Just when we thought Mercedes-Benz had every imaginable market segment well covered, along comes an all-new model that makes a welcome debut in the compact luxury class.
It’s the new A-Class and it fits into the entry-level slot in the extensive Mercedes-Benz lineup. There’s been an A-Class in the German automaker’s range for many years, but the product has never been sold in North America. With the worldwide introduction of an all-new model it was felt the time was ripe to introduce the cars to North America.
The car will be available in two body styles – hatchback and sedan. The hatchback is certainly the more practical of the two, but many buyers, especially in the luxury class, still prefer a trunk. It’s good news for buyers contemplating a compact luxury model that they have two choices.
The A-Class will compete against rivals like the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Lexus CT series. Both hatchback and sedan will arrive later this year and the price will be lower than that of the B-Class models, which start at around $39,000 MSRP. As an option, Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive will be available for both models.
The hatchback is sleek and sporty while the sedan looks rather like a scaled-down C-Class. Both the cars have the now-familiar ‘sports car’ mesh grille with a big Mercedes three-pointed star at the centre. Both models use Mercedes’ 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Personal experience with this engine over a fairly long period of time has confirmed that it’s very peppy and surprisingly economical. A few years back, you’d have to specify a V-6 powerplant to get the kind of refinement and response delivered by this compact 4-cylinder. There’s no word yet whether or not we’ll be getting an AMG version of this car, but it must be a possibility, given that the majority of Mercedes-Benz models have this option.
The interior is very much a twin for other models from this automaker, even those with far heftier sticker prices. It brings a new level of luxury to this class of car and as with all Mercedes-Benz interiors, the quality is second to none and the cabin should look much the same many years from now if it’s reasonably well looked after. It’s not hard to find Mercedes models 20 years old that still look almost new inside. It’s all about materials choices and assembly quality.
The A-Class is a welcome addition to the Mercedes-Benz model range and the company should be commended for marketing so many products for such a wide variety of customer needs. Few rivals can match the “something for everybody” Mercedes-Benz model lineup and this is a notable achievement for a luxury vehicle manufacturer.
SPECS AT A GLANCE...
BODY STYLE: 4-door hatchback/4-door sedan
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo 4-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx 7-secs.
FUEL ECONOMY: 5.4-litres/100 km city; 4.1-litres/100 km hwy.
PRICE: Not yet announced but possibly in the $35,000 range