2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class First Review
- All-new entry-level subcompact from Mercedes
- Offered in A220 front-drive and A220 4Matic trim levels
- Sedan slots beneath $34,095 Mercedes CLA Compact
- Arrives early next year to compete with Audi A3
It may not be generally known, but Mercedes-Benz has had the subcompact A-Class in its lineup for over 20 years, starting out as a wonky hatchback that never was quite ready for prime time in the U.S. Over the years, the A-Class has matured and grown in size, and now this handsome sedan, sporting a traditional 3-box design, is finally coming to America, though it’s leaving its hatchback siblings behind.
The all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 is good news for those who missed the last chance to snag an entry-level sedan with the three-pointed star when the CLA bowed five years ago with a sticker that started beneath $30,000. In subsequent years, Mercedes’ first front-drive sedan moved upscale leaving a void at the entry level to be filled by this new model.
Like the CLA it uses a transversely mounted engine driving the front wheels in base models, while the step-up trim level, the A200 4Matic, offers all-wheel drive. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The A-Class has a tidy footprint, riding on a 107.4-inch wheelbase and measuring 179.1 inches in overall length. It stands 56.9 inches tall and 70.7 inches wide sans mirrors. The 2019 Mercedes A-Class features an independent front suspension and multi-link rear on both front-drive and 4Matic all-wheel-drive models.
Mercedes ‘Mini-me’ style
Although subcompact in size, the new A-Class is Mercedes-styling writ large. The sedan body works well here tying this car tightly to the larger 4-door models in the lineup. That’s precisely the point of the A-Class: opening the opportunity to own a Mercedes to a whole new class of buyers on a budget. They won’t be disappointed by the exterior.
The face of the A-Class is pure Mercedes. There’s a large three-pointed star logo in the middle of the grille, which also features a button-like texture seen in the larger cars in the range. Lower front intakes, a shark-nose look to the front fascia and flared wheel arches gives the A-Class muscular look that belies its size. Wheels range in size from base 17- to optional 19-inch alloys, which also help give the car a planted look. The clean flowing body is punctuated by a few sharp character lines and LED front and rear lighting elements add to the upscale look.
The cabin also owes a lot of its layout to larger C- and E-Class models. Mercedes’ new MBUX user interface is incorporated in the twin-screen configuration that features two standard 7-inch display screens, one in front of the driver for instrumentation and vehicle system readouts and a center console touchscreen for the infotainment. In their place, two 10.25-inch screens are available as an option.
The MBUX allows the vehicle to be controlled by using natural speech recognition, the center touchscreen display, a console-mounted touchpad and touch controls on the steering wheel. While the natural speech control is improved, it still needs work. The system, activated when you say “Hey, Mercedes” is listening all the time. So, it may pick up random bits of your conversation and butt in asking, “How can I help?” Buried in menus is a way to turn it off and activate it using a steering-wheel mounted button, if you prefer.
The interior design is modern and stark. Below the center display are three large, circular air vents, and two others are tucked in the corners of the dash. Below the center vents is a row of auxiliary switches while the console is equipped with the touch pad and a hand rest.
Other bits from the company’s parts bin that lend an air of familiarity are the door-mounted power seat adjusters and the column-mounted gear selector like the ones used on a wide range of Mercedes products.
The layout of the dash is designed to give this small car’s cabin a roomy feel. The bucket seats are firm and supportive and the basic MB-Tex leatherette has a quality look and feel and should prove to be durable over the long haul. Leather is available in optional premium packages that can add thousands to the sticker. So, if you’re not judicious in your option selections, we predict this entry-level vehicle may cost something in the neighborhood of the slightly larger CLA when optioned up.
Overall cabin comfort and noise levels are good, though on some rough patches of interstate, we noticed a bit of tire noise from the optional 19-inch wheel and tire package that features Pirelli PZero performance tires. Base versions ride on a 17-inch wheels with all-season tires. All models have a panoramic glass roof, which adds to the open feeling of the cockpit.
The optional Driver Assistance Package on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class contains many elements found on the company’s E- and S-Class vehicles. Among the features are active distance assist on the intelligent cruise control that incorporates route-based speed adaptation that reads map data to anticipate and adjusts speed for curves, junctions, roundabouts, toll booths and exits. This system also has a setting to automatically adjust vehicle speed to limits indicated in the navigation system.
Active steering assist is a lane keeping function that also helps with lane changes as well as being able to recognize distracted driving or a lack of vehicle control. In that instance, the system can bring the vehicle to stop in a controlled manner. The package also includes automatic braking if a possible collision is detected from the front or rear, as well as being able to detect pedestrians. The brake assist also works when monitoring cross traffic as well as using the brakes on one side of the car if the vehicle is detected moving into a lane where there’s another vehicle in the blind spot.
Despite the front-drive layout, the Mercedes A-Class has the type of road manners you expect from a European sport sedan. The independent suspension works well in both the front-drive and all-wheel-drive 4Matic, controlling body roll while still imparting an impressive ride despite the short wheelbase and compact dimensions. The steering is direct and linear with sufficient weighting on the thick rimmed wheel.
Even though the turbo 4-cylinder engine makes only 188 horsepower, the 221 lb-ft of torque gives the car a snappy feel off the line. And the smooth shifts and responsive nature of the 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission add to the vehicle’s sporty attitude. This new generation of dual-clutch transmissions is a marked improvement over the unit used in the CLA. The car is also equipped with an unobtrusive engine stop/start system. Fuel economy figures are yet to be announced.
Designed to compete directly with the Audi A3, Mercedes would say at this time they expect pricing to start below $35,000. Given that the 2018 A3 starts at $31,950 for a front-drive model, it’s a good bet that the new A-Class will start closer to that figure. Mercedes did say that 4Matic will be a $2,000 option, so all-wheel-drive versions will be closer to $34,000. Add premium touches like the larger screens, driver assists and an upgraded sound system, and it’s likely the A-Class will top $40,000. Still, for those wanting to get into a Mercedes for the first time -- the German brand is counting on over half the buyers coming from other makes -- the all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 should find its way onto a lot of shopping lists.
2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 Standard Features
Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) with voice recognition
7-inch digital instrument cluster
7-inch multimedia touchscreen
Panoramic glass roof
LED headlamps and taillamps
Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Center console touchpad
Dual-zone climate control
Multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles
Active brake assist
Adaptive braking with hill start assist and hold function
2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 Options
4Matic all-wheel drive
10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen
Driver assist package including adaptive cruise control, active steering assist
Parking assist package
Exterior lighting package
65-color ambient lighting
AMG Line exterior and interior accents
Burmester premium sound system
Keyless go with hands-free access
Heated front seats
Heated steering wheel
Dynamic body control
Heated and ventilated seats