CARS

Mercedes-Benz Unveils an Exciting Entry into the Premium Sedan Market

A LITTLE RAINFALL IN THE MOST POPULOUS BOROUGH OF NEW YORK CITY WASN’T ENOUGH TO DETER PROCEEDINGS AT HIP AND HAPPENING, 1 HOTEL BROOKLYN BRIDGE LAST WEEK, WHERE BAY STREET BULL WAS ON-SITE FOR THE GLOBAL DEBUT OF MERCEDES-BENZ’S HOTLY ANTICIPATED 2019 A-CLASS SEDAN.

Written by Chris Metler

The event constituted the world premiere of the entry-level effort, not only symbolizing the first time the luxury automobile marque will make the A-Class available in North America, but the first occasion they intend to offer the compact class in Canada, period.

The vehicle endeavours to gain market share over contemporaries like the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo S60. But as far as it pertains to luring away loyal buyers from other manufacturers — with the hope of converting them into regular customers — the strategy isn’t too far at odds with the initiative Mercedes employed in 2013. That was the year they launched a similarly diminutive four-door CLA Coupe, which realized a quote-unquote conquest rate of fifty percent of first-time buyers to the Mercedes brand.

Yes, the new generation of compacts have made a key contribution to the rejuvenation and accessibility of the Mercedes-Benz brand. And if all goes according to plan, the 2019 A-Class will quickly follow in the CLA Coupe’s footsteps.

Here’s how:

SENSUAL PURITY

Based on six guidelines — from unexpected moments, stimulating contrast and stunning proportions to freeform / geometry, significant graphics and natural attraction — sensual purityrefers to Mercedes-Benz’s official design code. The desired result of this philosophy? To achieve an expression of modern luxury, as appropriately interpreted for each model.

Of course, the 2019 A-Class Sedan strives to seamlessly align with the idiom. The design at the front appears quite progressive. Consider the car’s low and elongated hood, slimline LED headlamps with chrome element, flashlight-like LED daytime driving lights, as well as the single-louvre diamond radiator grille with a central star. Width is then spotlighted at the rear, thanks to two-part tail lamps. Depending on the selected equipment, this rear bumper comes with a black diffuser or chrome trim strip and chrome tailpipe tips.

It’s a charmer, alright. Sleek, athletic and aerodynamic in equal measure.

UNDER THE HOOD

Expected to arrive in Canadian dealerships by the end of the year, the 2019 A-Class Sedan will hit showrooms with a pair of trims: the front-wheel-drive A 220 and the all-wheel-drive A 220 4MATIC. Each is outfitted with an identical 2.0-litre gas I4 engine, pumping out an impressive 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Both trims are further mated to the automaker’s trademark 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission. This transmission operates without any interruptions in tractive power, thereby providing the comforts of an automatic transmission coupled with the efficiency of a manual transmission. It’s even been electronically limited to approximately 210 kilometres per hour, helping to ensure the driver’s ongoing need for speed won’t consequently result in a law-breaking — or fatal — dose of acceleration.

THE REVOLUTION FROM WITHIN

Mercedes has made it readily apparent they want to shake up the compact category. To do that, the 2019 A-Class Sedan delivers what’s been described as a new feeling of spaciousness from the inside. Take the dashboard’s avant-garde construction, which shapes the vehicle’s unique interior architecture. Here, designers dispensed with a cowl above the cockpit. The dashboard trim piece instead proceeds to extend from one front door to the other with no visual discontinuity.

Sporty, turbine-style air vents also serve in promoting an entirely new interior approach, while the sixty-four colours of the optional ambient lighting — themselves arranged into ten themes for an innovative display — set increased standards in the segment.

“HEY, MERCEDES!”

The rumours are true: the 2019 A-Class Sedan is the inaugural Mercedes model to showcase the completely new MBUX multimedia system. A remarkable feature of this platform is its capacity to learn owing to artificial intelligence. It is customizable and adapts to the user, thereby creating an emotional connection between the vehicle, driver and passengers.

Additional strengths of MBUX include smartphone integration featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a high-resolution Widescreen Cockpit with touchscreen-enabled media display, a navigation display with augmented reality technology and intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition. The latter is activated with a simple keyword: “HEY MERCEDES!” In turn, commands that directly correspond to the car’s hardware get processed instantly and without having to ping a distant or remote server. Compare the convenience to Siri or Alexa, except on wheels.

AN ALL-NEW GATEWAY TO YOUNGER CUSTOMERS

Although pricing so far hasn’t been revealed, the 2019 A-Class Sedan will in all likelihood become the most economical Mercedes on the market today. This might just make it the marque’s most seminal new model, too. The appeal to youthful buyers is obvious, especially when combined with the prestige correlated to Mercedes. After all, thanks to a proportionately lower cost, graduating from a Honda or Toyota to a Mercedes-Benz should no longer seem so intimidating.

It circles back to the triumph of the aforementioned CLA Coupe. On average, those who purchased the car were eleven years younger than the median age of buyers of other Mercedes vehicles. And once again, in the case of the 2019 A-Class Sedan, the bottom line and potential growth opportunity that demographic represents can’t be overlooked — or understated.

“The formula for success in this industry is pretty simple,” Mercedes USA President and CEO Dietmar Exler concluded at the end of his presentation. “Attract younger customers to the brand and keep them for life.”

Photos courtesy of Mercedes-Benz