The Benchmark In The Compact Class
By Kyle Lindsay
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 13:50
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is as youthful and dynamic as ever, but grown-up and comfortable like never before. It completely redefines modern luxury in the compact class, and revolutionises interior design.
Technologically the new A-Class not only takes first place thanks to MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience: it also offers a number of functions that were previously the preserve of the luxury class. In certain driving situations, it is able to drive semi-autonomously for the first time, and MULTIBEAM LED headlamps are available on request. All models of the new A-Class are also powered by new, efficient diesel and petrol engines, and although Mercedes-Benz has retained the sporty appearance, the utility value has increased. The new A-Class can be ordered from March onwards, with first UK deliveries in June.
“With the fourth generation of the A-Class, we are redefining modern luxury in the compact class. To do this we have opted for a combination of uncompromisingly dynamic design and an intuitive operating concept,” says Britta Seeger, the member of the Daimler AG Board of Management responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars sales. “With MBUX – the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience – we are creating a completely new customer experience.”
“New technologies must place the focus on people and make their lives easier. The new A-Class does this in many ways, and becomes an emotional and intelligent companion,” says Ola Källenius, the member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars. “One good example is MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience: it combines intuitive and natural operation with intelligent, learning software.”
“The new A-Class embodies the next stage in our design philosophy of Sensual Purity and has the potential to usher in a new design era,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. “With clear contours and sensual surfaces, we present high-tech that awakens emotions. Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme. The interior represents modern luxury at a level previously unattained in this class, and translates intelligent technology into an emotional overall experience.”
Exterior design: Exercise in purism
The purist, surface-accentuating design of the new A-Class is the next step in the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of Sensual Purity. On the basis of a compact two-box design, optimised dimensions and proportions have led to a new interpretation of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class’s design.
The exterior of the new A-Class stands for sportiness, dynamism and emotion. The progressive front design with a low bonnet, flat LED headlamps with chrome elements and torch-like daytime driving lamps ensures an emotionally appealing and alluring appearance. The striking radiator grille with Mercedes star, whose silhouette opens out towards the base as a reinterpretation of its predecessor, features pins in a diamond look and a central silver louvre to underline the sportiness of this model.
The vehicle is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character line along the side. The bonnet slopes down more heavily than in the preceding model series, emphasising the dynamic, upright front. The larger wheel arches for wheels from 16 to 19 inches emphasise the sportiness of the new A-Class and make it sit more squarely on the road. The vehicle has a wider look at the rear end thanks to a more heavily waisted greenhouse, which also emphasises the shoulders, and to the wider-spaced rear reflectors in the modular, two-section rear bumper. The slim, two-section tail lights ensure an emotionally appealing, alluring appearance.
With a Cd figure 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 class, Mercedes-Benz uses a two-section AIRPANEL (optional). This louvre system behind the radiator grille opens its adjustable louvres depending on the cooling requirement. There is an additional louvre system in the air inlet below the registration plate, which further improves system performance.
Interior design: A revolution from within
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 class from the inside with a new feeling of spaciousness. The unique interior architecture is shaped in particular by the avant-garde design of the dashboard: for the first time a cowl above the cockpit has been completely dispensed with. As a result, the wing-shaped main body of the dashboard extends from one front door to the other with no visual discontinuity. The Widescreen display is completely free-standing. The air vents in a sporty turbine-look are another highlight.
The dashboard is divided into two three-dimensional, horizontal sections: the lower section is visually separated from the main body of the dashboard by a “trench”, and it appears to float in front of the dashboard. The ambient lighting enhances this effect, accentuating the free-floating impression of the substructure. The 64 colours of the optional ambient lighting make five times as many colours available than before. And it is not just the variety that has increased, as the emotive presentation also sets standards in this segment: the different colours are composed into ten colour worlds to allow an avant-garde lighting display with spectacular colour changes.
The completely free-standing display is available in three versions:
with two 7-inch displays (17.78 cm),
with one 7- and one 10.25-inch (26 cm) display and
with two 10.25-inch displays.
MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience: Unrivalled experience
The new A-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz model to feature the completely new multimedia system MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience, which also ushers in a new era in Mercedes me connectivity. A unique feature of this system is its ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence. MBUX can be individualised and adapts to suit the user. It thus creates an emotional connection between the vehicle, driver and passengers.
Its further strengths include the high-resolution Widescreen cockpit with touchscreen operation of the media display, the navigation display with augmented reality technology plus intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition, which is activated with the code word “Hey Mercedes”. A head-up display is also available. The touchscreen is part of the comprehensive MBUX touch-control concept – a triad consisting of the touchscreen, touchpad on the centre console and touch control buttons in the steering wheel.
MBUX is a revolution of the user experience in the car. Emotively appealing showcasing features underline the comprehensibility of the control structure and thrill through brilliant 3D maximum-resolution graphics, which are rendered, i.e. calculated and displayed, in real time.
New and improved Mercedes me connect services are being launched with the new infotainment generation MBUX. These include navigation functions based on Car-to-X communication (information from vehicle to vehicle about events registered by sensors, e.g. emergency braking, ESP® intervention, or manual reporting e.g. of an accident by the driver), and Vehicle Tracker, which makes it easier to find the parked vehicle, as well as outputting a message if the parked vehicle suffers an impact or is towed away.
The Mercedes me app collection can be placed as an icon on the screen in a user-friendly way and can be freely sorted on the homepage like all other main applications. In addition, online content such as current filling station prices or the availability of parking spaces in the multi-storey car park are displayed in MBUX. Online updating is a simple way of allowing new content to be made available in MBUX.
Spaciousness and seating: The A-Class has grown up
Despite its sporty look, the new A-Class has considerably more utility value, making it as youthful as ever but grown-up like never before. More shoulder, elbow and headroom plus easier access to the rear are clear benefits, as is the larger and more family- and recreation-friendly luggage compartment. All-round visibility has also been considerably improved. This enhances both safety and the impression of spaciousness.
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 20 cm wider than before, and the luggage compartment floor is 11.5 cm longer. In conjunction with the Load Compartment package, the rear seat backrest can be positioned more upright, e.g. to accommodate bulky boxes. The stowage concept is equally practical: The oddments compartment in the centre console ahead of the shift lever has been considerably enlarged. A cup holder on the centre tunnel for mugs, cans and bottles up to 0.5 litres is a new feature in conjunction with the equipment lines. Much detailed effort has also gone into the improved all-round visibility. All in all, the area obscured by the pillars has been reduced by 10 percent compared to the preceding model.
At the same time, comfort features from higher vehicle segments make an appearance: on request, and for the first time in this model series, not only seat heating but also seat climate control and a Multicontour Seat package with massage function are available for the front seats. A total of three different front seats are available for the new A-Class: the basic model, the comfort seat and the sporty integral seat available in combination with the equipment lines.
As well as a special seat design, the Seat Comfort package (standard with some equipment lines) includes height adjustment of the front passenger seat and angle/depth adjustment of the front seat cushions. With the seat climate control, there is a radial fan in each seat cushion. The air taken in through the perforated seat cover flows through the seat structure and is vented downwards and to the rear. With the Multicontour Seat package, the side bolsters and lumbar support can be individually adjusted by an electrically driven pneumatic pump. A massage effect in the lumbar area is provided by air chambers.
Quiet running: there is strength in serenity
Quiet, vibration-free driving characteristics are a major factor in the grown-up, premium driving impression made by the new A‑Class. Alongside effective insulation of the suspension from the vehicle body and aeroacoustic measures, the bodyshell itself plays a decisive role. During the development of the A-Class, particular attention was given to high overall structural rigidity and the connecting points between the body, suspension and powertrain. Significant increases in introduction rigidities were especially achieved at the suspension connecting points that are so important to road roar, and the interior noise level was considerably reduced.
The comprehensive noise insulation concept of the new A-Class includes components such as the air and coolant management systems or trim parts in the interior being configured so as to improve noise insulation as well. Wind noises have also been significantly reduced compared to the preceding model.
Intelligent Drive: functions from the S-Class
The new A-Class has the very latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support, giving it the highest level of active safety in this segment with functions adopted from the S‑Class. For the first time, the A-Class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do this it keeps a close eye on the traffic situation: improved camera and radar systems allow it to see up to 500 m ahead. The A-Class also uses map and navigation data for assistance functions. For example, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC as part of the Driving Assistance package is able to support the driver in numerous route-specific situations, and predictively and conveniently adjust the speed e.g. when approaching bends, junctions or roundabouts. Also on board are e.g. Active Emergency Stop Assist and intuitively understandable Active Lane Change Assist.
The new A-Class comes with extended Active Brake Assist as standard. Depending on the situation, this can effectively help to mitigate the consequences of rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead, and even with crossing pedestrians and cyclists, or prevent them altogether.
PRE-SAFE® PLUS can recognise an imminent rear-end collision. If the danger of a collision persists, the system can also firmly apply the brakes of the vehicle when stationary, thus minimising the risk of injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by an impact from the rear.
The new A-Class is also the first Mercedes-Benz model to have been developed at the new Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety (TFS). The design of the vehicle structures incorporates findings from research into real accidents. Every single bodyshell component was developed according to the loads and stresses encountered, with respect to geometry, material thickness, joining technology and material quality (increased proportion of high-strength and ultra high-strength sheet steel).
The centrepiece of the body’s safety concept is the highly rigid passenger cell. Its great rigidity when subjected to accident-induced stress e.g. in frontal, lateral or rear-end collisions and rollovers is above all due to the greater use of high-strength, ultra high-strength and press-hardened sheet steel.
The driver and front passenger each have a three-point seat belt with belt force limiter and belt tensioner. In conjunction with the PRE-SAFE® system (optional equipment), the front seats are equipped with reversible belt reel tensioners. Both of the outer rear seats are fitted with a seat belt with reel tensioner and belt force limiter. The new A-Class is equipped with driver and front passenger airbags, a driver’s kneebag and windowbags as standard. Unlike in many competing models, the windowbag also covers the A-pillar for more complete passenger protection. Thorax-pelvis sidebags are likewise standard in the front, and available as optional equipment for the rear.
MULTIBEAM LED headlamps: optimum visibility in all conditions
The optional MULTIBEAM LED headlamps are another example of the technology transfer from the luxury to the compact class. These allow extremely quick and precise, electronically controlled adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current traffic situation. 18 individually actuated LEDs are housed in each headlamp. The daylight-like light colour of the LEDs is easy on the eyes and has a positive effect on concentration. The road ahead is precisely and brightly illuminated. LED High Performance headlamps are a further option. As standard the new A-Class is equipped with halogen headlamps with integrated LED daytime driving lamps.
New, efficient petrol and diesel engines
The following three engine variants will be available on the launch of the A-Class, or shortly afterwards:
A 200 (120kW/163 hp, 250 Nm; with 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission combined fuel consumption 5.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 120 g/km) or six-speed manual transmission (combined fuel consumption 5.6 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 133 g/km)
A 250 with 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission (165kW/224 hp, 350 Nm; combined fuel consumption 6.0 l/100 km, combined CO2emissions 141 g/km)
A 180 d with 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission (85kW/116 hp, 260 Nm; combined fuel consumption 4.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 108 g/km)
All the new A-Class models are powered by new, efficient engines: Two new four-cylinder petrol engines are available at market launch. Innovations in the M 282 with a displacement of 1.4 l and up to 120 kW include cylinder shutoff (initially in conjunction with the 7G-DCT transmission) and the delta shape of the cylinder head. The second new petrol engine is the M 260 with a displacement of 2.0 litres, 165 kW and 350 Nm.
New features include CAMTRONIC for the intake camshaft. Both petrol engine series have a particulate filter as standard.
Also new is the four-cylinder diesel (OM 608) with a displacement of 1.5 litres, up to 85 kW and up to 260 Nm. Its highlights are a near-engine mounted emission control system with AdBlue® technology, a turbocharger with optimised responsiveness and water intercooling. A new 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission is also being introduced. Further new engines will follow. The fuel tank has a capacity of 43 litres as standard, with a 51-litre tank optionally available.
On request the new A-Class is available with the permanent all-wheel drive system 4MATIC with fully variable torque distribution. This sporty all-wheel drive system has been developed further, and now offers even more driving pleasure and efficiency. Using the DYNAMIC SELECT switch, the driver is able to influence the 4MATIC characteristics even more than before. 4MATIC components include the power take-off to the rear axle, which is integrated into the automated dual clutch transmission, and the rear axle differential with an integrated multiplate clutch. This is no longer electro-hydraulically powered, but instead electro-mechanically.
Suspension: agile and comfortable
There is a choice of suspension systems for the A-Class, depending on engine variant and driver preference. 16-inch wheels are standard equipment. DYNAMIC SELECT is standard equipment, and at the touch of a button also 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 versions such as the A 250 and all 4MATIC models have 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. All in all, the proportion of aluminium in the suspension components is one of the highest in any suspension system in this vehicle class. The entry-level A 200 and A 180 d models have a torsion beam rear suspension.
As standard the new A-Class is equipped with a comfort suspension with steel springs and DYNAMIC SELECT. The comfort suspension lowered by 15 millimetres has specially configured springs and dampers for more sporty characteristics. The suspension with active damping control enables the driver to choose the preferred damping characteristics.