By on July 26, 2018

Image: Daimler AG

Listen up, Millennials. Don’t believe this small crossover stuff you’re hearing from the diverse and sexy members of your social circle. Mercedes-Benz says you don’t need one to feel fulfilled. That’s right, Mercedes-Benz — the brand that seems unattainable yet offers a small, $33,100 (minus destination) sedan it calls a coupe that kinda looks too cab-forward.

Maybe you’re interested in a small M-B sedan that actually looks the part? Oh hey, look what we have here! Why don’t you put down that acoustic guitar, get down from those stone front steps, and take it for a spin? Watch your knit cap getting in the door.

Surely there’s a good reason why Mercedes-Benz debuted the new A-Class in Brooklyn. The powers that be no doubt had visions of social media posts featuring images of the 2019 A 220 parked, front wheels hard over, with the Williamsburg Bridge looming in the background. Perhaps with strangely affluent hipsters going past on bikes, dark denim pant cuffs rolled up three to four inches.

Image: Daimler AG

As the brand’s new entry point in the U.S., the A-Class has Millennial buyers square in its sights. Basically, the same age group targeted by the CLA when it first appeared on these shores. This vehicle, however, arrives without a reputation of being a “fake Mercedes”with an unsatisfying driving experience.

Available with either front-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel grip, the A-Class’ powertrain is solitary — at least for now. A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four generates 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, making it the weakest of the automaker’s 2.0L family. The only transmission on offer is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. At every corner, you’ll find 17- to 19-inch wheels.

Riding atop a second-generation version of the platform underpinning the existing CLA, the A 220 seeks to woo buyers with a low price point, luxurious and eye-catching interior, copious standard or available tech (read more about that here), and more pleasing proportions. Gone is the awkwardness instilled in the CLA’s design — the feeling that the cabin is too long for the hood. In its place is a slippery shape with a 0.22 drag coefficient.

Image: Daimler AG

Words like “muscular” and “sensual” appear in the automaker’s marketing copy. These are things a person aspires to be.

As for that price, M-B isn’t talking. Automotive News, among other outlets, points to an entry MSRP in the low $30k range. Given that the CLA starts at just over $33k, the A-Class would need to put at least a couple grand between it and its front-drive sibling to really make a splash. After all, these are first-time M-B buyers the automaker’s after, and having an attractive number to place on buses, billboards, and YouTube ads is key.

The CLA showed that M-B can sell a small, front-drive sedan to Americans, and it remains bullish on that prospect. If having one is good, why not two? What American buyers will not get, however, is a hatchback version of this model, though Canadian customers get a chance to pick one up.

A-Class sedans begin showing up at Mercedes-Benz dealers late this year.

[Images: Daimler AG]

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40 Comments on “2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Like the CLA, but Less Awkward...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I like it. I don’t know why you would spend *more* to get a CLA-Class over this A-Class. Unless they’re going to redesign the CLA-Class, too.

    The only thing is that the pictures in the press release show a loaded-up version. And with such a price-sensitive car, I worry that the base price represents a stripper model that’s nowhere close to what we are seeing here. Then again…I haven’t read the press release.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    The base trim A class offers a torsion beam out back. At least a Corolla is honest about its lack of sportiness.

  • avatar

    I just rented a previous-iteration A-Class 5 door hatchback for several days of driving in Austria and Germany. The chassis behavior and the interior layout were very satisfactory. The car had three features that will not appear in the USA – an extremely pleasant 6 speed manual transmission, the 5 door hatch configuration, and an under-powered diesel. If the A-Class were offered here with the 2.0 turbo, the hatch, and a 6 speed manual – I would seriously consider it. Without the hatch and the 6 speed, it is not on my shopping list.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If Mercedes is smart, they do away with the CLA and just make this the entry-level sedan, and make the up-lux interior standard. It’ll sell.

  • avatar
    volvo

    I agree with what Kyree says. Another target demographic probably will be empty nesters who live in an area where anything larger than a Corolla is difficult to park, maneuver and is just not needed.

    I have been looking for a small luxury sedan and this might fit my needs.

    Earlier someone on this site suggested a Audi A3 to me. I looked and in the US there seems to be two variants (not trim level) of the Sedan. One 2L TSFI engine, one automatic transmission and either FWD or Quattro.

    In Europe and the UK there are 30 variants of the A3. Hatch, Sedan, Convertible. Each with choice of 5 engines (3 gas and 2 diesel) and either auto or stick with each engine. Each of these 30 come in a number of trim levels including the performance S trim.

    I recently rode the autobahn in an A3 1.5L TSFI with 6 speed manual transmission. Plenty of merge power and very stable at 200 KPH. Trip computer showed 5.6L/100KM = 43 MPG over several days of mixed city and autobahn driving.

    So why don’t we have these choices in the US. I don’t know but suspect that each of those 30 drivetrain variants would need to be US (read CARB) certified and Audi just sees that as too much work for the amount of sales they could get from each variant. I welcome another competitor into the small luxury market and hope that at a reasonable trim level the Mercedes A220 is less than 40K.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Other then the prestigious badge why would I want this over a Camry or Accord?

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Small size does it for me. Current Camry and Accord are just to large for my needs. If they made a Corolla or Civic with high trim level that would get my attention.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      You wouldn’t. “IF” I was in the market for a mid size FWD based sedan it would be Honda Accord all day long. The new design is gorgeous.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Rolling dumpster fire sitting on a platform having the rigidity of cow sh*t and interior quality, ride quality/balance and NVH far worse than a VW Golf.

    They can shove it up their own a$$.

    See my review of this when I had one out west back in August of 2016 that I ended up beating into oblivion by taking it off road for a jaunt after the HVAC and other systems were failing with all of 3,000 and some miles on it as a rental from SIXT.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      I can’t agree or disagree with you on this but do wonder how you were able to rent and drive a car that won’t be released until later this year.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s on the same chassis/platform as the CLA P-O-S.

        It has the same POS motor that is shared with Nissan.

        *The transmission is the worst automatic I’ve ever experienced in a modern vehicle, by a wide margin.

        And, I’ll amend my statement to say it will be even worse than the CLA given that car ramrod above just stated that the A Class has a rear torsion beam suspension, you know, like on an older Kia Rio, so f*ck Mercedes Benz.

        p.s. TTAC’s website FUBAR.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “The transmission is the worst automatic I’ve ever experienced in a modern vehicle, by a wide margin.”

          Have you driven a Ford Focus DCT, lately? For me, that was the worst, but I haven’t driven the M-B.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I was speaking in terms of truly conventional automatics.

            The Ford dual clutch PowerSh!t stutterstep trans is horrid, also, so I agree, it’s not conventional.

            The MB trans is all kinds of confused, and shifts in the ways of a true schizophrenic.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    It’s on the same chassis/platform as the CLA P-O-S.

    It has the same POS motor that is shared with Nissan.

    And, I’ll amend my statement to say it will be even worse than the CLA given that car ramrod above just stated that the A Class has a rear torsion beam suspension, you know, like on an older Kia Rio, so f*ck Mercedes Benz.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Go to the Mercedes leasing place (dealership) with your $33K, look at the CLA, then take that money and ask them to show you a bigger, nicer CPO Mercedes, buy that car.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Looks just like a CLA. Would of liked to see it compared to the CLA. But, really I’d prefer the hatch, especially if it really is smaller than the CLA.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Mercedes Canadian website claims 221 hp and a “sophisticated 4-link rear suspension” on the hatch. Which kind of looks like a Kia Rio.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      US website has it at the bottom of the “future vehicle” list. Size seems OK but it has a “glass roof” Just what a person needs in the sunny southwest US.

      Also I priced a current C series sedan and modestly equipped it comes out over 50K. If they do that with this new A series I also would pass on the badge. The basic electronic safety features that are standard on all Hondas going forward including the Civic add up to about a $3500 option on the MBZ C series.

      So I would have to agree that a CPO E series would be the way to go if you want the badge.

  • avatar

    I really wonder if the race to the bottom Mercedes is currently engaging in is going to hurt them big time down the line.

    There used to be a mystique about them, a “wow those are expensive,” at least in the US market where they didn’t sell their vans and other things. Now, it seems they’re most interested in the lower-end market share.

    They keep growing their discount segment. Think of the first discount car, the 190E – then look at this.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    Perfect way to woo Audi drivers: cheap, garbage FWD chassis made on the cheap in East Europe (at least for the European market, where are they made for the US?) with a shiny surface on the interior.

    The A-class still feels rickety and cheaply made deep down. And not just because it’s technically crap with its FWD chassis.

    Could be worse though: it could be the CLA which is even more for an even worse vehicle. Or a VW Group product.

    • 0 avatar
      ThomasSchiffer

      And you know this because you have experienced the new A-Klasse?

      The current model is remarkably well constructed and feels very reassuring in terms of quality and cabin materials. Almost every review in Europe has essentially praised the engines for power, refinement and fuel economy. The A-Klasse is better than the Golf, A1/A3 and more practical than a BMW 1er.

      Experience the vehicle first before you criticize it. The new A-Klasse is nothing like the CLA-Klasse, which isn’t the horrible car it is made out to be.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    The A Class sucks.

    Always has, always will. B Class too.

    Mercedes really shouldn’t exist below the C Class, and for Europe where they get wonderful environmental and tax garbage shoved down their throats and therefore have to drive 1L 3 cyl bread boxes, Mercedes should just introduce a lower end brand. You know just like every other automaker on earth with luxury brands. They could call it the Karl or something. And this one would be a hot way to launch it.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Jerome – that’s an AWESOME NAME for a new Mercedes Benz sh*tbox line, The KARL.

    LMAO.

  • avatar
    derekson

    This definitely seems nicer than the old CLA and like a real competitor for the A3, but this engine seems a little on the weak side when said A3 has 220 HP / 258 lb-ft in the Quattro model. And apparently in Europe they do sell an A250 with similar power so it’s a bit odd.

    I don’t know why they’re bothering with a new CLA in addition to this though.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Those of you questioning the existence of this car need to keep in mind that outside of your country the roads are narrower, the garages and the parking spaces are smaller and fuel is more expensive. An A-Klasse is a wonderful premium compact car for people who want a Mercedes-Benz but for whom a C-Klasse and anything above the C-Klasse is simply too big for whatever reasons.

    In my country many wealthy people who own an A-Klasse also have another premium car in their garage, perhaps a bigger car like an E-Klasse or S-Klasse. Typically they will take the smaller car into the city because it is simply easier to use and live with in our narrower and tighter urban environments. From my trip to Japan many years ago I remember seeing a lot of A- and B-Klasse Mercedes in Tokyo which are ideal for their very narrow streets.

    I do not comprehend the unjustified hate for this and similar small premium cars. Visit Europe and experience for yourself how difficult city life can be with an E-Klasse-sized car. And if you have not seen this car in real life and spent time examining it, you really should not be criticizing it. I have seen this car in person and I have sat in it and it really is a wonderful car to be in. I think it is worthy of the Mercedes badge. There is no shame in driving an A-Klasse or smaller premium car here. I drive a 2007 GL320 CDI 4Matic which does not fit in my garage; I park it on the street instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Well said. I truly don’t think anyone purposely makes seemingly ignorant comments intentionally; one really has to experience international travel to comprehend that reality.

      Personally I love small but tall cars (I’m a larger person). We’re in NYC this week, and I’m marveling at the NYPD Smart cars….

  • avatar
    volvo

    @ThomasSchiffer

    As per my earlier posts I agree with you. However please tell me what small premium car I can purchase in the US at this time? Perhaps the SL but I want to keep my price below $45K. The new A class may fit the bill but I will have to wait and see what the price is for a decently equipped model. Right now the top trim Civic seems to be the only one and that certainly is not a premium car.

    • 0 avatar
      ThomasSchiffer

      Unfortunately I do not know what other small premium cars are sold in your country. Is the Audi A1 or A3 on sale there? It is my understanding that BMW sells their 1er in your market, but only in the coupe/convertible body style and not the 3- and 5-door hatchback which in my country directly compete with the A-Klasse.

      I also do not know if the A-Klasse will be cross-shopped with a Civic or similarly-sized cars. It seems to me that the mindset and requirements of a Civic and A-Klasse buyer are different. There are also too many differences between them. As the article states the A-Klasse comes with a 7-DCT only and I assume the Civic is available with a manual transmission and automatic (or CVT?). That fact alone should limit the appeal of an A-Klasse with the crowd that prefers a manual transmission and the perceived sportiness and driving enjoyment it offers.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Would be nicer if they didn’t have that droopy-rear-end styling; A3s, Lexus ISs, some Volvos and Infinitis have better, sportier shapes, IMO.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    As a Millennial, I know there’s at least dozens of us who’d be most tempted to try and buy a new Benz if they could just lure Bruno Sacco out of retirement. At least this looks nicer than the CLA.


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