Mercedes has started testing the next-generation A-class’ autonomous functions. The car is set to get driverless technology from the S-class, as hinted to our sister publication Autocar UK by Mercedes sales boss Britta Seeger earlier this year, giving it the potential to reach Level 2 autonomy.
The new autonomous technology will enable the future BMW 1-series rival to steer and brake itself up to certain speeds. It'll do this by using systems that are part of the car's lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control technology.
Previous sightings have shown that the car’s design will take influence from the Concept A, with slimmer headlights and wider front grille for a more aggressive appearance, as well as a longer wheelbase and higher roofline to improve practicality.
Sources say the interior will feature plusher materials and Mercedes’ latest infotainment system as well, with top-spec models likely to get a widescreen display integrated more cleanly into the dashboard than in the current A-class. The fit and finish of the interior will also be improved, with strong competition from Audi, with its virtual cockpit dashboard layout.
The 2018 model year A-class will gain a new plug-in petrol-hybrid drivetrain to offer a pure-electric driving range of around 50km. The plug-in model will come as part of Mercedes’ push for a larger, electrified range, which currently only features electric versions of its B-class and Smart models, but will soon gain an SUV, as seen testing earlier this year. An updated line-up of turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will power the range, improving performance and reducing emissions compared to the current car.
At the top end of the line-up, the range-topping AMG A45 version of the new A-class hatchback is expected to produce close to 406hp – 24hp more than today's AMG. The car will rival the likes of the next Audi RS3.
As previewed by the Concept A, the A-class will eventually gain a sedan version that will rival the Audi A3 and BMW 2-series sedans. Alongside standard front-wheel drive, the A-class sedan will be engineered to support Mercedes’ multi-plate clutch 4Matic four-wheel drive system in combination with most engines.