A number of improvements to the steering, suspension and chassis are set to enhance the driving experience
28 December 2017

The new Mercedes A-Class, which will be revealed ahead of its public debut at Geneva motor show in March, will depart from today’s model by receiving two different suspension sets, according to Mercedes' boss of compact vehicle testing Jochen Eck.

Both sets will use the same MacPherson strut set-up at the front, although they differ radically at the rear, with lower-end models set to run a newly developed torsion beam arrangement while high-end models will sport a revised version of the multi-link suspension first seen on the outgoing third-generation A-class.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class revealed with all-new infotainment tech

Eck said: “We knew we had to improve the ride. The whole class has moved on since we launched the old model. We’ve spent a lot of time tuning the bushings and kinematic properties of both systems to get the result we were looking for. The added torsional rigidity of the body structure helps a lot, too.”

That rigidity also helps improve noise, vibration and harshness in the A-Class, along with more sound deadening foam in the body structure, according to Eck. He said that while the predecessor’s NVH “wasn’t too bad at launch”, the competition has upped its game.

The new A-Class’s electro-mechanical steering continues to offer a fixed ratio or variable ratio depending on the chosen model, but the car maker has made some changes, including a repositioning of the rack so it now sits further back in the chassis. Eck said: “It is still quite light in overall weighting and fairly direct in comparison to the competition, but there’s definitely more feedback and communication than before. I think enthusiast drivers will like it. There’s more on-centre precision, but it doesn’t come at the expense of off-centre sharpness.”

Mercedes has also worked on improving visibility from the A-Class, with Eck recognising that it was “a problem” with the predecessor. “The pillars are now thinner and the rear side windows are also larger," said Ek. "There is much better vision to the rear.”     

The redesigned A-Class has grown in length, including a 30mm increase in the wheelbase, while the interior gets a similar widescreen cockpit to that found in the S-Class, with the most expensive option using two 10.3in displays. It will also feature touch operation for infotainment and navigation, a first for Mercedes.

The new A-Class will adopt a number of driving aids seen on higher-end Mercedes, including an active blind spot assistant, called Exit Assist, and an improved version of the existing model’s Park Assist, with 360deg camera.

There will be five petrol variants plus two performance models, badged A35 and A45, and four diesel options.

A first ride in the new A-Class: 

For our first stint in the new A-Class, we’re in the entry-level diesel variant, the 1.5-litre A160d, on public roads near Arvidsjaur in the north of Sweden, where Mercedes has been busy cold-weather testing its entry-level model.

Although we’ve only experienced the new Mercedes from the passenger seat, it certainly feels smoother and more controlled than its predecessor over rough roads, even with the torsion beam set-up and standard single rate dampers – the cheaper of the two suspension set-ups.

There’s greater absorption of road shock and less vertical movement over bumps, particularly at the rear.

As well as improvements in comfort, the noise, vibration and harshness levels are also better, and visibility appears superior, although we won’t know for sure until we are behind the wheel next year.

Eck, as nominated driver, said: “The predecessor model was good, but I think we’ve managed to move the game along. It is more grown up, you could say it now meets the expectations of a Mercedes better than ever before.”

By next April we should be able to verify this for ourselves, but for now, it appears the new A-Class is ready to replicate the sales success of its predecessor.  

Read more 

Mercedes-Benz A-Class review 

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class spied 

Mercedes-AMG A45 review 

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz A-Class review hero front

Can the latest Mercedes A-Class's slick conformity outweigh the old model's originality?

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Comments
15

28 December 2017

The current A-Class has always struck me as being one of those cars where style ruled over substance and sold merely because of the badge because in almost every other respect it appears to be a pretty average car at best. It's not spacious (inc boot), it doesn't ride particularly well, the handling is average, refinement isn't the best, most of the engines are average (though they appear more refined in other cars which use the same engines) and the interior, while looking great IMO, isn't made from high quality material, in fact it feels fairly cheap. The AMG 45 appears to be the exception to the A-Class range because overall it's hard to not view the current model as not only average but perhaps one of the the worst, if not the worst, car in the class. Lets hope the new model has as much substance and ability as style and is worthy of the Mercedes badge.

28 December 2017
Lanehogger wrote:

The current A-Class has always struck me as being one of those cars where style ruled over substance and sold merely because of the badge because in almost every other respect it appears to be a pretty average car at best. It's not spacious (inc boot), it doesn't ride particularly well, the handling is average, refinement isn't the best, most of the engines are average (though they appear more refined in other cars which use the same engines) and the interior, while looking great IMO, isn't made from high quality material, in fact it feels fairly cheap. The AMG 45 appears to be the exception to the A-Class range because overall it's hard to not view the current model as not only average but perhaps one of the the worst, if not the worst, car in the class. Lets hope the new model has as much substance and ability as style and is worthy of the Mercedes badge.

Agreed. An also ran rather than a class leader. And very expensive for what you actually get for all the points you have raised. The part I could never get over - diesel engines from a Renault Clio packaged up into something costing top money for the class! I worked with people in a former role where they bragged about driving an A/CLA and then I noted they were driving the aforementioned humble diesel engines and had a little chuckle to myself. Not because it was a terrible thing to have the Renault engines; more so because they skulked around saying they had the best thing since sliced bread! Complete ignorance and arrogance all rolled into one. 

28 December 2017

Following VAG’s path and cheapening up the suspension at the rear of the vehicle to save them money and hope the customer doesn’t notice.

Mercs premium image on the decline further? Becoming just another mass produced manufacturer 

28 December 2017
Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

Following VAG’s path and cheapening up the suspension at the rear of the vehicle to save them money and hope the customer doesn’t notice.

Mercs premium image on the decline further? Becoming just another mass produced manufacturer 

Probably so they can use the same components as a Nissan/Renault based on the same platform. 

28 December 2017
Citytiger wrote:

Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

Following VAG’s path and cheapening up the suspension at the rear of the vehicle to save them money and hope the customer doesn’t notice.

Mercs premium image on the decline further? Becoming just another mass produced manufacturer 

Probably so they can use the same components as a Nissan/Renault based on the same platform. 

Good point probably is. 

28 December 2017

If Mercedes aim is to compete against Honda and Mazda, it's a pity and detrimental to their image. 

28 December 2017

Free advertising for Mercedes? If this was a JLR article that’s what we would be reading right now......

Personally I dislike the new digital display in the A class. Car makers are generally doing badly at this sort of stuff. If you buy a Tesla all you get is a screen and no button. Whereas the Mercs dash is styled like a Rover SD1 but for the digital age. The only car maker to get this right so far is Land Rover in the new Velar and even there I think there is room for improvement...

 

29 December 2017
TStag wrote:

Personally I dislike the new digital display in the A class. Car makers are generally doing badly at this sort of stuff. If you buy a Tesla all you get is a screen and no button. 

 

Mercedes, when it was an engineering-led and design-led company, used to have a different shape for each type of control. Everything was intuitive to use. Everything was tactile, done by feel without having to take your eyes off the road.

Now that Mercedes is no more than a volume producer and a market-led company, all these fine details have gone, replaced by the ubiquitous digital dash. Cheap to make no doubt, but good to use - absolutely not. 

Only the wonderful pictogram electric seat adjustment remains, much copied by other car manufacturers.

30 December 2017
TStag wrote:

Personally I dislike the new digital display in the A class.  The only car maker to get this right so far is Land Rover in the new Velar and even there I think there is room for improvement...

If you look at some of the feedback from JLR's current infotainment system "InControl" you would see its a heap of junk, it freezes, it crashes, the apps are limited or just dont work, the apps it does have are out of date, they still charge silly money for "out of date" map updates, I think the only manufacturer who seem to have balance right is Volvo or Audi. 

 

28 December 2017

Your previous reviews of the current model absolutely slates it for handling over ride going too far so it rides crap. Then I see your new model headlines - more 'driver-focused'. Sound like same problem repeated.

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