New Mercedes A-Class is way cooler
With its sporty design and conventional layout that ditches the previous top-heavy but space-efficient 'sandwich floor' design, the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a big departure from its predecessors.
Described as a clean-sheet design, Merc's latest baby is said to be completely new, right down to the last detail. Expect to see it in South Africa from around April next year.
18cm lower to the ground and featuring generously sculpted lines, the new design aims to make it something of a hit among a more youthful audience - and there will even be a performance version right from the start.
The petrol engine range consists of direct injection, turbocharged 1.6- and 2-litre versions, the flagship-for-now being a GTI-rivalling 155kW A250. Below that, buyers can also opt for a 115kW A 200 or 90kW A 180.
On the turbodiesel front you'll find an 80kW/250Nm A 180 CDI, 100kW/300Nm A 200 CDI and 125kW/350Nm A 220 CDI. The greenest model emits just 99g/km of CO2 on the combined cycle. All engines offer an idle-stop system as standard and can be mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It may be front-wheel drive (Mercedes has hinted that all-wheel drive versions are also on the way - a definite for the AMG version), but engineers seem to have put considerable effort into the chassis, most notably with a new four-link rear suspension system.
Various suspension settings will be on offer, among them an optional sports suspension with Direct Steer.
THE AMG TOUCH
In fact, the A 250 and A 220 CDI Sport models boast an AMG-developed front axle and sportier suspension set-up - this in addition to AMG-designed 18-inch alloy wheels and various exterior and cabin styling changes - including a one-slat honeycomb grille as on the car in the picture (other models have two slats).
The A Class will also be offered in 'Urban' and 'Sport' trims, which can be further individualised with a wide range of options.
If the new baby doesn't sound appealing enough already, Mercedes-Benz rambles on about the high-quality materials used in the cabin and the fact that it has an option that allows a smartphone to be fully integrated into the operating and display system. A special app makes it possible to use the full functionality of the iPhone, and this will soon extend to other smartphones.
The electronic revolution extends to safety too, where the A Class offers Merc's radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist as standard. This gizmo identifies potential hazards ahead and then warns the driver and prepares the braking system for an anchor-slamming episode.
The Pre-Safe preventive occupant protection system is also available for the first time in an A-Class, while items like Attention Assist and Brake Hold are standard.