The new 2018 Mercedes A-class is here and it seems to have grown up. New shape, new engines, new interior… we could go on. It still looks roughly like an A-class, though, doesn’t it? Albeit one that’s been heavily buffed and sanded to get rid of all those pesky creases – and it looks all the better for it. Mini-CLS, anyone?
The previous-gen A-class was a huge seller for Merc across Europe and was the brand’s biggest seller in the UK in 2017, with 70% of UK orders being in sporty AMG Line trim. We’ll have to see if the new one can live up to that same level of success. Here’s everything we know on 2018’s new premium hatch…
Orders begin from early March 2018 for A 180 d and A 200 models, with more engines and trims joining the range later on. Expect prices to kick off from around £25,000 until the cheaper manual gearbox cars arrive.
Gone are the underpowered petrol and clattery types of diesel of the old A. The engine range is all-new, launching with a brand-new 1.4-litre turbo petrol and a heavily revised 1.5-litre diesel.
First off is the A200, which uses a 161bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol co-developed with the Renault-Nissan alliance under the M282 codename. You can have it with seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box or a six-speed manual that arrives later in the year and is capable of an 8.0sec 0-62mph launch when fitted with the former.
The punchier A250 petrol is a DCT-only model with a 221bhp 2.0-litre petrol, while the only diesel option, for now, is the A180d (also DCT-only) with a 114bhp 1.5-litre oil -burner capable of 68.8mpg.
Engine 1.4-litre turbo petrol, 161bhp, 184lb ft
Performance 8.0sec 0-62mph (DCT), 8.2sec (manual), 140mph top speed
Economy 55.3mpg (DCT), 50.4mpg (manual), 120g/km CO2 (DCT), 133g/km (manual)
Engine 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 221bhp, 258lb ft
Performance 6.2sec 0-62mph, 155mph
Economy 47mpg, 141g/km CO2
Engine 1.5-litre turbodiesel, 114bhp, 192lb ft
Performance 10.5sec 0-62mph, 125mph
Economy 68.8mpg, 180g/km CO2
Fancy something hotter? You’ll have to wait for now, but two AMG-fettled A-class versions are coming – an A35 and an A45. We revealed earlier in 2018 that the A35 would have around 300bhp – enough to worry a Golf R – and use Mercedes’ new EQ boost mild hybrid tech first seen in the new CLS and E-class 53 models. The all-guns-blazing A45 mega hatch is expected to produce more than 400bhp and tipped for a 2019 launch.
The inside of the entry-level Benz resembles that of an S-class more than ever, with additional tech, greater space and a far more premium feel. Mercedes is making bold claims about the tech on board, and it’s the car’s biggest, most appealing feature to mark it out against its rivals.
The cabin in top-spec models is dominated by two large 10.25-inch screens that sit in line with the divide between the dashboard’s two horizontal sections. Gone is the rotary knob controlling the central infotainment display, instead replaced by a large touchpad and leather pad for the operator’s wrist.
Even the steering wheel has been lifted from an S-class, featuring the same design and button arrangement of Merc’s most expensive limousine.
Mercedes isn’t wrong about the levels of luxury on offer – for a car that will be the cheapest in the manufacturer’s range, the 2018 A-class feels every inch the premium hatch when we jumped behind the wheel at the car’s official unveiling. There’s a nice variety of plush materials, and a genuine wow factor when you get inside.
The materials, technology, and attention to detail were all up to the standards you’d expect from a premium saloon. Wood brushed metals and soft-touch plastics fill the cabin, as does the ambient lighting available in a veritable rainbow of 64 different colour shades. Shrinking violets need not apply.
Previously controlled by dated rotary switches, the climate control now operates via horizontal rocker switches with changes in temperature reflected on the central infotainment screen. A choice of seats is available, with top-level cars benefitting from heated and cool massaging chairs.
An increased wheelbase of 30mm means more room inside, too, which is even better news for young families. It’s still a low car to get in and out of, but the larger rear doors make a big difference, and we didn’t struggle for space behind an average-height adult on the first inspection. The boot is noticeably bigger too, and access is much easier thanks to a wider tailgate and lower sill.
Mercedes says there are four trim levels available for the new A-class, but they may or may not all make it across to the UK market. For now, the trims we know are standard include SE, Sport and AMG Line. The car’s available to order from March, when full prices and specs will be revealed.
All A-class models have automatic air-con, MBUX infotainment system with two separate seven-inch screens, automatic headlights, and wipers, keyless go and Merc’s Dynamic Select drive mode system.
Both SE and Sport models have their own design tweaks and feature comfortable seats instead of sports ones, but AMG Line will be the biggest seller over here, seen here in white in our picture gallery above.
For the first year after the launch, an Edition 1 trim is also available that dolls up your new A with yellow detailing and… not a lot else. AMG Line cars get their own specific body kit, 18-inch AMG alloys, lowered suspension and sportier detailing inside. An optional Night Package throws in a load of fresh black bits, as well as the usual choice of Premium and Premium Plus packages to boost the kit count significantly.
The new infotainment system in the A-class is called MBUX, and seems to be heavily focused on a touch-sensitive operation. The A-class will, therefore, have a touchscreen, a touchpad on the centre console, and there’ll also be touch-control buttons on the steering wheel, too. According to Mercedes, this should help with less driver distraction.
The huge free-standing infotainment screen is used to great effect, with incredibly crisp graphics and a very user-friendly interface. The choice of methods of swiping and scrolling helps here, as does the high-res screen and sharp graphics.
The instrument cluster, on the other hand, will be used to show Assistance, Journey or Navigation information.
In order to minimise distraction, the new A-class will also feature a more intelligent voice control system, which Mercedes says will be capable of accepting more conversational requests. All you need to do is say ‘Hey Mercedes’ and it’ll talk back to you like Alexa in your home. On the first try, it’s an intuitive system that also learns your habits and comes up with suggestions for your journey.
Mercedes says it’ll update its Mercedes ME app ecosystem, and add more scope for personalisation in the new A-class interior. New machine learning abilities also mean the new A-class will predictively suggest activities or tasks depending on what time of the day or week it is. For example, if you usually go to the gym after work, the A-class’s sat-nav will automatically suggest it as a destination when you finish work.