When Mercedes first decided to cheapen the brand and go downmarket where the volume is but the profits aren’t, things didn’t go exactly to plan.
Back in 1997 the new budget car from Stuttgart, the A-Class, literally and dimensionally announced itself as the brand’s smallest car and the first time Mercedes dabbled in the economy segment. The headlines however wrote themselves, because the car quickly gained notoriety for ill dynamics thanks to a Swedish journalist who managed to roll the car during the infamous Moose Test, a slalom manoeuvre that all cars in Europe get tested for.
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Either way over a million first-generation A-Classes were sold and everyone was laughing all the way to the bank. Well, everyone except the moose.
Mercedes went on to launch a second-generation A-Class in 2004, and then shifted the whole concept a bit upmarket towards the BMW 1 Series with the third-generation model from 2012.
Now there is an all-new 2018 fourth-generation A-Class that’s just been revealed by Mercedes, and it’s looking decidedly nicer than all the others before it, with clean, pure lines and less fussy detailing than on the outgoing car.
When it’s released for sale in the Middle East by the end of the year, the A-Class line-up will top out with the A 250 powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a seven-speed automatic twin-clutch transmission. The Germans rate it at 224bhp at 5,500rpm with 350Nm of torque coming on from 1,800rpm. This gives the A 250 performance figures of 0-100kph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 250kph.
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The big highlight is the new interior with the introduction of Merc’s new infotainment system on board that’s heavy on the AI and voice control. The cockpit incorporates a pair of 7.0in displays in base spec form, but if you move up through the range you get two 10.25in screens up there, as well as touch-controls in the steering wheel spokes.
Naturally, the car has grown in size, but then again you also get nearly 30 litres of added cargo room compared to its predecessor for a 370-litre total, and increased passenger space. To be precise, the A 250 is 64mm longer than the outgoing car, 26mm wider, and 15mm taller, with a wheelbase stretched by 30mm to 2,729mm.
When Affalterbach rolls out the hot AMG version of the A-Class in 2019, you can expect a bonkers all-wheel drive hatch with over 400 horsepower — over at the factory they call this model the ‘Predator’ so you know it won’t be shy.
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