New A-Class previews small-car focus for Mercedes-Benz

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Mercedes-Benz is to extend its small car line-up to eight model lines, likely to include an A-Class saloon and an electric vehicle, as it focuses on broadening its appeal and finding a younger customer base.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The new A-Class hatchback replaces a model which has been particularly successful for introducing the brand to new customers. In Europe, 60% of A-Class customers are conquests from other brands, and the average age is 10 years younger than it was for the MPV-shaped previous version.

It’s also one of five model lines on the compact car platform, alongside the B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA, collectively accounting for 620,000 units, or over a quarter of the brand’s global volume, during 2017.

Mercedes-Benz said this small car family will soon grow to eight models, hinting that the Concept A Sedan could preview a three-box A-Class to rival the A3 – particularly important in North America – while the Concept EQA shows how the brand’s electric vehicle sub-family could become part of the line-up too.

The new A-Class shows what to expect from them; it gets the latest driver assistance technologies from the E-Class and S-Class, an optional all-digital floating instrument and infotainment display, more intuitive voice controls and connected navigation which can receive live data from other vehicles’ on-board sensors.

Mercedes-Benz has also responded to customer feedback from the old car, with visibility improvements, a larger-capacity boot accessed via a wider tailgate opening, and new comfort suspension fitted as standard to improve ride quality.

From launch, the A-Class will be available with a new 163hp 1.4-litre petrol engine with cylinder shut-off (5.1l/100km, 120g/km), and a upgraded 116hp 1.5-litre diesel (4.1l/100km, 108g/km), now featuring selective catalytic reduction, both of which feature seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions. Other engine and transmission options, including four-wheel drive, will be available later in the year.

Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: “The A-Class has been a big driver of change at Mercedes-Benz. It is the single best example on how we managed to rejuvenate our entire brand. There’s not much of an ‘entry-level’ feel left in our new entry-level car.”

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.