The new A-Class – Merc’s biggest seller in the UK, and the smallest Mercedes that isn’t technically a Smart. Only now it’s bigger than ever. 30mm longer, with a 14mm wider front track, more shoulder-, head- and elbow-room and a more voluminous, more easily accessible boot than the really quite ordinary, not especially spacious car it replaces. Good news, we’re sure you’ll agree. But there is better, more interesting news elsewhere…
News, for example, of the all-new MBOX infotainment system, which employs machine learning to “adapt to suit the user” and “create an emotional connection between the vehicle, driver, and passengers”. So for example, if you regularly switch to Radio 4 at 6 pm for the news, the car will remember this and remind you.
Much work has been done to make the A-Class more quiet and comfortable than the old one, which was not known for being either of those things. Mercedes claims it’s the most aerodynamic car in its class – which is as good for fuel economy as it is wind noise. The suspension and bodyshell play a role too. And all the effort will have been worth it – as the new A’s platform will spawn the next GLA, CLA, and so-on.
The first customer cars arrive in the UK in June. Have one over a Golf or A3? More news, especially on the eagerly-awaited AMGs (one of which we’re reliably informed will be with us before the end of the year, and the other sometime in 2019), as we have it…
Like the S- and E-Class the A’s swish new interior is dominated by two widescreen LCDs. At their biggest, they’re 10.25 inches across (no A-Class gets conventional dials. Two 7 inch screens are standard), one for the instruments, the other for nav (optional AR tech overlays POI and direction info on feeds from the car’s cameras), media and so on.
The latter is a touchscreen, but swiping your fingers across touchpads on the steering wheel and center console or shouting “Hey Mercedes” in its general direction will illicit a response. Merc is especially proud of its “intelligent” voice control, which it claims can understand and act upon pretty much anything you might be tempted to ask it, however you decide to ask. Within reason, naturally.
It’s proud too of its new four-cylinder engines. 1.4 and 2.0-litre petrol in the A200 and A250, and a 1.5-litre diesel in the A180d. The A200 and A180 will be available to order when pricing and specs are announced on March 5, the A250 will follow in the summer and yet more engines will be added to the line-up before year’s end.