 120 kW and 250 Nm of torque with a 7G‑DCT dual-clutch transmission (5.2 l/100 km). The 2.0 litre engine of the A 250 Sport generates 165 kW and 350 Nm, and isavailable with the 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission which provides a claimed fuel consumption of 6.2 l/100 km. New features for both engines include CAMTRONIC for the intake camshaft, and particulate filter as standard.
There is a choice of suspension systems for the A-Class, depending on engine variant and driver preference. DYNAMIC SELECT is standard equipment and at the touch of a button, provides an individual driving experience in conjunction with the suspension with active damping control (optional).
Like all its predecessors, the new A-Class has a McPherson front suspension. The more powerful A 250 Sport is equipped with adaptive damping in combination with larger wheels, giving it a sophisticated four-link rear suspension. The rear axle is mounted on a subframe isolated from the bodyshell by rubber bushings so that fewer vibrations are transferred from the suspension to the body. The proportion of aluminium in the suspension components is one of the highest of any suspension system in this vehicle segment.
As standard the new A-Class is equipped with a comfort suspension with steel springs and DYNAMIC SELECT. The comfort suspension has been lowered by 15mm and specially configured springs and dampers for more sporty characteristics. The suspension with active damping control enables the driver to choose the preferred damping characteristics.