The Mercedes Benz A-Class has recently won the coveted and prestigious Car of The Year award by SAGMJ, and we drove it for a week. Compact looking and very sporty and chic, it acquitted itself very well indeed. A highly popular model, over six million Mercedes-Benz compact cars have been delivered worldwide, three million of which were A-Class models. The Mercedes-Benz brand has also become noticeably more youthful since the introduction of the third-generation compact models.
It is a very sporty, chic looking car, and it is a bit of a hot hatch. We drove the A 250, which is not the blisteringly fast A45, but it was great all the same. 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.
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. It is a bit of a head turner, especially with the extra hype generated by the win in Car of the Year.
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.
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 is available 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.
Overview of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class models and prices:
|A 200||A 250 Sport|
|Power output (kW)||120||165|
|Peak torque (Nm)||250||350|
|Fuel consumption, combined (l/100 km)||5.6-5.2||6.5-6.2|
|CO2 emissions, combined (g/km)||128-120||149-141|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||8.0||6.2|
|Top speed (km/h)||225||250|
|Length/width/height (mm)||4.419/ 1.796/ 1.440||
|Recommended retail price (Rand)||499 000||593 300|
In summary, the A Class is a really good car, totally deserving of it’s win of Car of the Year 2019 in SA. It has great looks, a full array of great tech and media is on point.