The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has changed its identity considerably since it arrived in 1997. In 2012 it switched from tall, MPV to a more streamlined hatchback. 2018 brought us an all-new version of the hatch and the 2019 model year adds a revised range of engine outputs along with the new range-topping Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC performance specification. Also new this year are two premium options packs.
Casting just a casual glance, the new A-Class isn’t too dissimilar in profile to the previous generation, yet when compared side-by-side it’s clear the changes are in fact quite significant.
The new A-Class appears lower and sleeker, having lost the rising shoulder line and ‘kick’ contour on the rear doors. The nose is lower and the overall look far less fussy. The rear loses the small, meeker light clusters in favour of large, bolder LED units. Yet despite the more slender appearance, it is the same width and height as the outgoing model, and a mere 7mm longer.
Interior and technology
The new interior is where much of the car’s evolution has taken place. It certainly feels more roomy and materials and finish are good. The facia is neatly-designed and utterly modern with the two large screens comprising the digital cockpit.
Technology is big with the new A-Class. It includes Car-to-X Communication where information can be transmitted vehicle to vehicle. Examples include emergency braking, ESP intervention and accidents. Vehicle Tracking makes it easier to find your parked car, as well as messaging if it has been bumped or towed away. The new A-Class also boasts Augmented Reality Navigation, which overlays arrows on a real-time forward view of the road.
Engines and trim
The range of power units has been expanded with A180, A200, A220 and A250 petrol engines (providing 136, 163, 190 and 224hp outputs). A180d, A200d and A220d make up the diesels (with 109, 150 and 190hp respectively).
Trim levels are the familiar SE, Sport and AMG Line, all of which have respectable amounts of kit. Even the entry SE includes parking camera, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, phone mirroring and a DAB radio.
Models have been available since launch with the optional Executive equipment line which adds the Mirror package, 10.25-inch media display, heated front seats plus Active Parking Assist. Recently added are Premium and Premium Plus, available on Sport and AMG Line trims. Premium brings desirable items such as keyless entry, ambient lighting and upgraded sound system; in addition, Premium Plus adds memory seats, adaptive LED headlamps and a panoramic glass roof.
On the move, the lower-powered diesel on test is certainly swift enough and economy is extremely good. The engine note is a little gruff yet it is refined in terms of noise levels and vibration. The seven-speed automatic gearbox does its job with little fuss in Comfort mode and comes to life when switched to Sport. The steering weights-up in Sport mode too, adding a noticeably more dynamic feel.
Ride-wise, the firmness of the previous generation model is retained, positioning the A-Class toward the sporty end of the spectrum.
Overall, the evolved styling of the new A-Class is subtle and smart. There is a good spread of engines to suit most demands and it is pumped full of useful technology. For those after a slightly different shape, the distinctive CLA saloon derivative will be available soon.