What's the news?
Mercedes has confirmed that an all-new A-Class Saloon is on the way and, somewhat surprisingly, it won't be replacing the CLA. The svelte new four-door machine goes into production later this year and is expected in Irish showrooms in the first quarter of 2019. It goes into battle with the Audi A3 Saloon.
It's worth noting that the new Mercedes A-Class Saloon is not the same car as that revealed earlier this year at Auto China in Beijing. That was called the A-Class L Sedan and, as the name suggests, it has a longer wheelbase. It was designed exclusively for the Chinese market. The new 'normal' wheelbase version pictured here will be manufactured in Mexico and Germany.
Style-wise, we reckon the A-Class Saloon has its hatchback sibling licked, though it shares its nose with the five-door A-Class and has more than a hint of baby-CLS. It's more than just a pretty face, though, as Mercedes states that the A-Class Saloon has the lowest aerodynamic drag figure of any production vehicle in the world (its coefficient of drag is quoted as 0.22, though presumably that's not for a version with wide low-profile tyres and 19-inch alloys). Why should you care? Well, less drag means better fuel economy, lower emissions, a higher top speed and lower noise levels.
As with the new A-Class hatch, the impressiveness of the interior of the A-Class Saloon will depend on which of the three MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment systems are fitted. The most basic has two seven-inch displays; there's another with one seven-inch and one 10.25-inch screen; and the daddy, called Widescreen Cockpit, has two 10.25-inch displays. Drivers can use the 'Hey Mercedes' speech recognition system, a touchscreen interface, the touchpad in the centre console or touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel to control it all.
Realising that the old CLA compromised on practicality, Mercedes has made an effort to make the A-Class Saloon a little more accommodating in the rear and boot. It claims that access to the back seats is easy and that room for shoulders, elbows and heads back there is above average. The boot holds 420 litres of luggage and the opening to it looks impressively big.
Details of just two engines have been released. The A 200 Saloon uses the same turbocharged 1.33-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, making 163hp and 250Nm of torque, as the A 200 hatch. It's paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic and powers the front wheels. Bests of 5.2 litres/100km and 119g/km are quoted for fuel consumption and emissions. The A 180 d Saloon shares its 1.5-litre turbodiesel with the A 180 d hatch, again using a seven-speed auto. Peak outputs are 116hp and 260Nm, while emissions and fuel consumption are as low as 107g/km and 4.0 litres/100km respectively.
More powerful versions of the A-Class Saloon, those with 4Matic four-wheel drive, optional adaptive damping or larger alloy wheels get a more sophisticated rear axle.
Mercedes is going large with active safety and driver assistance for the A-Class Saloon. As standard it gets Active Brake Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist, while the Driving Assistance Package includes Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Emergency Stop Assist and Active Lane Change Assist among other things, with improved camera and radar systems allowing the car to 'see' up to 500 metres ahead according to Mercedes.
The Mercedes A-Class Saloon makes its world debut at the Paris Motor Show later this year.