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]
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.
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- FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.
- Matzel I am hoping that Vee-Dub will improve the UX and offer additional color options for the 2024 Mk8.5 refresh for Canada. Until then, I'll be quite happy with my '21 GTI performance pack. It still puts a smile on my face going through the twisty bits.
- Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
- Iam65689044 Sometimes I'm glad the French don't sell in America. This is one of those times.
- SCE to AUX I was going to scoff, but the idea has some merit.The hard part would be keeping the weight and cost down. Even on the EPA cycle, this thing could probably get over 210 miles with that battery.But the cost - it's too tempting to bulk up the product for profits. What might start as a $22k car quickly becomes $30k.Resource-deprived people can't buy it then, anyway, and where will Kyle get the electricity to charge it in 2029 Los Angeles?