2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Like the CLA, but Less Awkward

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2019 mercedes benz a class like the cla but less awkward

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.

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.

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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  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Jul 26, 2018

    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.

  • Maymar Maymar on Jul 26, 2018

    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.

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.