Once Again, Canada Gets a Mercedes-Benz the Americans Can't Have

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
once again canada gets a mercedes benz the americans can t have

There’s more to living in Canada than just higher taxes, polar bear incursions, and brutally cold weather. For some reason, denizens of the Great White North are allowed to enjoy more choice at the bottom of the Mercedes-Benz model range.

For example, Americans can be forgiven if they weren’t aware of the B-Class Electric Drive, a low-volume EV hatchback that bit the dust late last year. MB sold just 744 of them in the U.S. in 2017. Meanwhile, Canadians can still walk into their local dealer and sign on for a 2018 B250, the conventional variant powered by the CLA-Class’ turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

The EV model never made its way north of the border, while the conventional model never made its way south of the 49th Parallel.

On Friday, the automaker pulled the wraps almost all of the way off its new A-Class — a more refined front-drive entry-level model making its first foray into the North American market. Designed to lure buyers who wouldn’t otherwise have considered the brand, the A-Class will spawn a five-door and sedan variant in Europe, while American buyers can expect only the four-door. And Canada? Well, the country that really hates choice in wireless carriers and dairy products somehow gets the five-door, too.

“Our U.S. colleagues have already confirmed that they will only sell the sedan version of the A-Class,” said Brian D. Fulton, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada, on Friday. “Both hatchback and sedan versions will be available in Canada; we will share more information about the sedan later this year.”

Despite the public’s increasing love for trucks and SUVs, a trend that’s just as strong north of the border as south, Canadian car buyers still retain a desire for small, entry-level hatchbacks. Why else would Nissan frustrate TTAC’s Chris Tonn by offering the Micra in that market, but not the U.S.?

With the shark-nosed A-Class, the brand hopes it can attract buyers with a tony badge and an interior Daimler AG chief design officer Gorden Wagener calls “modern luxury at a level previously unattained in this class.”

So far, the sedan variant remains under wraps, but the five-door’s appearance is locked into place. In the Canadian market, the A-Class Hatchback holds 13.1 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats. Up front, the A250 (apparently, in both bodystyles) carries a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Available 4Matic all-wheel drive can be had for extra greenbacks (or loonies).

17-inch wheels come standard on the A-Class, with 18-inchers optional. The car’s rear axle is mounted on a subframe that further isolates the body from road vibrations via rubber bushings. Inside, the model’s claim to fame is a dual-screen system that dominates the dash. These screens, offered in 7.0 or 10.25-inch versions, offer users access to the automaker’s new MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system. There’s too many connectivity features to list; suffice it to say Mercedes-Benz is making a serious play for the plugged-in Millennial market.

The 2019 A-Class arrives in both the United States and Canada late this year. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it’s expected the model’s MSRP will undercut that of the CLA (and in Canada, the B-Class).

[Images: Daimler AG]

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  • Ernest Ernest on Feb 05, 2018

    I get the impression a lot of you guys are younger and live in urban areas. Not a bad thing, mind you, but the lens you're looking through may not accurately reflect the overall market. The little urban commuter is a niche market. A luxury urban commuter is a niche within a niche.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Feb 05, 2018

    Can it be true, a Mercedes Benz that doesn't make me want to unload my guts all over the pavement? I'm surprised. The other day I saw the first BMW in about a decade that looked pretty neat. Maybe styling trends are shifting for the big Germans.

  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.
  • Analoggrotto I refuse to comment until Tassos comments.