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 Leisure

The all-new 4th generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class

24th February, 2018

By ASWAN YAP

Back in the 1970s, no one would have imagined Mercedes-Benz producing small cars. In the 1980s, the company introduced a ‘small’ sedan – today known as the C-Class – and that seemed to be as small as the German cars would go. But in the years that followed, Mercedes-Benz found that its traditional customers were diminishing in number and their children didn’t necessarily find the image of the cars with the 3-Pointed Star appealing.

There was a sense of being ‘old’ as compared to the more sporty BMW and Audi products and so Mercedes-Benz made a critical strategic decision that would make its products more appealing to the younger generation. This decision included the development of a new range of cars that, appropriately, came to be designated the ‘A-Class’.

The first generation of the A-Class was launched in 1997 and since then, two more generations have followed, each building on the success of its predecessor. Now comes the fourth generation and while the new car remains youthful and dynamic, it has also matured in character.

Technologically the new A-Class not only takes first place, thanks to MBUX (the Mercedes-Benz User Experience) but it also offers a number of functions that were previously the preserve of the luxury class.

“With the fourth generation of the A-Class, we are redefining modern luxury in the compact class, declared Britta Seeger, the member of the Daimler AG Board of Management responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars sales.

“New technologies must place the focus on people and make their lives easier. The new A-Class does this in many ways, and becomes an emotional and intelligent companion,” added Ola Kallenius, the member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars. “One good example is MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience: it combines intuitive and natural operation with intelligent, learning software.”

The purist, surface-accentuating design of the new A-Class is the next step in the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of Sensual Purity. On the basis of a compact two-box design, optimised dimensions and proportions have led to a new interpretation of the new model’s design.

The exterior stands for sportiness, dynamism and emotion. The progressive front design with a low bonnet, flat LED headlamps with chrome elements and torch-like daytime driving lamps ensures an emotionally appealing and alluring appearance.

The striking radiator grille with the Mercedes star, whose silhouette opens out towards the base as a reinterpretation of its predecessor, features pins in a diamond look and a central silver louvre to underline the sportiness of this model.

The profile is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character line along the side. The bonnet slopes down more heavily than in the preceding model series, emphasising the dynamic, upright front.

The larger wheel arches emphasise the sportiness of the new A-Class and make it sit more squarely on the road. It has a wider look at the rear end, thanks to a more heavily waisted greenhouse, which also emphasises the shoulders, and to the wider-spaced rear reflectors in the modular, two-section rear bumper.

The new A-Class also lays claim to being the aerodynamic leader in its segment. For the first time in the compact class, Mercedes-Benz uses a two-section AIRPANEL. This louvre system behind the radiator grille opens its adjustable louvres depending on the cooling requirement.

The interior is completely redefined with its modern, avant-garde look with a completely new approach, revolutionising the compact class from the inside with a new feeling of spaciousness. The unique interior architecture is shaped in particular by the avant-garde design of the dashboard: for the first time, a cowl above the cockpit has been completely dispensed with.

As a result, the wing-shaped main body of the dashboard extends from one front door to the other with no visual discontinuity. The Widescreen display is completely free-standing. The air vents in a sporty turbine-look are another highlight.

MBUX is the completely new multimedia system which also ushers in a new era in connectivity. A unique feature of this system is its ability to learn by using artificial intelligence. MBUX can be individualised and adapts to suit the user. It thus creates an emotional connection between the vehicle, driver and passengers.

No hybrid powertrain is mentioned but the A-Class will be available with petrol and diesel engines and 7G DCT dual-clutch transmissions. 4MATIC all-wheel drive will also be available as an option.

In virtually all markets where the A-Class is sold, including Malaysia, it has drawn a new generation of customers to the brand. With the new generation, that should continue to be the case. Customers in Europe will start getting their cars during the second quarter of 2018 and I am sure that we’ll see the new model in Malaysia before the end of the year as well.

   
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