Mercedes-Benz has announced that the new A-class will debut at the 2018 Geneva motor show in March. Development of the BMW 1-series and Audi A3 rival has entered the final stages.
The new A-class will be 10mm longer than its predecessor and adopt a new floorpan and body structure, which is expected to significantly improve rigidity and refinement.
The increase in length is solely due to the increase in the hatchback’s wheelbase, meant to provide more interior space and the potential to install larger rear doors for better ingress and egress. The new A-class will also feature a boot that is larger than the current model’s 341 litres.
It will be built on a revamped MFA (modular front architecture) platform with MacPherson-struts at the front and a multi-link rear suspension. Mercedes’ Drive Select function, which allows the driver to change the characteristics of the steering, engine, transmission and suspension damping, will also feature.
The larger insides on the hatchback will sport a new a new dashboard featuring higher-grade materials, digital instrumentation and a new touchscreen Comand 5 infotainment system. The cabin will also have a new steering with touchpad controls, new sports seats and a bevy of new driver assistance systems - such as Mercedes’ Level 2 autonomous driving functions – that havbe filtered down from the flagship S-class.
Our sister publication Autocar UK, when speaking to Mercedes sales boss Britta Seeger, confirmed that the new tech will allow the A-class to steer and brake itself up to certain speeds, working in tandem with the car's lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control technology
The new A-class will be the first of eight new smaller models from the German brand. Other models include a replacement for the current B-class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA. The big news is that the platform will spawn more new models including an A-class sedan (pictured in concept form above) with a range-topping 400hp A45 variant, a GLB and a potential seven-seater GLB.
All these models based on the MFA platform will share a range of new four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, all of which will boast better economy and emissions than today’s motors.
The entry-level models will be powered by the new M282 petrol engine in a 1.4-litre guise that has been co-developed with Renault. Mid-spec models will get the M260 petrol engine in various states of tune, which has been developed in 1.6-litre and 2.0-litres guises. The range-topping version of the M260 motor will feature a belt-driven generator capable of operating as a mild hybrid, with electrically assisted boosting and step-off in combination with a 48V electrical system.
The diesel engines for the A-class and the rest of the MFA-based models will use the manufacturer’s latest 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine in up to three states of tune, the OM654.
A plug-in hybrid rival to the Golf GTE has also been planned, though specifics are unknown. It is expected to be powered by the entry-level M282 petrol engine combined with an electric motor mounted within the forward section of Mercedes’ new nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. The hybrid powertrain is also expected to feature on the EQ sub-brand’s models.
Sources suggest that the new A-class hybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack will be able to go up to 50km on electric power only.
The engines on the A-class will be mated to retuned versions of the current six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions, though some top-spec trims will also get a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic unit. While power will be sent to the front wheels on standard models, Mercedes’ all-whell-drive system, 4Matic, will feature on the higher trim levels.
There is no word on when the new A-class will arrive in India.
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