An entry-level automobile in a luxurious automaker’s lineup ought to supply a stable mix of all the pieces the corporate has to supply in a smaller, extra inexpensive package deal. A purchaser’s first expertise with a model ought to persuade them to stay round as time goes on, and as promotions and pay raises pop up.

By that commonplace, the outgoing Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class was rubbish. Whereas the worth was proper, its coupe-like roof made the rear seats uncomfortable for grown adults, and low-quality inside supplies punctuated its ho-hum design. It wasn’t a product that made you wish to stick round.

That each one adjustments with the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Whereas there’s a new CLA-Class on the best way, the A-Class now stands because the least costly solution to slide into a brand new Merc, and it rocks. Contemplate the bar raised for everybody.

A looker in and out

Once I first noticed Mercedes-Benz’s new design language on the CLS-Class, I wasn’t precisely offered on it. Now that I see the A-Class Sedan, although, I get it. On this occasion, the design is nicely proportioned — the headlights and grille aren’t cartoonishly giant or small, and the silhouette guarantees extra space than the cramped CLA-Class ever provided. Even the trunk is suitably sized for a household’s value of groceries or sufficient wreaths to make a two-story residence sufficiently festive.

My A-Class Sedan has a little bit additional anger due to the $2,600 AMG Line styling package deal, which provides sharper angles within the bumpers, a barely decrease suspension and the gorgeous diamond-block grille. The 19-inch AMG wheels are an additional $500. Contemplate this an early warning concerning the A-Class’ worth: It might begin low, however if you wish to get fancy, issues are going to get costly in a rush. Hell, my tester’s shade of silver (silver!) prices $720.

Whereas the outgoing CLA-Class used a powerful number of low-quality supplies inside, the A-Class appears and feels twice as costly. The dashboard makes intelligent use of layering, in order that the “floating” screens up entrance do not look tacked on. The one unhealthy plastics that I can discover are situated in locations regular individuals would by no means contact, like the underside of the transmission tunnel. Every little thing else, from the door’s switchgear to the dashboard, feels dearer than the worth belies. I am not the most important fan of piano black trim, which attracts fingerprints like sugar attracts ants, however it nonetheless appears premium.

The seats are a lot supportive, however I like to recommend ditching the $1,450(!) purple leather-based, which is a little bit racy for a non-performance automobile. Visibility from these seats can be wonderful, with loads of rearward sightlines via the aft glass (one thing the CLA-Class lacked in spades) and barely-there blind spots. The rear seats supply leagues extra headroom than the CLA-Class, and there is enough legroom for a six-foot-tall passenger to really feel snug behind a six-foot-tall driver.

For an additional $310, the A-Class might be outfitted with a 64-color ambient lighting system, and it is some of the spectacular I’ve ever used. Along with letting me set my shade from a spectrum wheel, the system additionally gives predetermined animated shade schemes that move via a number of colours. It is going to be the very first thing each passenger talks about, assured. For as a lot wow issue because it provides, the worth is correct.

Enjoyable to drive, however not the thriftiest

The A220 does not have the strongest motor, however it undoubtedly makes probably the most of it. My tester’s 2.Zero-liter turbocharged I4 places out 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, despatched to all 4 wheels by the use of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (front-wheel drive is on the market, too). All that torque makes for sturdy begins, and whereas the transmission’s low-speed antics generally is a little on the clunky facet, shifts at velocity are a lot clean. When it comes time to speed up, decrease gears are known as up with haste.

There are drive modes on supply, however I discover them pointless. The automobile is finest left in its commonplace Consolation mode, which gives the correct of throttle sensitivity and shift efficiency. Eco short-shifts an excessive amount of for my tastes, and Sport takes issues too far in the other way. There are shift paddles behind the wheel, however these are most likely finest left for no matter hardcore AMG variant arrives later. The steering is the correct of tight, and the AMG Line package deal’s brakes are grippy, however the pedal is not so delicate that heads will bob at each purple gentle.

Do not let the massive wheels and skinny tires mislead you — the experience remains to be a lot snug.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Issues are equally peachy on the dealing with entrance. The experience consists, however not overly uncomfortable, even with my tester’s 19-inch wheels and skinny 225/40R19-series Pirelli Sottozero winter tires. It feels fairly darn near my Volkswagen Golf, truly. It does not really feel as bouncy as editor Steven Ewing recommended in his first drive, however I additionally do not have expertise with a front-wheel-drive variant for comparability functions, so I counsel take a look at driving each when you’re on the seller.   

A few of that shine disappears on the economic system entrance, although. Whereas the stop-start system did not shake the cabin with each restart (some weren’t felt in any respect), my tester’s AWD format seemingly ate into gas economic system a bit. In accordance with the journey laptop, I averaged about 22 miles per gallon within the metropolis and just below 30 mpg on the freeway. That is a far cry from the CLA-Class’ EPA-estimated 24 mpg metropolis and 32 freeway with all-wheel drive (24 metropolis, 37 freeway with FWD). The EPA hasn’t printed figures for the A-Class Sedan as of this writing, however hopefully it will be a little bit greater than what I am experiencing.

Tech overload

The A-Class is not simply tech-forward, it is some of the technologically superior Mercedes-Benz autos throughout the lineup. In at the moment’s world of subscription providers and sensible houses, Mercedes has a successful technique on its palms — youthful patrons like tech, and it is all accessible on its most inexpensive car.

Base fashions make do with two 7-inch screens on the dashboard, however I consider the pair of 10.25-inch screens are rattling close to obligatory, despite the fact that they’re a part of the $2,100 Premium Bundle. The instrument cluster gives unbelievable selection, letting me swap out every gauge for various data screens whereas displaying the navigation map within the center. All that’s adjusted via the touchpad on the left facet of the steering wheel, a system that is devilishly simple to grasp with minimal distraction.

Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX (say every letter, do not name it “M-Bucks”) infotainment system is a beaut. It takes all of the capabilities of the outdated COMAND system and provides it a prettier, extra responsive wrapper whereas throwing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the combo. The display is lastly touch-capable, so you may ignore the middle console’s touchpad if it isn’t your velocity, however it can be manipulated utilizing the second thumbpad on the correct facet of the steering wheel. For those who do use the touchscreen, hold a lens fabric available to maintain the display freed from ugly finger grease.

For those who don’t love your map between the gauges, you may substitute the tachometer with a map, too, leaving the center open to show different data.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

MBUX additionally packs a brand new voice-recognition system. A easy “Hey, Mercedes” will trigger the system to spring to life, accepting pure voice instructions (for instance, “I am chilly.”) and translating them to actions (elevating the local weather management temperature). I do not discover the call-and-response system as delicate as Ewing did on his first drive. In actual fact, it solely appears to select up my requests when the car is stationary — manually activating the assistant from the steering wheel, on the opposite palms, works on a regular basis for me.

MBUX’s newfangled tech will get even wilder with the $1,150 Multimedia Bundle. Along with enabling embedded navigation, it additionally contains an augmented-reality system that overlays translucent navigation instructions over a real-time view from the entrance digicam. It is neat to look at, and fortunately it does not take over the display at freeway speeds, however I’ve considerations about its distraction potential when it engages at regular street speeds. It nonetheless appears neat, although.

Whereas computerized braking is commonplace, the entire complement of lively and passive driver aids is hidden behind a $2,250 Driver Help Bundle. It provides issues like full-speed adaptive cruise management, blind spot monitoring and steering help on the freeway, all of which work effortlessly. It additionally has route-based velocity adaptation, which I solely discover irritating. Although I believe it is off, it nonetheless slows my car greater than 5 mph round curves on the freeway, which isn’t the type of habits I need from a automobile within the left lane (or any lane, actually).

How I would spec it

As of this writing, Mercedes-Benz has not but enabled its on-line configurator or introduced costs. For the sake of this part, I will assume the beginning worth is $35,000 for a front-wheel-drive A220, and I will solely embrace packages for which I do know the costs. AWD is a $2,000 possibility on the C-Class, however it’s unclear how a lot it will add to the A-Class Sedan’s backside line.

I will ditch my tester’s $750 Iridium Silver paint and its $1,450 purple leather-based seats, however I will hold the $325 pure wooden trim, since I prefer it. I will maintain onto the $2,100 Premium Bundle for the bigger screens, the $310 ambient lighting system and the $200 Qi wi-fi gadget charger. I will additionally hold the $1,090 possibility that provides a surround-view digicam system and the aforementioned $1,150 Multimedia Bundle for navigation.

So what did I ditch from my tester’s spec? On prime of the inside aesthetics, I am omitting the $500 AMG wheels, $280 for a storage door opener, $900 for adaptive headlights, $2,600 for the AMG styling package deal, $460 for satellite tv for pc radio, $850 for the Burmester audio system and $2,250 for the additional driver assists.

Assuming that $35,000 base worth (plus a $2,000 AWD upcharge), my tester is available in at an eye-watering $52,660, together with $975 in vacation spot prices. My private spec, then again, is far more palatable at $41,150 together with vacation spot, and it has virtually all of the whiz-bang gadgetry of my tester.

Right down to brass tacks

With a brand new CLA-Class on the horizon, which is able to undoubtedly pack each single replace mentioned and lauded on this overview, Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level choices will quickly be second to none. The Audi A3 each appears and feels much less thrilling than the Benz. BMW does not actually have a similar mannequin, however Acura does supply the compact ILX as a competitor — that mentioned, the ILX does not look or really feel nearly as good because the A220 does.

It is arduous to not place the A-Class Sedan on the prime of its section, despite the fact that it isn’t even on sale but. It comes out of its gates swinging, providing a number of the most superior tech in its section — albeit at a worth level that varies from “affordable-ish” to “why did not you simply purchase the C-Class?” For those who can abdomen the window sticker, the A-Class Sedan is considered one of, if not one of the simplest ways to dip your toes into the luxury-vehicle pool.

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