First test ride with new Mercedes A-Class: Next-gen baby Benz

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Mercedes will launch the new generation of the A-Class (W177) in early 2018. Mercedes gave us a look at the unmasked A-class from the inside at the beginning of November. Now auto motor und sport had a first test ride – here are their impressions.

Starting off from the previous-gen A-Class, there is much room for improvement in comfort, NVH, of course: The abbreviation stands for noise, vibration, harshness, so everything that could disturb the comfort impression, to some extent, but also for a certain driving feel is necessary. Christoph Meier, Head of NVH Body and Chassis Passenger Cars, added earlier in the acoustic laboratory: “A certain feedback on driving conditions and road should be there. The A-Class has been an emphatically active car so far, now it has to follow suit in comfort. ”

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As far as can be judged from the passenger seat, this development goal has been achieved. On the fairly undulating country roads in the Sindelfingen area, the landing gear gets along well with the various potholes, moves only slightly, only very subdued sounds penetrate the interior. A bit pothole hits the chassis of the camouflaged Mercedes A-Class like a left straight line, the 18-inch right front wheel puffs right in. But the spring-damper combination responds reliably and processes the impulse neatly. Matthias Stahl, Project Coordinator NVH for the A-Class Generation W177, is satisfied. “In comparison to the current model, we were able to optimize the connection to the bodywork, which minimizes vibrations,” explains the engineer.

The test car had the standard suspension without adaptive dampers. Alternatively, there will be a mechanical sports suspension and for an additional charge (previously € 1,238) adjustable dampers with two settings – comfort and sport. “In addition, the new rear axle is better,” adds Stahl. New rear axle? I agree. In the less powerful variants a torsion beam axle is used, in the other a four-link construction. This is also in the test car, under whose the hood works a four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, medium in the power range.

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The engine also holds back acoustically very much when the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission endeavors to push the speed level. Stahl emphasizes, however, that “a quiet engine alone does not work”. On the mixing of the noise sources it would be, the focus is on a harmonious overall experience. Nevertheless, he is pleased to have achieved one thing: “In the engine compartment we have an additional bulkhead, which otherwise only exists in higher vehicle segments. This minimizes noises. On our cross-country journey the engine sounds very cultured, but unfortunately, also not emotional.

Design-wise, the new A-Class is a significant development of the previous compact model with more narrow headlights, a narrower grill and a revised rear end. Fewer beads on the side of the sedan can be identified as well as the wide C-pillar. The third generation of the A-Class 2012 showed a revolutionary different exterior, inside the changes were harmless. For the new A-Class for 2018 Mercedes developed the exterior design compared to its predecessor only gently, but the interior of the new (fourth) generation has been completely rebuilt.

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A direct comparison of the current and future model, albeit in the virtual reality only, confirms the manufacturer’s claim. Especially forward, the A-Class now appears clearer. The seating position is similar to the previous one, so rather an idea too high, as is the case with compact models. For the seats themselves, Mercedes now offers a standard sports and comfort seat. The sports seats have the well-known, ergonomically questionable, integrated headrests, reinforced plastic side bolsters and an adjustable thigh support. The comfort seats come with conventional headrests and sufficient shaping of the backrest. For the first time an active seat ventilation can be ordered too.

Digital revolution: The interior of the new Mercedes A-Class

More space for passengers, larger trunk: the boot holds 370 liters, 29 liters more than before, the load compartment opening is 20 cm wider, the loading floor is 11.5 cm longer. Two crates should now fit in, a disassembled bike, two golf bags or a stroller. For a surcharge, the backrest of the back seat can be folded in the ratio 40/20/40. Room for the passengers? There is also more here: 35 mm more elbow width at the front, 36 mm in the rear. Nine millimeters more shoulder room at the front, 22 mm at the back. Seven millimeters more headspace in front, eight in the back. With the improved space available, the A-Class (W177) will increasingly attract customers from VW and other volume brands.

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New A-Class again with small engines from Renault
However, the drive is less spectacular than the interior. The smaller diesel units will also be supplied by cooperation partner Renault in the new generation. The two-liter diesels will be replaced by OM 654 units, as used in the new E-Class. For diesel engines, the A 180 d with the well-known 1.5-liter Renault engine will be launched initially. This will be followed in autumn 2018 by the two-liter diesel in the Mercedes A 200 d with 150 hp or in the A 220 d with 190 hp. Both can also be coupled with the four-wheel drive 4Matic.

The petrol range kick-off in April with the 160 hp 1.3-liter four-cylinder turbo from Renault in the A 200, followed in the fall be by the Mercedes A 180 also powered by the 1.3-liter with 136 hp and the A 220 as a plug-in hybrid with 13.7 kWh battery and around 70 kilometers of range. As the first power model Mercedes offers in the fall the AMG A35 with the two-liter four-cylinder turbo and a power of 299 hp. The model has a 48 volt on-board network with belt starter generator (RSG). Later the range will extend with the small A 160 with the 115 hp 1.3-liter Renault engine. Furthermore, an A 250 with two-liter four-cylinder, 48-volt electrical system and RSG and dual-clutch transmission and the AMG 45 4-Matic with 408 hp (48 V and RSG) from 2019.

2018 Mercedes A-Class: New hybrid variant with 50 km range

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The fourth generation A-Class has to work up the shortcomings of the previous model with new character. More clarity, a larger trunk opening and more volume (370 liters) and more space in the interior and especially in the rear are the goal. The steps in the exterior design remained modest, but inside the customer expects a new world, as the new A-Class will offer a level of luxury and technology that none of its few compact competitors can offer today. The new Mercedes A-Class will reach dealers in April 2018.