Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. Except with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class it was the exact opposite. Unveiled to abundant alarum in 1997, Stuttgart’s entry-level archetypal was initially a advocate MPV-style auto that promised big amplitude in a baby footprint, predating the Honda Jazz by a accomplished four years.
But as barter became added upwardly adaptable and angel conscious, they became beneath absorbed in amplitude or practicality; those considerations fell into the accomplishments as appearance took precedence. It was all about attractive good, silly, and the aboriginal A-Class was about as fashionable as a brace of biscuit corduroys.
Clearly, Mercedes took afflatus from Audi – which had for years been architecture the safe, conventional, handsome A3 – because afterwards afraid with the tallboy bodystyle for one added generation, it afresh alien a safe, conventional, handsome A-Class in 2012. Never apperception that it was abate on the central admitting actuality so abundant beyond on the outside, or that it rode like a skateboard – it was a hit.
Now, then, to the new W177 A-Class. Mercedes has ashore to its approved and activated blueprint but has accustomed the car a polarising new look, blimp it will a bulk of new technologies and has approved axis the ride into article aing comfortable. Has it all worked? We’ve travelled all the way to Croatia to acquisition out.
The approachable W176 archetypal wasn’t absolutely small, but that hasn’t chock-full Mercedes from addition the A-Class considerably. Barometer 4,419 mm long, 1,796 mm advanced and 1,440 mm tall, the new car is a whopping 127 mm longer, 16 mm added and 7 mm taller than before, and its 2,729 mm wheelbase is 30 mm longer.
All this after-effects in lankier, added airy accommodation that accomplish the A-Class attending added complete and adult on the outside. That doesn’t beggarly that Mercedes has accustomed up block the adolescent crowd, as the architecture has been accustomed a accomplished new aberration in band with the latest abundance of the company’s Sensual Purity administration language.
The low advanced end has been aerial about ample from the new CLS, with a trapezoidal grille belted by cone-shaped headlights, while the beanie shutline is now inset into the anatomy and afar from the grille and headlights – a analysis usually aloof for Mercedes’ higher-end coupés like the S-Class Coupé.
The anatomy ancillary surfacing has been simplified, dispensing with the W176’s upswept lower appearance line; the new accumbent ambit emphasise the car’s length. Moving to the rear, the car appears added acknowledgment to the glasshouse that tapers added appear the top, forth with the broader two-piece appendage lights. As usual, there’s a added advancing AMG Band administration package, forth with caster options now barometer up to 19 inches.
Also alternative are LED Aerial Achievement headlights, forth with Multibeam LED headlights that affection 18 alone high-beam diodes – these can be switched off alone to abstain blinding added motorists, acceptance for abiding use of the aerial beams. Opting for either one of these headlights will additionally accord you uprated appendage lights with ablaze guides that go all about the perimeter, evocative of those you’ll acquisition on the aback of a Kia Cerato – as acicular by added than one announcer during the media analysis drive.
Inside, the A-Class follows the arrangement aboriginal set by the W222 S-Class, with annular air vents (featuring the now accustomed turbine-inspired vanes) and a ample widescreen affectation console – now absolutely freestanding. As standard, the two apparatus and infotainment displays admeasurement seven inches across, but they can both be bumped up to 10.25-inch units; the centre awning is now a touch-sensitive assemblage as well.
The new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) makes its admission on the new A-Class. In befitting with the accepted industry trend of smartphone-inspired user interfaces, the arrangement assuredly gets a home screen, with ample icons and snippets of alive information, agnate to adaptation 6.0 of BMW’s iDrive (BMW has aback switched to a altered architecture with alike bigger customisable widgets). There’s additionally an absorbing new aggrandized absoluteness aeronautics action that overlays dejected arrows and artery names assimilate a augment from a front-facing camera.
On models with the range-topping Widescreen Cockpit flatscreens, the apparatus affectation has been redesigned, with a twin-dial blueprint that can be customised with altered $.25 of information. The interface additionally allows assertive functions of the car, such as the disciplinarian abetment systems and the map from the aeronautics system, to be apparent in fullscreen mode.
As you’d expect, the systems assignment allegedly enough, abnormally with the new touchscreen. The new touchpad, which replaces the Comand knob, is a little beneath acknowledged – although it’s not about as aberrant as Lexus’ accidental Remote Touch interface, it’s still not absolutely absolute abundant aback you’re on the move.
During my time with the car, I abundant adopted application the pads on the council wheel, because at atomic I could accumulate both easily on the tiller. Also, the USB ports throughout the car are now all USB-C, which for best bodies agency a cruise to Digital Mall for a new cable or at atomic an adapter.
Mercedes is additionally blame the system’s bogus intelligence functionality, which uses apparatus acquirements to acclimate to the user’s habits and preferences. For example, the car will abide the Suggestions card with playlists you generally accept to, aeronautics admonition to places you usually go to and the bodies you alarm the most, depending on the time of day.
Then there’s the much-vaunted Linguatronic articulation control, acting as a claimed abettor in a agnate attitude to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Application the activation term, “Hey Mercedes,” you can accomplish assorted aspects of the vehicle, such as music playback, altitude ascendancy and navigation.
The standout affection is the adeptness to accept not alone accustomed accent but additionally aberrant accent – adage “I am cold,” for example, will acquaint the altitude ascendancy to accession the temperature. The arrangement is additionally able to apprentice your accent and can accept non-native English speakers better, and new abracadabra and changes in the accent will be uploaded to the billow over time.
Voice ascendancy is an accessible way to affect your mates, but I’m not assertive that the arrangement as it stands today will be of abundant use. That atypical altitude ascendancy action is appealing air-conditioned (excuse the pun), but it alone adjusts the temperature in one-degree increments anniversary time, so it’s not absolutely practical. And hardly anyone in Malaysia uses the congenital aeronautics system, so the appearance congenital into the articulation ascendancy – such as the What3Words action that lets you go anywhere in the apple application a three-word abode – will all be for blank over here.
You get the faculty that all this technology, the agleam $.25 of metal trim and the arrant ambient lighting arrangement – which, by the way, can now accomplish a blatant colour-changing ablaze appearance – are there to abstract you from some of the areas in which Mercedes has cut some corners, or artlessly hasn’t move the d on as decidedly from the approachable archetypal as we would’ve liked.
Material affection on a accomplished is decent, with affluence of soft-touch abstracts dotted about the cabin. But aloof like in its predecessor, you alone accept to go beneath acme in this new car to acquisition hard, cutting plastic, and the swathes of appearance atramentous trim are magnets for fingerprints and scratches. The column-mounted gearshift and indicator stalks are a accurate disappointment – the thin, chiffon sticks are a apple abroad from the accepted ample Mercedes pieces, and admit annihilation like the activity of bendability consecutive Merc owners are acclimated to.
Practicality, meanwhile, has been abundant bigger acknowledgment to the sizeably beyond body, with rear cartage in accurate accepting a ample bulk of legroom in the process. It’s still not what you’d alarm ample – the Jazz will run rings about it – but it’s abundant bigger over the old model, which was absolutely rather awkward at the back. Boot amplitude has additionally added by 29 litres to 370 litres.
Safety-wise, the car is accessible with a accomplished arrangement of semi-autonomous alive technologies from its beyond siblings. A from the accepted Alive Brake Assist free emergency braking, buyers can additionally specify the Alive Abetment Amalgamation that adds Distronic adaptive cruise control, Alive Council Abettor and Alive Lane Change Abettor that takes affliction of steering, acceleration, braking and will alike change lanes for you at speeds of up to 210 km/h. None of which, of course, are offered in Malaysia, AEB aside.
The new A-Class is offered common at barrage with a best of three four-cylinder engines – two petrol and one diesel. Added agent options will be fabricated accessible after on, including a new entry-level AMG model, the A 35 with 306 hp and 400 Nm from a 2.0 litre mill. The A 45 will abide to sit at the top of the range, with outputs reportedly blame upwards of 400 hp.
In the meantime, there’s the A 180 d with an upgraded OM608 adaptation of the antecedent 1.5 litre turbodiesel. It now has an electronically-controlled capricious geometry turbocharger chip into the bankrupt manifold, an assimilation assorted chip into the arch awning and a careful catalytic abridgement (SCR) arrangement with AdBlue injection. All in all, it makes 116 hp at 4,000 rpm and 260 Nm of torque from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm.
Of added appliance are the two petrol models, both of which accept aloof been launched in Malaysia. The big account is that the A 200 dispenses with its 1.6 litre turbo comminute in favour of an alike abate 1.33 litre M282 unit, developed in affiliation with Renault – as is the diesel. It appearance alive shutoff, an cyberbanking wastegate, Nanoslide-coated walls to minimise abrasion and a delta-shaped head.
Despite the abridgement in swept volume, ability has absolutely added by seven application to 163 hp at 5,500 rpm; aiguille torque holds base at 250 Nm amid 1,620 and 4,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the A 250 uses a development of Mercedes’ own 2.0 litre assemblage – the new M260 makes 224 hp at 5,500 rpm and 350 Nm amid 1,800 to 4,000 rpm, an access of six horsepower.
Modifications over the old agent accommodate Conicshape bores that are hardly added at the basal – afresh to abate abrasion – forth with agent cooling ducts, Camtronic capricious valve lift, an bigger BlueDirect lean-burn agitation arrangement and a centrifugal damper for bigger refinement. Both petrol engines get a chapped filter, and all models accommodated Euro 6d-TEMP emissions regulations.
Fuel burning is rated at 4.1 litres per 100 km for the A 180 d, 5.2 litres per 100 km (5.8 litres per 100 km with a six-speed chiral gearbox) for the A 200 and 6.2 litres per 100 km for the A 250. As before, a seven-speed wet dual-clutch chiral is offered on all models, but the one in the A 200 and A 180 d now comes from Getrag; the above is additionally accessible with the above chiral ‘box.
The A 250 gets a aesthetic adaptation of the absolute Mercedes unit, with bigger about-face achievement and acknowledgment acknowledgment to an alternative abrasion arrangement and pistons with lower hysteresis; it additionally has bigger advice with the agent for faster accouterment in chiral mode. Both petrol models get an alternative 4Matic all-wheel drive arrangement that can now accelerate up to 100% of torque to the rear wheels.
We’ve apprenticed the petrol models on the anchorage surrounding the bank burghal of Split, and the A 200 is absolutely the bottom of the two, and not aloof because of the lower numbers. It’s absolutely not apathetic – Mercedes claims a zero-to-100 km/h time of aloof eight abnormal flat, and already the car gets activity it feels every bit as quick as that.
What the abstracts don’t acquaint you is that in practice, the agent aloof doesn’t feel like it has the broad, collapsed torque ambit that you appear to apprehend from a avant-garde turbo engine. There’s a bit of turbo lag afore the advance bliss in, and while the comminute does accept able mid-range punch, it starts to run out of breath by the time you ability the aerial third of the rev counter.
The about abridgement of abhorrent cull is acceptable the acumen why the chiral is so acquisitive to downshift whenever you crowd the throttle. Too eager, in fact, to the point that advance becomes rather hasty in the cut and advance of burghal traffic. It additionally betrays the engine’s vocal, abrupt beef aback formed hard, a babble that is at allowance with the car’s contrarily aesthetic nature.
If the A 200, for all its foibles, delivers a appropriate about-face of speed, afresh the A 250 is absolute fast, hitting 100 km/h in a baking 6.2 seconds. This is the agent with which the A-Class is at its best adequate – it’s added acquisitive to rev, and aback it does it makes a smoother, added affable sound. The DCT is additionally beneath decumbent to hunting for the appropriate accessory here, authoritative for a added amenable drive.
And what about the handling? That will acceptable depend on what anatomy bureaucracy you opt for – and this time there’s a bigger aberration amid the assorted abeyance options. Added able models like the A 250 absorb the absolute four-link rear suspension, as do cartage with alternative adaptive damping, all-wheel drive and/or auto beyond than 19 inches in diameter.
More arguable is that the A 200 and A 180 d accept – shock, horror! – a simpler, added abecedarian bewilderment axle setup, which could awfully affect the car’s alley manners. As before, the advanced abeyance is fabricated up of MacPherson struts, and electric ability council with speed-sensitive abetment is standard-fit.
It should be acclaimed that all the cars we drove, while front-driven, were adapted with adaptive damping and appropriately had multilink rear abeyance beyond the lath – so we’ll accept to assets judgement on the A 200 until we accept a go in a car in bounded specification, which has the bewilderment axle setup.
As it stands, with all the advantage boxes ticked, the A-Class is a abundant added bound car than its predecessor. Whereas the old archetypal would ballyhoo over any apparent imperfection, this new one has absolute acquiescence and, with the dampers set to Abundance mode, handles accessory bumps and undulations appealing well. But it’s not perfect, as it still crashes over beyond potholes, abnormally on the analysis cars’ massive 19-inch alloys.
Thankfully, the added adaptability over asperous anchorage hasn’t blah the car’s action in the corners. About-face in and anatomy movements are advisedly able-bodied controlled, anchor levels are adequately aerial and aback the anatomy does ablution into understeer, it does so in a stable, anticipated manner.
If alone the council was added direct. This acceptable has abundant to do with the council abetment function, befuddled in as allotment of the Alive Abetment package, that corrects any anatomy of abominable administration quirk. Mercedes has asked a lot from this arrangement – it has to countersteer in the accident of oversteer, antithesis out torque steer, accomplish corrections aback braking on breach surfaces and atone for crosswinds and alley camber.
As a aftereffect of this, the council instead feels apathetic and doesn’t acquaint as abundant from the advanced auto to your easily as you’d like. While the anatomy is still acquisitive to detect out the acme of a corner, you consistently accept to additional assumption area absolutely the car is headed at any accustomed moment. Again, our cars won’t appear with the Alive Abetment package, so we’ll aloof accept to delay and see if this holds accurate over here.
At the end of the day, the new A-Class is a appropriate footfall advanced from the old model, in the two key areas the closing has consistently faltered. Not alone is it a hardly roomier, added applied ancestors car, but it is additionally added aesthetic and delivers a far added cosseting ride on aboriginal bloom – with the accepted admonition of us defective to drive bounded units on bounded anchorage for a absolute assessment.
But is it a big abundant step? I’m not so abiding – for all these improvements, this charcoal a adequately boilerplate car to drive in a sea of added added able machines in the boilerplate C-segment. And that’s afore the accession of the new Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, the closing of which is additionally set to go front-wheel drive in the aing generation, abundant to the abhorrence and abhorrence of purists worldwide.
Perhaps this marks a about-face in what it agency to be a Mercedes-Benz. That it no best stands for ahead in automated engineering or ride abundance – not that the car is by any agency poor in those respects – but is added about carrying the appearance and brio that buyers ask for these canicule and packing the car with the array of technologies that accomplish a Silicon Valley architect anemic at the knees.
And in that account the A-Class absolutely succeeds. The old car, warts and all, has become such a adorable article for the adolescent bearing that is absorption to the Three-Pointed Star these days, and the new one is able-bodied on its way to afterward in those footsteps. The actuality that all these infotainment and bogus intelligence appearance are debuting here, and not in the S-Class – the acme jewel of the calendar – is telling.
There will be those who will bewail this approach, but I don’t anticipate it’s such a bad thing. There’s annihilation bigger to end a bad day than to accelerate into a berth that surprises and delights, one that dazzles you with big, admirable screens and colourful lights bright in the algid metal trim. Sometimes, not alike a active bang bottomward your favourite alley can cure you absolutely so completely.
The new W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been launched in Malaysia, priced at RM227,888 for the A 200 Progressive Band and RM263,888 for the A 250 AMG Line. Browse abounding blueprint and accessories on CarBase.my.
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