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Remember when, if you wanted the very best technology a car company had to offer, you’d have to spring for the most expensive model in the line-up?
In the case of Mercedes-Benz, that meant shelling out for a six-figure S-Class; the brand’s technology leader since forever, and the model that would debut all the cool new features that would eventually sprinkle down to the lesser cars in the range.
Think of it as the automotive equivalent of trickle-down economics, then. Only in the world of cars, the cheaper vehicles would actually benefit, eventually.
But the new A-Class sedan takes that age-old strategy and turns it on its head.
Here is the cheapest model in the Benz range (though the sedan will be a little more expensive than the even cheaper hatch), and yet it offers more interior technology than any other car in the German brand’s line-up, debuting new stuff that is yet to appear anywhere else in the range.
|Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019: A200 EDITION 1|
|Engine Type||1.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The A-Class will arrive in the first half of 2019, and while pricing and specification are still being finalised, the recently updated hatch range does offer some concrete guidance.
Expect the A200 to arrive first, followed by an A180 and A250 to complete the regular range. A go-fast AMG A45 will follow, and Benz in Australia is considering an AMG A35, too. You’ll have noticed there are no diesels on the list - they won’t be landing in Oz. At least, not at this stage.
To put pricing into perspective, the new A200 hatch will set you back $47,200, and Benz suggests a price jump of around $2k for an equivalent sedan. So, while the numbers aren’t confirmed, we wouldn’t be expecting much change from $50k for the A200 sedan.
You can expect specification to mirror the hatch range, so for the first-arriving A200, expect 18-inch alloy wheels, auto-dipping LED headlights with LED DRLs, keyless entry and push-button start, navigation, climate-control air-conditioning and powered seats in the front.
The good news for Aussie buyers is that much of the best tech stuff will be included as standard on even the cheapest cars, including the twin digital displays (now touchscreens) that dominate the dash and a simplified version of Mercedes’ voice assistant (like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa). For out-of-the-car connected services, like restaurant advice or internet access, you’ll need to pay for a data plan with Mercedes, with prices still being finalised.
There’s a wireless-charging pad and an army of phone connection and charging points, but our favourite thing by far is the augmented-reality feature added to the navigation, which beams a live image of the road ahead of you onto the screen when you’re approaching a turn, complete with floating arrows to tell you exactly where you should be turning in real time.
The new A-Class hatch was the car that really sparked Mercedes’ youth-focused run of hits back in 2012, but while the family resemblance is immediately obvious, it’s clear this new sedan is a more mature, less complicated version of that car.
Up front, there’s that bulging snout and huge three-point star now attached to almost all Mercedes product. But from there, the design simplifies massively, with two simple bonnet creases running to the wing mirrors.
There’s some light flaring of the rear guards, largely featureless side panels, and a rear end that’s home to the twin exhaust pipes and some understated venting, but there’s nothing here that looks over-done.
Inside, the dash is layered with different shapes and textures (a refreshingly modern and new-feeling space in the often-predictable world of German premium interiors), but the space here is all about the technology, a point made clear by the fact there is not a single analogue dial or clock anywhere in the cabin. Instead, you get the twin-screen (both 10.25-inch displays) set-up, with the one on the left handling all your driving information, and the one on the right used for navigation and infotainment.
The air vents become a focal point, owing to the fact that they look like giant, gleaming jet turbines, and the thin strip of climate controls is about the only traditional feature in a cabin that's otherwise entirely digital.
Those dimensions translate to a pretty spacious interior in four of the five seats, and handy luggage space of 420 litres with the rear seats in place - which is more than the hatchback’s 370 litres
Some of the teller testers complained of limited knee room in the backseat, especially when sitting behind a tall passenger, but my 175cm frame was utterly unfazed, with enough leg and headroom to keep me quiet, even on longer trips.
As always, the middle seat in the back might as well be painted on, with limited leg and shoulder room for adults, but it’ll do the job just fine for kids. The better option, though, is to deploy the seat divider, which unlocks two bonus cupholders (there are two for front-seat riders, too).
There’s room for the world’s smallest bottles in the rear doors, although the fronts get bigger pockets, and there are a total of five micro-USB charge points scattered throughout the cabin.
The ISOFIX count is two, one in each window seat in the back.
While the A200 wasn’t available at the sedan’s launch, expect the outputs to exactly match the hatch. So a newly downsized turbocharged 1.3-litre engine producing 120kW and 250Nm will be wedged under the bonnet.
It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and powers the front wheels (4MATIC all-wheel drive is available on the A250), and in sedan guise, will deliver an 8.1sec sprint to 100km/h, on its way to a 230km/h top speed. That’s sightly (as in 0.1sec) slower than the hatch, but you’re unlikely to ever notice.
Benz puts the A200 sedan’s official combined fuel consumption figure at 5.4L/100km, with emissions pegged at 124g/km. The sedan’s 43-litre fuel tank, then, will provide a theoretical range of around 800kms.
The Mercedes A-Class sedan is the kind of car that, when you spot one of those telltale squiggles on the navigation screen, your shoulders slump slightly and that little voice in your head asks why on Earth you didn’t just spring for an AMG version.
The line-up’s biggest seller will be powered by a mere 1.3-litre engine, after all. Plus the suspension is fixed and tuned for comfort rather than an adaptive set-up, and there's no booming exhaust or trick LSD either.
And so it comes as hugely pleasant surprise when the sedan we’re piloting hunkers down on twisting tarmac, sitting ruler-flat through corners and showing a real willingness to be pushed and pushed.
Selecting Sport adds a little weight to the steering and tweaks the ESP settings, and left our test car feeling surprisingly agile through the corners, its Pirelli tyres clinging to the tarmac without so much as a squeak or squeal.
Only the A220 was available at launch, which is not an engine we’re getting in Australia. So it acted as a guide more than an exact test. Still, it proved to be a handy little unit, happy to hum along at 120km/h on the freeway, and serving up ample, if not sports car-like, power.
The seven-speed gearbox goes about its business largely imperceptibly (despite a tendency to feel awkward in lower gears when first setting off), and the ride was impressive, too, soaking up lumps and bumps commendably, although they are more noticeable in the back seats.
But the real party trick is the cabin tech. And I don’t think you’ll get sick of showing off the “Hey Mercedes” functions in a hurry.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Neither the new hatch or sedan has been crash tested here or in Europe yet, but the safety list is strong enough to tip a five-star score when it is. Until then, Benz will lean on the five-star rating of the outgoing model.
Think nine airbags and the usual suite of braking and traction aids, joined by high-tech stuff like AEB, lane-keep assist, cross-wind assist and blind-spot monitoring, a reversing camera and active park assist.
The A-Class sedan will be covered by Mercedes-Benz’s three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with service intervals pegged at 12 months or 25,000km.
Like the A-Class hatch, Mercedes does offer capped-price servicing, with the pricing capped at $496, and $992 for the first three annual services.
Sedans are hardly the “in” body style of the moment, but one peek at the ludicrous looks parading down any runway show proves that being in fashion doesn't make something good. If you're after a slightly more mature-looking A-Class that's swimming in tell-your-mates features, take the new sedan for a spin.
|A180||1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$38,700||2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019 A180 Pricing and Specs|
|A250 4MATIC||2.0L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO||$49,500||2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019 A250 4MATIC Pricing and Specs|
|A250 4MATIC AMG LINE||2.0L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO||$54,800||2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019 A250 4MATIC AMG LINE Pricing and Specs|
|A250 4MATIC LIMITED EDITION||2.0L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO||$49,500||2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019 A250 4MATIC LIMITED EDITION Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|