As another premium compact model not sold in the US, news of a revised Mercedes A-Class will be greeted with interest and frustration by American driving enthusiasts. However, its small dimensions and high price have traditionally made such a vehicle unviable in the US market.
However, the latest A-Class appears to be a stylish replacement for the more conservative outgoing model, and is packed with the latest technology.
"The A-Class is a clear statement of the new dynamism of the Mercedes-Benz brand," explained Dr Dieter Zetsche from Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "It is completely new, down to the last detail. In automotive development, it's not often you get the chance to start with a clean sheet of paper. Our engineers and designers have made the very most of that opportunity."
Design and dynamism are obvious simply in the way it sits up to 7” closer to the road than its predecessor. The radical new design was enthusiastically received at its first appearance as the "Concept A-Class" that has now been applied to the production model.
With a fresh interpretation of the classic two-box design, Mercedes designers have created an emotive exterior with a sporty flair.
The objective of the interior design was to complement the exterior and give a high-quality feel. As seen in the Concept A-Class, there is an option for smartphone integration into the operating and display system. A special app makes it possible to use the full functionality of the iPhone, and other smartphones in due course.
All trim surfaces feature an electroplated finish in "silver shadow", giving them a genuine metallic surface with a "cool touch". "This is just one example of the way in which the quality of the A-Class's interior is not defined by classic trim elements but by consistent design and specific materials," explained Hartmut Sinkwitz, Head of Interior Design.
As well as the basic specification, which can be individualized with a wide range of options, there is a choice of design and equipment lines that have been put together with the requirements of customers in mind: "Urban", "Style" and "AMGSport".
For the first time, AMG was involved in the development of the A-Class at an early stage. The A-Class Sport features black 18” AMG five-spoke wheels with 235/40 R18 tires all round, together with red brake calipers.
These give an indication of the dynamic qualities of the A 250 Sport and the A 220 CDI Sport, which are differentiated by an AMG front axle and suspension. Hints of red on the AMG spoilers also help to position the new model.
The contrast between black trim and red accents continues inside: the contrasting top-stitching on the steering wheel and seats is in this same red as the seat belts. The ambient lighting of the instruments and the highlight rings of the air vents are similarly red.
A new generation of gasoline engines with a displacement of 1.6 and 2.0 liters offer 115hp in the A 180, and 156hp in the A 200, through to 211hp in the A 250. Common to all is direct injection and turbocharging, a more advanced combustion process, and an extended stratification range for lean-burn operation that uses fast-acting injectors for multiple injection cycles, as well as on-demand multi-spark ignition.
Camtronic will debut in the 1.6L engine: adjusting intake valve lift to restrict the amount of fresh mixture used in the partial load range, reducing consumption.
The diesel engines also offer sophisticated injection and turbocharging. The A 180 CDI offers 109hp and a maximum torque of up to 185 lb-ft, while the A 200 CDI has a maximum output of 136hp and torque that rises to 220 lb-ft. The A 220 CDI has a displacement of 2.2 liters, an output of 170hp and torque of 260 lb-ft.
All engines feature the ECOstart/stop function as standard. The engines can be combined either with the new six-speed manual transmission or an optional 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The instrument cluster comprises two large round instruments, each with a small round instrument set within. When at rest, the needles stand at 6 o'clock. The pointer inlays are generally white, although with the Urban and AMG Sport are in red. The dials on the sporty lines and packages are colored silver with a checkered flag effect.
The three-spoke steering wheel comes with 12 function buttons and an electroplated bezel.
The center dome and console, as well as the positioning of the various elements such as the head unit, lower control panel, air conditioning operating unit, stowage compartments, rotary push-button and armrest, were positioned by the ergonomics experts at Mercedes-Benz.
An extensive range of seat coverings, in terms of material (leather, fabric, Artico/fabric), color combination and also geometry, provides scope for a broad range of individualization.
Sports seats with integrated head restraints are available, for example, as an optional extra with all design and equipment lines.