2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan first drive review: A class above

    The 2019 A-Class will function Mercedes’ new entry-level providing. However make no mistake, there’s nothing entry-level about it.

    The CLA-Class (that the A-Class does not replace, by the way in which) was a automobile designed to hit a sub-$30,000 worth level, and people finances bones plagued even its most costly trims. So reasonably than go that route a second time, Mercedes is not merely striving to hit some low, low worth with its new A-Class sedan. The tip result’s a automobile that is a bit dearer, to make sure, however really delivers a correctly luxurious expertise in a subcompact footprint.

    Magnificence that is greater than pores and skin deep

    The A-Class makes a stable first impression. Its design takes a minimalist method to exterior surfacing — nearly as if to deliberately distance itself from the overly stylized CLA — with clean surfaces and gentle edges, and solely a single character line throughout its profile. All US-market A-Class fashions get commonplace LED head- and taillights, with 17-inch wheels on the bottom vehicles, and bigger 18- and 19-inch choices for uplevel trims. Apparently, regardless of its extra upright form and lighter emphasis on swoopy sculpting, the A-Class sedan has a super-slippery Zero.22 drag coefficient, which is definitely extra aerodynamic than the CLA.

    If the outside does not impress you, the inside absolutely will. A pair of 7-inch shows come commonplace, however I am unable to think about anybody will purchase this factor with out the $2,100 Premium Package deal and its double-wide 12.Three-inch display screen improve. Past simply trying cool, these screens convey a stage of tech and performance extraordinary within the subcompact class — extra on that in a minute. Beneath the massive shows are outstanding air vents which are backlit and have a considerable, premium weight to their motion, and the slim row of switchgear beneath the middle stack each look nearly as good on this subcompact A-Class because it does in dearer Mercs.

    Regardless of its small stature, the A-Class’ inside packaging is implausible. The place the CLA’s rakish roofline too severely lower into rear seat headroom, two adults can really sit behind an A-Class with room to spare. There is a sizable trunk that is neatly disguised within the A-Class’ quick rear deck, and many well-placed cubbies and cupholders provide loads of storage on your day by day tagalongs.

    The one actual proof of the A-Class’ worth level is discovered within the cheap-feeling plastic utilized in a number of locations all through the cabin. However Mercedes neatly restricts use of this materials to surfaces you will not usually work together with everyday, like the bottom of the transmission tunnel or the underside of the steering column. The stuff you really see and contact and use is all very top quality. And contemplating the truth that one of many CLA-Class’ largest issues is its low-rent inside, this is likely one of the A-Class’ most noticeable enhancements.

    The A-Class Sedan is a better-looking, better-proportioned automobile than its so-called “four-door coupe” CLA-Class sibling.

    Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

    Prime-shelf tech

    I will admit, I wasn’t completely bought on Mercedes’ new MBUX (which I deliberately hold mispronouncing as “M-Bucks”) infotainment tech when I first tested it within the European-spec Sprinter van earlier this yr. However after a day of residing with MBUX in and round Seattle, I positively assume the system is prepared for primetime, albeit with a couple of small quirks.

    MBUX brings with it the primary integration of touchscreen performance in a Mercedes-Benz automobile, with a high-resolution show that rapidly responds to swipes and pinches, and affords commonplace Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. My mind nonetheless is not fairly used to the thought of touching a show in a Mercedes, and for those who’re the sort who’d reasonably not smudge up that display screen, a redundant trackpad controller is discovered within the heart console, along with small thumb pads on the steering wheel. One huge essential level of clarification right here: the A-Class’ trackpad shouldn’t be like Lexus‘ horrific Distant Contact interface. Moderately than controlling a cursor on the display screen, you swipe in several instructions to outlined factors on the show. To be completely trustworthy, I discovered myself utilizing this interface greater than really touching the display screen itself.

    The tech Mercedes is de facto pushing with MBUX is its improved, natural-language voice management, which I will admit, is the one a part of the MBUX equation I am nonetheless not fully in love with. Say “Hey, Mercedes” and the AI assistant asks how she can assist you, and also you’re supposed to have the ability to ask for info or vocally command actions in myriad methods. Sure, MBUX was capable of inform me the climate in Los Angeles after I requested, “Is it chilly right now in LA?” And sure, it learn off definitions of varied queried phrases, and even made me giggle out loud after I requested it to “inform me a joke” and its response was “I am sorry, my engineers had been German.” However two issues stand out that also make this technique imperfect.

    When you’ve been burned by trackpad infotainment controls prior to now, give Mercedes’ implementation a shot. It is good.

    Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

    First, the always-listening mic is maybe too delicate. MBUX is meant to come back alive while you immediately command “Hey, Mercedes” or “Hello, Mercedes,” however indoor-voice dialog that includes the phrase “Mercedes” is usually sufficient to wake the beast. (That is simply as annoying as my iPhone citing the Siri assistant when it hears me say “severely.”) If you want, you’ll be able to flip off the call-and-response performance, and solely function voice instructions through the button on the steering wheel. Given how interruptive MBUX was throughout simply sooner or later of testing, that is doubtless what I might do.

    The larger situation is what occurs when MBUX does not know how one can assist. In conversational speech, for those who ask somebody a query they do not precisely perceive, they will doubtless inform you why or work with you to determine it out. MBUX, nevertheless, simply repeats its “How can I allow you to?” line till, for those who’re like me, you simply get annoyed and yell “CANCEL” at your dashboard. I get that pure speech voice management is an ever-evolving know-how and that not each system will perceive each particular person each time. Fortunately, Mercedes says it is frequently engaged on bettering this tech, and can be capable to push updates to automobiles over the air.

    Driver help tech is in equally excessive provide, with issues like adaptive cruise management, steering help, braking help, lane-change help, route-based velocity adaptation, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep help and extra all bundled right into a $2,250 Driver Help Package deal. A head-up show can also be elective, however given how nice the large, reconfigurable, digital gauge cluster is, I am unable to think about needing redundant info projected onto the automobile’s windshield.

    The A-Class’ inside is implausible, and its high-resolution MBUX infotainment tech is housed entrance and heart.

    Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

    Stable on-road manners

    We’ll get the A-Class in front-wheel-drive A220 and all-wheel-drive A220 4Matic variants within the US, each powered by the identical 2.Zero-liter turbocharged I4 engine with 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. That is a good bit lower than the 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet made by the CLA250’s 2.Zero-liter engine, however do not let that discourage you. The A220 is way peppier than its numbers would possibly recommend.

    A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission handles shifting duties, with solely a little bit of occasional weirdness when partaking first gear off the road. In any other case, no matter drive mode — Consolation, Sport or Eco — the transmission delivers clean, fast shifts and behaves greatest when left to its personal units. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are fitted to the A220, and with no actual enchancment in shift high quality or stable driver engagement, they’re greatest left alone.

    The A220 is nice and simple to drive, with appropriately weighted steering and steady cornering traits. All US-market A-Class sedans use a MacPherson entrance strut and rear multilink suspension setup, with lowered springs on AMG Line vehicles just like the one you see right here, in addition to obtainable adaptive dampers. Oddly, the front-drive A220 reveals a a lot nicer journey high quality than the 4Matic model, with effectively managed physique motions and a agency however completely compliant journey. The all-wheel-drive automobile, in the meantime, combines harsh preliminary impacts with numerous bouncy, vertical secondary movement. Hopefully this weirdness is only a results of the check automobile’s early pre-production construct standing. I will revisit this when an A220 rolls into Roadshow’s Los Angeles workplace in a couple of months.

    The A220’s 2.Zero-liter engine is properly suited to each metropolis and freeway driving alike.

    Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

    Value each fairly penny

    That is additionally after I’ll be capable to reveal full pricing and gas economic system information, as each are nonetheless unknown proper now. The CLA-Class made headlines when it debuted due to its sub-$30,000 worth, however once more, that is not the A-Class’ mission. Proper now, Mercedes says the A220 will begin “beneath $35,000.” I am guessing $34,000. Or like, $34,990.

    Very similar to the CLA, you most likely will not see many A-Class fashions on the decrease finish of the value spectrum. My check automobile wears about $15,000 in elective extras, so I’ve little doubt it will be simple to push an A220 4Matic effectively over $50,000. At that time, a frivolously optioned C-Class, which begins simply above $40,000, additionally comes into the image.

    Then once more, the A-Class is in some ways a extra compelling choice than the bigger C-Class. It is arguably extra enticing, simply as good to drive and affords a extra strong in-car tech expertise with cabin appointments which are nonetheless correctly befitting of a Mercedes-Benz. It is what the CLA-Class ought to have been all alongside. It will not carry that sub-$30,000 worth level, however make no mistake, you may get what you pay for.

    This can be Mercedes’ finances providing, however there’s nothing budget-feeling about it.

    Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

    Editors’ observe: Roadshow accepts multiday automobile loans from producers in an effort to present scored editorial critiques. All scored automobile critiques are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases. Nonetheless, for this characteristic, the producer lined journey prices. That is frequent within the auto trade, as it’s miles extra economical to ship journalists to vehicles than to ship vehicles to journalists.

    The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial staff are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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