Necessity is the mom of invention, they are saying. Besides with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class it was the precise reverse. Unveiled to nice fanfare in 1997, Stuttgart’s entry-level mannequin was initially a revolutionary MPV-style hatchback that promised huge area in a small footprint, predating the Honda Jazz by a complete 4 years.
However as prospects turned extra upwardly cell and picture aware, they turned much less concerned about area or practicality; these concerns fell into the background as fashion took priority. It was all about wanting good, foolish, and the unique A-Class was about as trendy as a pair of beige corduroys.
Clearly, Mercedes took inspiration from Audi – which had for years been constructing the protected, standard, good-looking A3 – as a result of after sticking with the tallboy bodystyle for yet one more technology, it then launched a protected, standard, good-looking A-Class in 2012. By no means thoughts that it was smaller on the within regardless of being a lot bigger on the skin, or that it rode like a skateboard – it was a success.
Now, then, to the brand new W177 A-Class. Mercedes has caught to its tried and examined method however has given the automotive a polarising new look, stuffed it would a slew of latest applied sciences and has tried turning the journey into one thing approaching snug. Has all of it labored? We’ve travelled all the way in which to Croatia to search out out.
The outgoing W176 mannequin wasn’t precisely small, however that hasn’t stopped Mercedes from stretching the A-Class significantly. Measuring four,419 mm lengthy, 1,796 mm vast and 1,440 mm tall, the brand new automotive is a whopping 127 mm longer, 16 mm wider and seven mm taller than earlier than, and its 2,729 mm wheelbase is 30 mm longer.
All this ends in lankier, extra relaxed proportions that make the A-Class look extra mature and complicated on the skin. That doesn’t imply that Mercedes has given up chasing the youthful crowd, because the design has been given a complete new twist consistent with the newest iteration of the corporate’s Sensual Purity styling language.
The low entrance finish has been lifted nearly wholesale from the brand new CLS, with a trapezoidal grille flanked by tapered headlights, whereas the bonnet shutline is now inset into the physique and separated from the grille and headlights – a remedy normally reserved for Mercedes’ higher-end coupés just like the S-Class Coupé.
The physique aspect surfacing has been simplified, meting out with the W176’s upswept decrease character line; the brand new horizontal strains emphasise the automotive’s size. Transferring to the rear, the automotive seems wider due to the glasshouse that tapers extra in the direction of the highest, together with the broader two-piece tail lights. As regular, there’s a extra aggressive AMG Line styling bundle, together with wheel choices now measuring as much as 19 inches.
Additionally non-compulsory are LED Excessive Efficiency headlights, together with Multibeam LED headlights that function 18 particular person high-beam diodes – these may be switched off individually to keep away from blinding different motorists, permitting for everlasting use of the excessive beams. Choosing both of these headlights may also offer you uprated tail lights with gentle guides that go throughout the perimeter, harking back to these you’ll discover on the again of a Kia Cerato – as pointed by multiple journalist through the media take a look at drive.
Inside, the A-Class follows the template first set by the W222 S-Class, with spherical air vents (that includes the now acquainted turbine-inspired vanes) and a big widescreen show panel – now utterly freestanding. As normal, the 2 instrument and infotainment shows measure seven inches throughout, however they’ll each be bumped as much as 10.25-inch items; the centre display screen is now a touch-sensitive unit as properly.
The brand new Mercedes-Benz Person Expertise (MBUX) makes its debut on the brand new A-Class. Consistent with the final trade development of smartphone-inspired person interfaces, the system lastly will get a house display screen, with giant icons and snippets of stay data, just like model 6.zero of BMW’s iDrive (BMW has since switched to a special design with even larger customisable widgets). There’s additionally a powerful new augmented actuality navigation operate that overlays blue arrows and avenue names onto a feed from a front-facing digicam.
On fashions with the range-topping Widescreen Cockpit flatscreens, the instrument show has been redesigned, with a twin-dial format that may be customised with totally different bits of data. The interface additionally permits sure capabilities of the automotive, reminiscent of the driving force help techniques and the map from the navigation system, to be proven in fullscreen mode.
As you’d count on, the techniques work intuitively sufficient, particularly with the brand new touchscreen. The brand new touchpad, which replaces the Comand knob, is rather less profitable – though it’s not almost as wayward as Lexus’ haphazard Distant Contact interface, it’s nonetheless not fairly exact sufficient while you’re on the transfer.
Throughout my time with the automotive, I a lot most popular utilizing the pads on the steering wheel, as a result of no less than I may preserve each arms on the tiller. Additionally, the USB ports all through the automotive are actually all USB-C, which for most individuals means a visit to Digital Mall for a brand new cable or no less than an adapter.
Mercedes can be pushing the system’s synthetic intelligence performance, which makes use of machine studying to adapt to the person’s habits and preferences. For instance, the automotive will populate the Options menu with playlists you typically hearken to, navigation instructions to locations you normally go to and the individuals you name probably the most, relying on the time of day.
Then there’s the much-vaunted Linguatronic voice management, appearing as a private assistant in the same vein to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Utilizing the activation time period, “Hey Mercedes,” you’ll be able to function varied facets of the automobile, reminiscent of music playback, local weather management and navigation.
The standout function is the power to know not solely pure language but in addition oblique speech – saying “I’m chilly,” for instance, will instruct the local weather management to lift the temperature. The system can be in a position to be taught your speech and might perceive non-native English audio system higher, and new buzzwords and modifications within the language will likely be uploaded to the cloud over time.
Voice management is a straightforward solution to impress your mates, however I’m not satisfied that the system because it stands at this time will likely be of a lot use. That novel local weather management operate is fairly cool (excuse the pun), nevertheless it solely adjusts the temperature in one-degree increments every time, so it’s not precisely sensible. And hardly anybody in Malaysia makes use of the built-in navigation system, so the options constructed into the voice management – such because the What3Words operate that permits you to go wherever on this planet utilizing a three-word handle – will all be for nought over right here.
You get the sense that each one this expertise, the shiny bits of steel trim and the glitzy ambient lighting system – which, by the way in which, can now carry out a flashy colour-changing gentle present – are there to distract you from among the areas during which Mercedes has minimize some corners, or just hasn’t transfer the sport on as considerably from the outgoing mannequin as we’d’ve preferred.
Materials high quality on a complete is respectable, with loads of soft-touch supplies dotted across the cabin. However similar to in its predecessor, you solely must go under chest top on this new automotive to search out exhausting, scratchy plastic, and the swathes of gloss black trim are magnets for fingerprints and scratches. The column-mounted gearshift and indicator stalks are a specific disappointment – the skinny, flimsy sticks are a world away from the same old hefty Mercedes items, and impart nothing like the sensation of solidity serial Merc house owners are used to.
Practicality, in the meantime, has been a lot improved due to the sizeably bigger physique, with rear passengers specifically gaining a substantial quantity of legroom within the course of. It’s nonetheless not what you’d name roomy – the Jazz will run rings round it – nevertheless it’s a lot improved over the outdated mannequin, which was actually moderately cramped on the again. Boot area has additionally elevated by 29 litres to 370 litres.
Security-wise, the automotive is obtainable with a complete array of semi-autonomous driving applied sciences from its bigger siblings. Except for the usual Energetic Brake Help autonomous emergency braking, consumers can even specify the Driving Help Package deal that provides Distronic adaptive cruise management, Energetic Steering Assistant and Energetic Lane Change Assistant that takes care of steering, acceleration, braking and can even change lanes for you at speeds of as much as 210 km/h. None of which, in fact, are supplied in Malaysia, AEB apart.
The brand new A-Class is obtainable worldwide at launch with a selection of three four-cylinder engines – two petrol and one diesel. Different engine choices will likely be made obtainable in a while, together with a brand new entry-level AMG mannequin, the A 35 with 306 hp and 400 Nm from a 2.zero litre mill. The A 45 will proceed to take a seat on the prime quality, with outputs reportedly pushing upwards of 400 hp.
Within the meantime, there’s the A 180 d with an upgraded OM608 model of the earlier 1.5 litre turbodiesel. It now has an electronically-controlled variable geometry turbocharger built-in into the exhaust manifold, an consumption manifold built-in into the cylinder head cowl and a selective catalytic discount (SCR) system with AdBlue injection. All in all, it makes 116 hp at four,000 rpm and 260 Nm of torque from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm.
Of extra relevance are the 2 petrol fashions, each of which have simply been launched in Malaysia. The massive information is that the A 200 dispenses with its 1.6 litre turbo mill in favour of a good smaller 1.33 litre M282 unit, developed in partnership with Renault – as is the diesel. It options lively cylinder shutoff, an digital wastegate, Nanoslide-coated cylinder partitions to minimise friction and a delta-shaped cylinder head.
Regardless of the discount in swept quantity, energy has truly elevated by seven horsepower to 163 hp at 5,500 rpm; peak torque holds station at 250 Nm between 1,620 and four,000 rpm. In the meantime, the A 250 makes use of a improvement of Mercedes’ personal 2.zero litre unit – the brand new M260 makes 224 hp at 5,500 rpm and 350 Nm between 1,800 to four,000 rpm, a rise of six horsepower.
Modifications over the outdated engine embrace Conicshape cylinder bores which might be barely wider on the backside – once more to cut back friction – together with piston cooling ducts, Camtronic variable valve elevate, an improved BlueDirect lean-burn combustion system and a centrifugal damper for higher refinement. Each petrol engines get a particulate filter, and all fashions meet Euro 6d-TEMP emissions rules.
Gasoline consumption is rated at four.1 litres per 100 km for the A 180 d, 5.2 litres per 100 km (5.eight litres per 100 km with a six-speed guide gearbox) for the A 200 and 6.2 litres per 100 km for the A 250. As earlier than, a seven-speed moist dual-clutch transmission is obtainable on all fashions, however the one within the A 200 and A 180 d now comes from Getrag; the previous can be obtainable with the aforementioned guide ‘field.
The A 250 will get a refined model of the present Mercedes unit, with improved shift efficiency and response due to an non-compulsory friction system and pistons with decrease hysteresis; it additionally has improved communication with the engine for sooner shifts in guide mode. Each petrol fashions get an non-compulsory 4Matic all-wheel drive system that may now ship as much as 100% of torque to the rear wheels.
We’ve pushed the petrol fashions on the roads surrounding the seaside metropolis of Cut up, and the A 200 is certainly the lesser of the 2, and never simply due to the decrease numbers. It’s actually not sluggish – Mercedes claims a zero-to-100 km/h time of simply eight seconds flat, and as soon as the automotive will get going it feels each bit as fast as that.
What the figures don’t let you know is that in observe, the engine simply doesn’t really feel prefer it has the broad, flat torque curve that you just come to count on from a contemporary turbo engine. There’s a little bit of turbo lag earlier than the thrust kicks in, and whereas the mill does have sturdy mid-range punch, it begins to expire of puff by the point you attain the higher third of the rev counter.
The relative lack of low-down pull is probably going the rationale why the transmission is so desperate to downshift everytime you prod the throttle. Too keen, the truth is, to the purpose that progress turns into moderately jerky within the minimize and thrust of city visitors. It additionally betrays the engine’s vocal, gruff grumble when labored exhausting, a noise that’s at odds with the automotive’s in any other case refined nature.
If the A 200, for all its foibles, delivers an honest flip of pace, then the A 250 is outright quick, hitting 100 km/h in a blistering 6.2 seconds. That is the engine with which the A-Class is at its most snug – it’s extra desperate to rev, and when it does it makes a smoother, extra nice sound. The DCT can be much less vulnerable to looking for the appropriate gear right here, making for a extra easygoing drive.
And what concerning the dealing with? That can doubtless rely upon what chassis setup you go for – and this time there’s an even bigger distinction between the varied suspension choices. Extra highly effective fashions just like the A 250 retain the unbiased four-link rear suspension, as do autos with non-compulsory adaptive damping, all-wheel drive and/or wheels bigger than 19 inches in diameter.
Extra controversial is that the A 200 and A 180 d obtain – shock, horror! – a less complicated, extra rudimentary torsion beam setup, which may vastly have an effect on the automotive’s street manners. As earlier than, the entrance suspension is made up of MacPherson struts, and electrical energy steering with speed-sensitive help is standard-fit.
It must be famous that each one the vehicles we drove, whereas front-driven, had been fitted with adaptive damping and thus had multilink rear suspension throughout the board – so we’ll have to order judgement on the A 200 till we’ve a go in a automotive in native specification, which has the torsion beam setup.
Because it stands, with all the choice containers ticked, the A-Class is a way more resolved automotive than its predecessor. Whereas the outdated mannequin would clatter over any floor imperfection, this new one has precise compliance and, with the dampers set to Consolation mode, handles minor bumps and undulations fairly properly. Nevertheless it’s not good, because it nonetheless crashes over bigger potholes, particularly on the take a look at vehicles’ huge 19-inch alloys.
Fortunately, the added pliancy over tough roads hasn’t dulled the automotive’s verve within the corners. Flip in and physique actions are resolutely properly managed, grip ranges are pretty excessive and when the chassis does wash into understeer, it does so in a secure, predictable method.
If solely the steering was extra direct. This doubtless has a lot to do with the steering help operate, thrown in as a part of the Driving Help bundle, that corrects any type of undesirable dealing with quirk. Mercedes has requested rather a lot from this technique – it has to countersteer within the occasion of oversteer, stability out torque steer, make corrections when braking on break up surfaces and compensate for crosswinds and street camber.
As a consequence of this, the steering as a substitute feels inert and doesn’t talk as a lot from the entrance wheels to your arms as you’d like. Whereas the chassis remains to be keen to smell out the apex of a nook, you at all times must second guess the place precisely the automotive is headed at any given second. Once more, our vehicles gained’t include the Driving Help bundle, so we’ll simply have to attend and see if this holds true over right here.
On the finish of the day, the brand new A-Class is an honest step ahead from the outdated mannequin, within the two key areas the latter has at all times faltered. Not solely is it a slightly roomier, extra sensible household automotive, however it is usually extra refined and delivers a much more cosseting journey on first blush – with the same old caveat of us needing to drive native items on native roads for a definitive evaluation.
However is it a large enough step? I’m not so certain – for all these enhancements, this stays a reasonably common automotive to drive in a sea of more and more extra succesful machines within the mainstream C-segment. And that’s earlier than the arrival of the brand new Audi A3 and BMW 1 Collection, the latter of which can be set to go front-wheel drive within the subsequent technology, a lot to the worry and loathing of purists worldwide.
Maybe this marks a shift in what it means to be a Mercedes-Benz. That it now not stands for superiority in mechanical engineering or journey consolation – not that the automotive is by any means poor in these respects – however is extra about delivering the fashion and panache that consumers ask for as of late and packing the automotive with the type of applied sciences that make a Silicon Valley engineer weak on the knees.
And in that respect the A-Class positively succeeds. The outdated automotive, warts and all, has change into such a fascinating object for the youthful technology that’s flocking to the Three-Pointed Star as of late, and the brand new one is properly on its solution to following in these footsteps. The truth that all these infotainment and synthetic intelligence options are debuting right here, and never within the S-Class – the crown jewel of the lineup – is telling.
There will likely be those that will bemoan this strategy, however I don’t suppose it’s such a nasty factor. There’s nothing higher to finish a nasty day than to slip right into a cabin that surprises and delights, one which dazzles you with huge, stunning screens and vibrant lights glinting within the chilly steel trim. Typically, not even a spirited blast down your favorite street can remedy you fairly so utterly.
The brand new W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been launched in Malaysia, priced at RM227,888 for the A 200 Progressive Line and RM263,888 for the A 250 AMG Line. Browse full specs and gear on CarBase.my.
GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz A 200 Progressive Line in Malaysia
GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line in Malaysia
The submit DRIVEN: W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class in Croatia Auto Reviews & New Cars on Paul Tan’s Automotive Information.