The line-up of compact cars from Mercedes-Benz continues to grow with this week’s launch of the A-Class in new Sedan and CLA derivatives in SA. They are based on the fourth-generation A-Class hatchback that was launched here late last year and was voted SA’s 2019 Car of the Year by the Guild of Motoring Journalists. The two new derivatives share the same wheelbase but the CLA is positioned as a four-door coupe with its more dynamic curves, and at 4,688mm it’s slightly longer than the 4,549mm A-Class Sedan, and also wider and lower.
Under a streamlined body that is said to have the lowest aerodynamic drag of all production vehicles, the boot capacity of 420l (a lot larger than the hatchback’s 370l) gives the new A-Class Sedan good family utility along with above-average shoulder, elbow and headroom.
The car is available in two variants — the A 200 and the A 250 Sport, with a diesel model expected here next year. The A 200 is powered by a turbocharged 1.33l petrol four-cylinder engine with outputs of 120kW and 250Nm.
A turbocharged 2l unit powers the A250 Sport and sends 165kW and 350Nm to the front wheels. Both version are paired with a 7G DCT dual-clutch transmission.
There is a choice of suspension systems for the A-Class, depending on engine variant and driver preference. The suspension with adjustable damping can be set to comfort or sport settings via the Dynamic Select controller in the centre console.
The AMG suspension is tuned for high cornering speeds with reduced body roll, and is lowered by 15mm.
Technology trickle-down taken from the flagship S-Class range enable the A-Class to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations, and include emergency brake assist, active cruise control and lane keeping assist.
It keeps a close eye on the traffic situation with camera and radar systems that see up to 500m ahead. Active Distance Assist Distronic as part of the optional Driving Assistance Package uses map and navigation data to automatically adjust the car’s speed when approaching bends or junctions.
The comprehensive safety suite is completed by seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. The optional multibeam LED headlamps are another example of the technology transfer from the luxury to the compact class. They allow extremely quick and precise, electronically controlled adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current traffic situation, with each headlamp featuring 18 individually actuated LEDs.
The technology inside the premium, compact hatchback brings science fiction to life with its hi-tech toys and artificial intelligence. The centrepiece of the modern cabin is a dashboard that dispenses with the traditional cowl to deliver a pair of digital displays available standard in 17.8cm size or optionally a pair widescreen 26cm displays.
The air vents in a sporty turbine look are another highlight, as is an optional ambient lighting system with a choice of 64 colours.
The MBUX Mercedes-Benz User Experience multimedia system can be accessed by touchpad, touchscreen, touch control buttons on the steering wheel, or through Voice Control using conversational language which is activated with the keyword “Hey Mercedes”. With its sloping coupe-style roof the CLA forgoes some headroom in favour of style, but it has more shoulder room than the Sedan and also a larger 460l boot.
Inside profile the CLA is sleeker and sportier than the stubbier-looking Sedan. The GT-style rear end has a distinctive “Coke bottle shoulder” while its more narrow tail lamps and the number plate housed low in the bumper enhance the width of the CLA. The car comes in two versions: the CLA 200 with the abovementioned 1.33l turbo petrol engine, and a CLA 220d with a gutsy 140kW/400Nm 2.0l turbo diesel supplying the grunt.
Both derivatives are paired with a dual-clutch auto transmission, but the petrol has seven speeds while the diesel has eight. The new CLA will also be available as an Edition 1 limited edition special model with numerous visual accents to underline its exclusivity.
The car comes with the same safety and infotainment tech as the Sedan, and the same choice of suspensions, at a price premium of R37,100 for the comparable baseline model.
A200 — R533,400
A250 Sport — R604,800
CLA 200 — R570,500
CLA 220d — R612,800
In other news –