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All-new Mercesdes-Benz A-Class luxury hatchback revealed

The all-new 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class compact luxury hatchback has been revealed, sporting a sharper look, more technology and more efficiency than ever before.

The unveiling took place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, last week, where the luxury brand showcased several different versions of the A-Class – all of them looking sharper and more serious than the predecessor model, but with smoother lines on the doors that help in aiding the A-Class to look a bit more premium than before.

It isn’t just outside that the new A-Class offers up some striking new features – the interior has seen a major makeover, with the most notable change being the twin screens that span almost two-thirds of the dashboard.

The Widescreen Cockpit, as Mercedes-Benz labels it, is an all-new infotainment system known as MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) – it features an array of different control options, including the touch-capacitive centre screen, a central touchpad between the seats, touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, and “intelligent voice control with natural voice recognition”. That last bit is pretty neat – so, think about your smartphone or your smart home gadget, and how might say “hey Siri” or “hey Google” to those gizmos. In the new A-Class, you can say “hey Mercedes”, and it will ask you how it can help.

But the cool bit is that instead of having to say weird sentences like “adjust temperature to 18 degrees”, you can simply say something like “hey Mercedes, I’m hot” and it will adjust the temperature. Apparently thanks to the systems inbuilt artificial intelligence, it’ll learn your preferences and habits as you go – but, oddly, we weren’t able to test the system at the unveiling.

It isn’t certain that buyers will see the twin 10.25-inch displays in every model, as there are entry-level versions with 7.0-inch screens instead. No matter which A-Class you buy, though, you get a fully digital instrument cluster, in-built satellite navigation, Bluetooth, and Android Auto / Apple CarPlay connectivity. Mercedes-Benz UK told us that the new model will come “highly specified”.

The aim of the new media system is to make the car “a mobile assistant”, one that you will hopefully develop an “emotional” attachment to, according to the company.

Ambient lighting is another key element to the cabin of the new-generation A-Class – there are even lights in the air-vents – and the illumination doubles as a safety feature: the new hatch has a safety component to the blind-spot monitoring, where it can detect cyclists and warn the occupants so they don’t open their doors into the path of the rider.

That’s just one part of an impressive safety arsenal, borrowing bits and pieces from the S-Class limousine flagship. It can drive semi-autonomously in some situations, with camera and radar systems that can read the road 500 metres ahead, and it can adjust the speed of the car based on navigation and mapping information.

Of course there is auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist with steering assist, and there is blind-spot assist (with cyclist detection), rear cross-traffic and even forward cross-traffic intervention – if you don’t see a car at an upcoming intersection, it can hit the brakes before you hit anything else.

The interior has seen massive changes aside from the screens and lights – it is bigger than before, thanks to a stretch in the wheelbase (now 2729mm – was 2699mm) and overall length is up by a substantial 120mm, to 4419mm. It is wider now, too, at 1796mm (up 16mm), and sits a little higher at 1440mm (was 1433mm).

All that translates to extra cabin space in every direction, and of course there has been a bit of European oneupmanship in the form of boot volume claims: the new A-Class has 370 litres (VDA) of cargo space, up 29L on the existing model, and 10L more than the BMW 1 Series (but still 10L short of the Audi A3 hatch).

So, how will the new A-Class line-up look?

The range is set to include the entry-level A200 model which is fitted with a new 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with up to 120kW and 250Nm, and when paired with the seven-speed dual-clutch auto, it can feature cylinder deactivation – a bit like the 1.4-litre in the Audi A3. It is front-wheel drive, and has fuel consumption at 5.1 litres per 100km (CO2: 120g/km) for the dual-clutch. model, which will arrive first. The six-speed manual version will follow, with consumption claimed at 5.6L/100km, and CO2 rated at 133g/km.

A note: Benz says this Renault-derived engine (based on the 1.2-litre turbo four from the French company) is a 1.4-litre, but it’s actually a 1332cc engine, which traditionally would make it a 1.3-litre, because it should be rounded down. But there is form from Benz, here – they round up to 6.3L when the AMG models are actually 6.2L.

A lower-spec version of the 1.4-litre engine is expected for the A180 petrol model next year, and that model will continue in the UK. It’ll likely keep the seven-speed dual-clutch auto or six-speed manual, and – like the A200 – will have a torsion-beam rear suspension setup, rather than the more sophisticated multilink setup the current version runs.

The A250 Sport 4Matic features a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 165kW of power and 350Nm of torque. It’ll be a seven-speed dual-clutch auto and have all-wheel drive, with fuel consumption claimed at 6.0 litres per 100km and CO2 pegged at 141g/km.

At launch, the diesel offering is the 1.5-litre four-cylinder A180d, which has 85kW of power and 260Nm of torque, and a seven-speed dual-clutch with front-wheel drive. Consumption is claimed at 4.1L/100km, and emissions at 108g/km.

A more powerful A200d is expected, and there could be a lesser-tuned economy-focused diesel version, as well.

Mercedes-Benz UK public relations manager Rory Lumsdon told us that the new-generation A-Class hatchback is set to open for orders on March 5, 2018, and that deliveries will commence in June of this year.

“The UK is the biggest market in the world for the A-Class,” Lumsdon said, with 43,717 sales in 2017 giving the German luxury hatch a top-ten spot in the market… 10th exactly, to be precise.

As for the price? It is tipped that the new model will slip in under the GBP25,000 mark for the A180d automatic, which will be the most affordable version at launch.

Written by Matt Campbell, Senior Editor at CarsGuide

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February 8, 2018

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