Mercedes will take the wraps off the next A-class at the 2018 Geneva motor show in March. Said to be the most luxurious and technically advanced hatchback, the future BMW 1-series rival is in the final stages of its development.
Spy shots of the new hatchback show that it will be longer than the current model that is 4299mm long. Due to the tweaked MFA underpinnings, the added length is concentrated in the wheelbase, which will mean more space on the inside. The new A-class also has a new floorpan and body structure that Mercedes claims will improve rigidity, helping overall refinement. The new structure has also seen boot space increase compared to the current model’s 341 litres.
Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson-strut at the front and multi-link at the rear, which support Mercedes’ Drive Select function, allowing the driver to alter the characteristics of the steering, engine mapping, gearbox software and damping using at least four different modes.
The interiors sport a new-design dashboard featuring new digital instruments, a new Comand 5 touchscreen infotainment system, a new steering wheel with touchpad controls, new sport seats and a variety of new driver assistance systems. The driver assistance technology is part of Mercedes’ suite of Level 2 autonomous driving functions that were first showcased on the S-class.
Early in 2017, Mercedes sales boss Britta Seeger has hinted to our sister publication Autocar UK that the new tech will enable the upcoming A-class to steer and brake itself up to certain speeds, using systems that are part of the car's lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control technology.
The next A-class will be the first of Mercedes’ eight new small cars including a replacement for the B-class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA. The brand’s small car line-up will also include an A-class sedan, a GLB and a possible new seven-seater GLB.
These smaller models will share a new range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that are claimed to offer improved economy and emissions when compared to the current motors.
The range begins with the new M282 petrol engine, which was co-developed with Renault. While there is a 1.2-litre version and a 1.4-litre version, the latter is expected on the A-class. Above the M282, there is the M260 petrol engine in 1.6-litre and 2.0-litres guises. The 2.0-litre engine will also come in a mild hybrid set-up, assisted by a 48V electrical system. The AMG-badged M133 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine will also feature, but it will be tweaked to produce over 400hp.
The diesel engine line-up is expected to comprise of Mercedes’ latest 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the OM654, and be available in up to three states of tune.
The German brand is also expected to offer a plug-in hybrid A-class to rival the Volkswagen Golf GTE. Mercedes has not revealed the powertrain details yet, but the 1.4-litre M282 petrol engine is expected in combination with an electric motor mounted inside the front section of a new nine-speed dual-clutch automatic. The powertrain will be one of many made by Mercedes’ EQ sub-brand.
Insiders have suggested to our sister publication Autocar UK that the lithium ion battery will have enough energy density for a 50km all-electric range.
The transmission options on the next A-class are expected to include improved versions of the current six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes. Higher-spec models are also expected to feature an optional nine-speed dual-clutch unit that supports a coasting mode together with kinetic energy regeneration. Alongside standard front-wheel drive, Mercedes will make the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system available on higher-end models.