The struggle to lure buyers from regular cars to performance prestige vehicles is increasingly being played out in the car rather than under the hood or body.
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a model example. A reduced 1.3-liter engine strengthens the A200 that was for sale this week. No one will care about the capacity because it has a fraction more power than the car it replaces and uses a smaller fuel.
They will care about the pair of 10.2-inch screens that extend over the device that covers the driver's screens and infotainment operation.
They will also take care that standard artificial intelligence will learn their voice patterns and driving preferences during the first six weeks of ownership, and then give better recognition and predictive suggestions to make life behind the wheel easier to negotiate.
Among the target groups is the fact that this A class is grown with 1
The amount of software packed into the small five-seater hatch is amazing. Some may find it confusing. USB C ports receive the latest devices with faster data transfer and charging. Smartphone mirroring is standard and there is a wireless charging tray for Qi-enabled examples.
The safety equipment extends to semi-automated parking to avoid the embarrassing touch-park moments. The blind spot assistance remains active for up to three minutes after the vehicle is switched off to avoid "dying" passers-by cyclists.
In addition to the above-mentioned items, the A200 standard specification includes a black diamond pin grille, adaptive LED headlights, fake leather seats, sat nav, digital radio and a touchpad instead of the plate control. It is worth noting that the touchpad is now one of three ways to control infotainment, along with the touchscreen itself and sweep / touch buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
Alternative packages are comprehensive and accommodate those who want more comfort, more style and even more security technology.
A200 is the opening gambit in Merc's renewed attack on "conquest" buyers, either from competing prestige brands or regular companies. It will be followed by all-wheel drive A250 late in the year, with the A180 base due to early next year and A-Class since June.
The engine, developed with Renault, is A200's drumming heart. It's vibration-free over the entire range, and can not buckle from rest to 100 km / h in a respectable 8.0 seconds, while it does not sound particularly inspiring.
It's also funky around the city, where the upgraded seven-step dual coupling provides help avoiding the tough and tough startups that the previous version could ever throw up.
A torsion beam is the standard rear suspension. It's cheap but not ugly and most A200 buyers would be better off not using extra to have a multi-link setup installed just because hard loading is not A200's task – that task will fall to it yet to be announced the AMG A35 and A45 models.
A back-to-back test of the two suspensions shows that the multi-coupling is marginally larger, as driving mode changes from comfort to sport. In the daily run, it's hard to see the difference unless you hit a midstroke at a severe pace so I'll save my coin for some of the other features or set the AMG Line package with a 15mm lower driving height.
In both cases, the A200 cuts with small steady and sharp sharp routes with the comfort you expect from a prestigious product.
The required thirst of 5.7L / 100km could be attainable: We used 6.3L in a mix of driving in cities and land, climbing to 7.5L when they were twisted and hilly.
A200 is more accommodating in all ways. Improvements to the drive are important, but interaction with the software instead of the wheel is what will impress most buyers in this segment – and the baby Benz nails it.
WITH A REFERENCE
PRICE $ 47,200 additional charges on the road
WARRANTY AND SERVICE Three years / unlimited mileage; 12 months / 25,000 km; $ 2480 for 3 years
SAFETY Not yet rated, 9 airbags, AEB, dead end and lane
ENGINE 1.3-liter four-cylinder turbo, 120kW / 250Nm
THIRD 5.7L / 100km (95 RON)
SPARE None (Repair Kit)