Seattle, WA. This is Mercedes’ A Game. If M-Benz’s prices the new 2019 A220 sedan and A250 hatchback right, the competition barely stands a chance. I’m still completely blown away by what I experienced over a distance of nearly 500 km and many hours in this car’s presence.
I don’t feel at all hesitant describing this A-Class as a true gamechanger. If you consider that any car can be broken down into four distinct elements (design, technology, drive and emotional appeal), the new 2019 A-Class could be a threat and a menace for most cars between $30,000 and $50,000. How’s that?
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be perfectly at home in showrooms alongside the CLA, C-, E- and even S-Class cars. In fact, with the 19-inch wheels, it nearly stands as a more premium product than the C-Class.
It matches the CLA and even surpassed it in visual appeal, if mostly because the CLA is getting old. Believe-me-you that Mercedes have all this figured out – the next 2021 CLA will climb the grade echelon leaving a larger gap between it and the A, allowing the latter to grow.
While the sheet-metal is seductive, it’s the cabin that has us reeling. This is due in large part to the optional twin-10.25-inch screens as part of the Premium package. In all likelihood, you may never see what the standard twin-7-inch screens look like – I’ve not seen them even after sifting through more than 225 pictures in M-B’s media gallery.
The dashboard reminds me of what a future autonomous car will look like on the inside. If the steering was removeable, I can picture the screens sliding from one side to another between and above the vents. This is total 21st Century stuff.
Overall, the cabin’s presentation is exceptionally up-class. From the materials, the styling and the HMI, it will please everyone.
If the car’s styling doesn’t get you, this will. In fact, if the A-Class does not have a function you desire, you’ll probably have to invent it yourself. The 2019 Mercedes A220 offers benchmark connectivity, some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen, features intelligent learning and is generally easy to use.
The system will rely on the cloud for large portions of the offered services. This means that the technology is constantly updatable. Of the many features, MercedesMe connected services will serve as your life-line to the car. For three years, you will be able to remote start the car, monitor its vitals and much more.
From there, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and other systems are displayed on what has become a true tablet/smartphone experience. The menus on the twin-screens rely on Nvidia graphics (like game consoles), are customize-able and even predict behaviour by learning through habits.
For example, if every other Sunday, you drive to grandma’s house and like to listen to Abba, the car will eventually suggest, on a Sunday, the directions to nanna’s house and find you some Abba to rock out too.
Mercedes’ in-car infotainment system dubbed MBUX or Mercedes-Benz User Experience has become the world’s most powerful of its kind currently available. It’s not without flaws however. The available augmented reality navigation is absolutely distracting, occasionally slow to deliver information and at least in its early stages, not very intuitive.
Lastly, there’s Voice Assistant. The keywords to activate are: “Hey, Mercedes”. In the presentation, Mercedes explained that the system recognizes plain English statements like “I am cold” and casual questions like “Call my mom”.
After saying these sentences, the car is expected to act accordingly by raising the temperature or calling mommy. In the time I had with the car, the test failed nearly three out of five times, using various similar questions, even suggested ones. The A220 and I need to spend more quality time together.
Being old-school, this is where I always begin when considering a car. It’s not a question of power or even handling, it’s about matching expectations. Given the prominent three-pointed star symbol on this car, it needs to behave in a certain way.
While I was not-so secretly hoping the A220 to be sharp and dynamic, I can report that it feels every bit like a Mercedes-Benz should. Sounds obvious does it not? Fact of the matter is that I found the two or three CLAs (excluding the AMG 45) I’ve driven over the years to be so far below Mercedes standards that I’ve simply never liked the car.
The A-Class drives big and powerful. It seems purpose-built for cruising and it is far quicker than the turbocharged 2.0-litre’s 188-horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. of torque suggest.
The twin-scroll turbo-4-cylinder engine produces lag-free torque as of 1,600 rpm and pulls strongly all the way to 6,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the standard 7-speed ducal-clutch transmission 7DCT is constantly working in your best interests. FWD is standard, while 4MATIC AWD is a must-have option for we Canucks.
I enjoyed carving country and mountain roads and covering many highway miles in the A220. It is a good driving car.
All luxury car brands are striving to put their best foot forward with their entire line of products. Even so, one can always tell where one car stands against another in a showroom. The gaps between the 2- and 3 Series BMW are clear, far more than between the Audi A3 and A4.
As I’ve said, the A-Class outclasses the CLA, matches the C-Class and nudges ever so slightly against the E-Class. While that can poses some issues for buyers of all but the A-Class, walking into a showroom and driving away with an A deals no shame.
Not only will you have a gorgeous car in your driveway but it’ll have more technology and gadgets than your neighbour’s 6-month old BMW 5 Series and your other neighbour’s year-old Lexus LS.
The A-Class is the full package. Priced right, Benz dealers may have to hire guns to keep rowdy crowds in check once the car arrives. Oh, and in my opinion, the A250 hatchback is an even more tempting prospect. This is the A Game with a one-two punch.