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The all new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is easily the standard bearer of its class. Here are five of its improvements that make it so.

08 May 2018

So we've established that the all new, fourth generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class lineup has been heavily improved to easily become the best in class on many fronts. But how exactly has it done so, again? Well, here are five of the most important contributing factors.

Rear space sports more shoulder, elbow and headroom
1. Grown-up proportions

An increase in spaciousness for any car is always good news and it's no different with the new A-Class. The car has now grown 120mm longer, 16mm wider, 6mm taller and has its wheelbase lengthened by 30mm.

Inside, this translates into a cabin that offers 9mm more shoulder room in the front, 22mm in the rear; 35mm more elbow room in the front, 36mm more in the rear; while headroom has increased by 7mm and 8mm, front and rear respectively.

At the same time, the A-Class' stretched proportions also result in its boot's holding capacity increasing by 29 litres, measuring a more generous 370 litres now. And despite being bigger than before all around, Mercedes' engineers have managed to keep its kerb weight 20kg lighter.

MBUX can be operated via touchscreen or, if you wish, a touchpad or buttons on the steering
2. A cockpit for the future

In the digitisation department, Mercedes has, for a while, been riding on the coattails of Audi in terms of simplicity of design and user interface. But aside from the more expensive E-Class and S-Class, its A-Class, too, is now blessed with a superbly designed digital cluster and completely new multimedia system.

Known as Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), it is housed in either a base 7.0-inch or larger 10.25-inch dual-screen. It is operated either by touchscreen, touchpad or touch control buttons in the steering wheel.

Mercedes says MBUX allows for an emotional connection between the vehicle, driver and passengers and it's very much capable of doing so, thanks to artificial intelligence and able to be highly personalised. Some of its standout features include intelligent voice control and a navigation system with augmented reality technology.

Some of the active safety systems can be adjusted conveniently via buttons on the steering
3. Addition of Intelligent Drive

For the first time, the A-Class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain driving situations. It has the highest safety standard in its segment thanks to extended driving assistance systems with S‑Class functions.

Available are electric nannies such as Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist that support the driver in keeping a safe distance and steering, and automatically adjusting vehicle speed on bends, at road junctions and on roundabouts.

Also available on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist and PRE-SAFE PLUS, which can recognise an imminent rear-end collision. The new A-Class is also the first Mercedes-Benz model to have been developed at the new Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety.

The A200's turbocharged 1.4-litre isn't just a smooth operator but one that's not thirsty thanks to cylinder shutoff
4. New and improved powertrains

There are currently two new turbocharged petrol engines on offer with the A-Class. The most powerful is the 2.0-litre M260 that comes with the A250. Making a hearty 221bhp and 350Nm, it lets the new car go from 0-100km/h in a hot hatchy 6.2 seconds.

The second is a 1.4-litre in the A200 that's however closer in mathematical terms to being a 1.3-litre. Named M282, it's actually the more impressive unit that we tested. It may have a much lesser 161bhp and 250Nm of torque but is the more refined one of the two and even has cylinder shutoff technology, which means it operates on two cylinders between 1,250 and 3,800rpm and under light load to boost fuel economy.

Both engines are paired with a new seven-speed double-clutch gearbox that's a lot more decisive, smoother and quicker than the transmission it replaces.

The new A-Class moves with a suppleness and maturity that well exceeds that of its class rivals
5. Its ride rivals cars one or even two classes above

From the moment you first move off in the new A-Class, the most immediately noticeable characteristic of the car is how it just soaks up bumps and ruts in road the way more expensive, more luxurious cars do.

Whether it's the A250 with its more sophisticated four-link rear suspension or the A200 with torsion beam rear suspension, there's a welcome suppleness to the springing. Where it's predecessor has failed to deliver the sort of ride comfort expected of Mercedes, the new car is silken in its movements, stable, relaxed and matured.

Coupled with the improvements made to reduce road and wind noise from penetrating the immaculate cabin, the A-Class is as quiet munching away at the tarmac as it is silkenly gliding over it.
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