Mercedes-Benz is whetting our appetite for the new, fourth-generation A-Class with the first official photos of the compact car’s cabin, released at an exclusive event in Germany, Wednesday night.
If the interior design looks familiar, that’s because the new A-Class draws heavily from the latest E-Class and to a lesser extent, the S-Class. It borrows the former’s dashboard layout with two high-tech, free-standing flat screens, five turbine-look air vents and simplified center console, and the S-Class’ multifunctional steering wheel.The highlight, of course, is the two screens that seem to be floating on top of the dashboard that’s divided by a ‘trench’. They will be available in three versions, depending on the model and equipment chosen. Base trims get two 7-inch (17.78 cm) screens, while higher level models either one 7-inch and one 10.25-inch (26 cm) or two 10.25-inch displays. The latter two variants use bonded glass technology for the screens.The first screen replaces the traditional instrument panel while the other is used to display, and in conjunction to the buttons on the center console and the touchpad, control the air-conditioning and infotainment systems.
The same interior will be used on all A-Class derivatives.
“Thanks to the visual separation of the lower section from the main body of the dashboard, the former appears to float in front of the dashboard,” says Hartmut Sinkwitz, Head of Interior Design. “At the same time, the A-Class is the first series-production model to dispense completely with a classic cockpit shroud. This literally places the large widescreen cockpit with its bonded glass technology in the forefront. Moreover, there is no longer a display in the A/C control panel, as the visual representation is exclusively via the central display.”
If you haven’t figured it out already, one of Mercedes’ main goals was to nudge the A-Class closer to its more luxurious siblings by offering buyers of its entry model the sense that they’re getting the same treats, but in a smaller, and more city-friendly, package.
To that extent, the Germans claim to have amplified the level of luxury by offering features and options more commonly found in higher segments. Two examples mentioned by Mercedes include the seats with climate control and massage functions, and the use of 64 LEDs for direct and indirect lighting to create a special and personalized ambience
On top of that, Benz says that the new A-Class will be more spacious for both passengers and their luggage. In particular, there’s more shoulder-room (front +9 mm, rear +22 mm), elbow-room (front +35 mm, rear +36 mm) and headroom (front +7 mm, rear +8 mm), while boot space has increased by 29 liters to 370 liters.
Furthermore, thanks to the two-section rear lights, the loading aperture is 200mm wider than before, and the luggage compartment floor is 115 mm longer. The rear seats have a 60/40 split as standard, while a rear seat backrest with a 40/20/40 split will be available.
Passengers will have more and bigger storage units inside, with the door panels now having enough space to hold 1.5-liter bottles or A4-sized magazines.
Mercedes also stated that the A-Class will offer much better visibility as the obscured area has been reduced by 10 percent compared to the current model. “This was principally achieved by specifically slimming down the A, B and C-pillars and their claddings. Improved visibility is also assured by positioning the exterior mirrors on the door outer panel rather than in the mirror triangle,” said the automaker.
The arrival of the five-door A-Class hatchback is scheduled for next year’s Geneva Motor Show in March, with European sales starting in the summer. It will be followed by a more conservative A-Class Sedan in both regular and long-wheelbase (likely for China) forms in the same year, while in 2019, we’ll see the replacements for the GLA crossover and the CLA in four-door sedan and possibly, shooting brake (estate) body styles.
All models will share the same underpinnings and powertrains that will include diesel, gasoline and 48V plug-in petrol-electric hybrid units. On the performance front, we’ll see a new A40 AMG model with a de-tuned 2.0-liter four producing around 300 horses, and a full-force A45 AMG with a newly developed 2.0L four banger churning out over 400 horses.