After an impressive North Carolina International Auto Expo, we were thrilled to be offered the opportunity to experience our show-stopper, the all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, in person. In an office dominated by their target demographic, we couldn’t pass up the chance from Mercedes Benz of Cary to get real-world reactions by the people Mercedes is hoping to make A-Class owners.
Mercedes is making a statement with its new, entry-level A-Class. It departs from the brand’s recent, soft design language and employs a bold, sleek look that appears sporty, yet remains approachable. Breaking with tradition, we’ve been told that the A-Class will be setting the tone for the brand's new design language for its next generation of cars. While we have little to critique on the exterior, we recommend opting for the AMG-Line package and AMG wheels. This package lowers the car slightly, but just enough for a noticeably sportier look and feel.
Getting in the A220, we immediately experienced the “wow factor” Mercedes was going for. The fit and finish are exactly what you’d expect of a Mercedes, with beautiful dual screen displays featuring incredible resolution, dual ambient lighting with 64 different colors, and soft-touch materials galore. It’s deceptively roomy in the cabin despite its compact exterior appearance.
Compared to the previous CLA, there’s noticeably more head and leg room, with enough room for 4.5 adults. The 14.8 cubic feet of trunk space is more than adequate, and we’re happy to see Mercedes employ 60/40 split folding rear seats in addition to a center rear seat pass through. Overall, this is truly a quality, yet practical interior. Only when you look closely can you see a few cost-saving touches like the dash material, but we’d argue that none of it feels “cheap.”
The technology crammed into this compact luxury sedan is impressive, albeit a bit overwhelming. The A220 features a seamless dual screen display controlling both the instrument cluster and multimedia interface, and boy what an interface it is. The in-house artificial intelligence is comparable to Amazon’s Alexa technology and controls every element of the car that isn’t viewed as safety related. It’s a welcome change from previous, clunky voice command systems. If you’re cold, just say “Hi Mercedes, I’m cold” and the heat comes on. If you’re lost, just say it.
The AI is seamless, provided you’re in an area with a decent 4G data connection. Additionally, navigation-equipped A220s feature an industry-first augmented reality system that displays a forward facing camera showing your turn by turn directions via arrows in real time. Combined with the Seat Kinetics, and an endless array of safety features, we’re thrilled to experience Mercedes embracing the digital age.
While it’s not as powerful as the three-pointed star’s previous entry, the CLA250, the A220’s 188-horsepower, 2-liter turbocharged inline-4 feels exuberant. Our front wheel drive variant’s low-end torque generated substantial wheel hop under hard acceleration from a stop, but the traction control quickly sorted it out. Understeer seems to be a little issue as road holding grip is phenomenal even without the optional 4Matic all-wheel drive.
There is some typical Mercedes numbness in Comfort and Eco settings in steering feel, throttle response, and gear changes, but switch the dynamic ride control to Sport, and it feels like a different machine altogether. Our hat’s off to Mercedes for providing some much-needed feedback in the steering wheel, which is rare in a non-AMG Benz. That being said, if the 6.7 second 0-60 sprint and 130mph electronically limited top speed doesn’t quite satisfy your lead foot, there are rumors of both an A35 and A45 AMG in the works.
Overall, the A-Class is an easy car to drive. Its compact size and feel make it at home on the smallest of roads and in the tightest of parking spaces. Inside, there’s adequate room for all passengers, with a trunk plenty big for those weekend adventures. The rear seats are 60/40 split folding, with a separate center seat pass through to the trunk, and as our staff pointed out, the child car seat anchors are easy to access and operate.
All things considered, our only disappointment with the A-Class is the missing hatchback variant in the US market. With sedans losing popularity, we feel that the hatchback would have been a more practical, appealing option for the younger demographic the brand’s working so hard to reach.
In short, we here at Spiffy think the 2019 Mercedes A220 is sure to drive young buyers into showrooms this year with its sporty styling, endless technology, and versatile practicality. If you’d like to go take it for a spin yourself in the greater Raleigh area, be sure to visit Rakesh at Mercedes Benz of Cary.
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