The new Mercedes-Benz model is aimed squarely at the Audi A3 saloon
The sixth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up, which goes under the internal codename Z177, draws heavily on the earlier Concept A saloon unveiled at last year’s Shanghai motor show with an appearance that combines the distinctive front-end styling of the recently introduced fourth-generation A-Class hatchback with a rear-end reminiscent of the latest third-generation CLS.
Although the A-Class Saloon sold in China, or the A-Class L Saloon as it is officially named, receives a 60mm longer wheelbase than that planned for sale in the UK, officials confirm the two variants of the new four-door boast the same styling.
“They’re the same model but in different lengths. The added length of the Chinese version is concentrated wholly within the rear door, which is longer than that of the A-Class Saloon to be sold in other world markets to ease entry to the rear,” Mercedes-Benz’s chief design officer, Gorden Wagener, revealed to Autocar.
The new Mercedes-Benz model is aimed squarely at the Audi A3 Saloon. It is one of eight new compact models planned by the German car maker, including the new A-Class hatchback as well as successors to the existing B-class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA, as well a new compact SUV likely to be named the GLB and an as yet to be confirmed model.
At 4609mm in length, 1796mm in width and 1460mm in height, the Chinese version of the A-Class Saloon is 77mm shorter, 14mm narrower and 18mm higher than the existing standard wheelbase C-Class Saloon, as sold in the UK.
It also rides on a wheelbase that is just 51mm shorter than the standard wheelbase C-Class at 2789mm, with wheels that vary in diameter between 16in and 19in.
For other global markets, including the UK, the new four-door will receive a 60mm shorter wheelbase at 2729mm, reducing its length to 4549mm, making it 91mm longer than the Audi A3 Saloon.
For the Chinese version, boot capacity is put at 420 litres, 5 litres less than that offered by the A3 Saloon.
Inside, the new A-Class Saloon adopts the same high-quality dashboard and advanced infotainment functions as the new A-Class hatchback, including Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX operating system that introduces touchscreen control, conversational speech recognition and the ability for two users to connect simultaneously.
In China, the A-Class Saloon will initially be sold with a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 134bhp in base form or 161bhp in a mildly higher state of tune. It will be joined shortly after the new four-door’s introduction by a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 188bhp.
Both engines will be offered exclusively with a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, with the case of the smaller-engined models getting a Getrag-produced gearbox.
Chinese versions of the new A-class saloon will be produced at Beijing Benz Automotive – a joint-venture operation between Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler.