New A-Class poised for 2018 debut

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More space, refinement, tech and efficiency planned; line-up includes plug-in hybrid

The final design of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been seen ahead of its official launch early next year. The BMW 1 Series rival is longer than the outgoing car and adopts a new floorpan and body structure that are claimed to increase rigidity. This, in turn, should give the new model much improved refinement.

Underpinning the new A-Class is a redeveloped MFA (modular front architecture) with MacPherson-strut front and multi-link rear suspension.

It supports Mercedes’ Drive Select function, which allows the driver to alter the characteristics of the steering, engine mapping, gearbox software and damping using at least four different modes.

The 2018 A-Class is the first of up to eight new compact Mercedes models, which include replacements for today’s B-Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, as well as the GLA. There will also be an A-Class Saloon, a GLB and possibly a seven-seat version of the GLB. The new A-Class and its compact siblings will get new four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines – all claimed to offer better economy and emissions than today’s units.

A plug-in hybrid version is also planned as a rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTE. It is expected to run a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in combination with an electric motor housed within the forward section of Mercedes’ new nine-speed DCT gearbox. It will be one of a number of EQ Power-branded drivelines and is set to offer an electric-only range of up to 31 miles.

The new A-Class will use revised versions of today’s six-speed manual and seven-speed DCT gearboxes. Selected models will get the optional nine-speed DCT unit that supports a coasting mode together with kinetic energy regeneration. Alongside standard front-wheel drive, 4Matic all-wheel drive will be available on higher-end models.

A roomier cabin has a new dashboard with higher-grade materials, digital instruments and a new touch-based Comand 5 infotainment system. There is also a new steering wheel with touchpad controls and a raft of driver assistance systems as part of Mercedes’ suite of Level 2 autonomous driving functions.

GREG KABLE

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