Mercedes-Benz A-Class to Become World's Most Aerodynamic Production Vehicle

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While the rest of the world will be able to enjoy the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback, the United States is patiently waiting for the sedan. Since Americans won’t be privy to the liftback model, it’s to be four doors or nothing.

This is our first look at the model without camouflage and, while it resembles the A-Class hatchback to a large extent, there are some aspects unique to the sedan. The most evident change will be the rear end but, as the teaser image doesn’t show that portion of the car, we’re left analyzing the front bumper — which scales down the oversized air inlets and ditches the slats.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the changes weren’t entirely aesthetic. It claims the vehicle’s shape results in a drag coefficient of only 0.22. That beats the outgoing CLA Coupe (along with the BMW 5 Series) as the most aerodynamic production car in the world.

It likely explains the smaller inlets and more rounded front end. The ultra-aerodynamic CLA that boasts the lowest drag coefficient is the front-drive “BlueEFFICIENCY Edition,” and it shares a similar styling theme. That means the A-Class we’re seeing in the wind tunnel might not be representative of what you’ll typically see on the streets. In fact, when the long-wheelbase version of the sedan was showcased in China, the front end was much harder to distinguish from the hatchback.

There’s a fair chance we won’t even see the model outfitted for this level of efficiency in the United States. Mercedes’ didn’t say so explicitly, but we noticed news of the sedan’s slippery bodywork didn’t make it to the U.S. media site. Instead, we may have something identical to the Chinese market’s long-wheelbase variant. Just a little stumpier.

Still, it is impressive that Daimler managed to pull this off again. The model uses an “extensive sealing concept” to keep air from getting in through all the nooks and crannies between the headlamps, as well as almost complete panelling of the underbody — which includes the engine bay, main floor pan, parts of the rear axle, and the diffuser.

The front and rear wheel spoilers have likewise been optimized to route the air around the wheels as efficiently as possible. However, any air that does come into contact with them will be treated to further smoothening, as both have been fine-tuned to promote drag reduction. There’s also a shutter system behind the radiator grille that minimizes airflow through the engine bay that will be available in some markets.

Will the United States be one of them? Daimler introduced a gas-burning variant of the formerly diesel BlueEFFICIENCY CLA, but it has typically kept its smallest engines out of the American market no matter what type of fuel they burn. We’re falling on the “no” side of the fence at the moment, but we could end up being surprised.

The streamlined A-Class sedan will launch at the end of 2018, with production commencing in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and Rastatt, Germany.

[Images: Daimler]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Spike_in_Brisbane Spike_in_Brisbane on Jul 24, 2018

    I never understood the American aversion to hatchbacks. I have heard all the arguments against them: lack of security for luggage, extra noise from the back axle etc. but the same arguments apply to CUVs which you Americans are buying in droves. I don't get it.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jul 25, 2018

      And the manufacturers are being sneaky about hatchbacks as well. If you go to the Kia USA site the Stinger is listed under "sedans". Personally one of the reasons I want to check out the current Regal and the Stinger is because they are actually hatchbacks. The mail slot trunk openings on current sedans are very annoying.

  • ReSa ReSa on Jul 25, 2018

    This.

  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.
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