Mercedes-Benz has upgraded the A-Class sedan for the last time, which gets a mild hybrid system on 48V and ditches the imprecise touchpad and manual gearbox, retaining only the dual-clutch automatic gearbox that has revised software. In test Mercedes A 200 sedan test with 163 ps/161 hp.
You have to peruse the press map and look in detail to identify the facelift changes. The two power lines on the bonnet, the redesigned bumper separated from the radiator grille, and new LED daytime running lights in the form of a straight LED bar at the top of the headlights instead of the boomerang-shaped ones are the main changes. At the rear, the changes are even harder to spot noting the standard LED taillights with a new LED interior design and a new diffuser. Mercedes generally doesn’t make design revolutions on the occasion of a facelift and the A-Class confirms the rule.
More important, however, are other things. As soon as I opened the door, I had my first reason to rejoice as the imprecise pre-facelift touchpad was gone, replaced by a small storage compartment with a rubberized gripper base. No one will regret its disappearance because you have multiple control possibilities: touch, directly on the standard 10.25-inch multimedia display, by voice command, or from the mini-touches on the revised steering wheel, the one on the left for the digital instrument cluster (optional 10.25-inch, standard 7-inch), and the one on the right for the multimedia system. In front of the storage compartment is the revised button for drive modes and soon the fingerprint sensor as in the S-Class.
The optional 10.25-inch display for the instrument cluster has retained Classic, Sporty, and Discreet graphics with three modes (Navigation, Assist, Service) and optional augmented reality navigation and head-up display are available. The test model had the AMG Premium Plus package which includes them all in addition to the AMG design package with 18-inch wheels, Multibeam LED headlights, automatic climate control and assistance systems package, electrically adjustable sports seats, and Burmester audio system (€12,225).
Inside, you sit very low in the sports seats covered in a combination of leather and Alcantara, now with separate headrests that can be more conveniently adjusted for height. The sedan version has the same wheelbase as the hatchback but offers decent room in the back and good comfort on the very well-profiled rear bench. The 405-liter boot volume is 60 liters larger than the hatch, and folding the seat segments down from the boot flaps gives a flat load area. In the next generation, after 2025, the A-Class sedan and B-Class will disappear, with the Entry Luxury range consisting of the CLA coupe and shooting brake, GLA, and GLB.
The first model of the new compact range generation will be the new Mercedes CLA in 2024, based on the new MMA platform.
48V mild hybrid for petrol engines, manual gearbox out
The engine line-up remains unchanged, but the petrol engines get a 48V mild hybrid system with a 14 ps/13.8 hp belt-driven starter generator that supports the engine when starting. The manual gearbox is also a thing of the past, with only dual-clutch automatic transmissions available: 7-speed on the A 180 and A 200 and 8-speed on the A 220 4Matic and A 250 4Matic.
In the US only A 220 and A 220 4Matic sedans with 2 liter 188 hp are sold at a price of $33,950, respectively $35,950.
We drove the Mercedes A 200 version with the 1.33-liter engine of Renault origin, modified by Mercedes for premium requirements and mated to the Getrag 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Here too we see a major improvement over the pre-facelift model, with the gearbox benefiting from new software. Whereas before the facelift, the gearbox held the current gear too long in Comfort mode and downshifted too quickly on corner entry, leading to unnecessary extra engine revving, now the gearbox upshifts quickly if you don’t accelerate and harmonizes much better with the engine. The 163 ps/161 hp does its job well and efficiently and the two-cylinder decoupling system helped us get a decent 7l/100km (33.6 mpg).
The test car had the adaptive suspension (833 euros) which is adjusted quite firmly even in Comfort mode. It stiffens up on Sport but not significantly and in both modes, body roll is low. Although on front-wheel drive versions, the rear axle is semi-rigid (multilink only on 4Matic versions), ride comfort is premium-class worthy, with a touch of firmness thanks to the AMG suspension. The agility is also excellent, and it drives as incisively and engagingly as its Bavarian 1 Series rival.
Nearly five years after its launch, Mercedes has addressed the A-Class’ weaknesses: the imprecise touchpad is gone, the gearbox software has been improved and the standard equipment is more complete. The mild hybrid system didn’t bring extra efficiency, but the 1.33-litre turbo engine was already very efficient. The multimedia system, instrument cluster, and interior trim are worthy of the premium segment.