The New Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Top-of-the-line features help the “Baby Benz” grow up

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During CES in January, we had the opportunity to ride in a camouflaged 2018 A-Class to demo MBUX—the brand’s home-grown virtual assistant and large screen user interface that’s optimized for all of the in-car scenarios you can imagine. MBUX is the brain of the vehicle and last Friday night in Amsterdam we got to see the rest of it. This, the fourth generation of the brand’s most affordable model, is (for the time being) the most technologically sophisticated in their line-up. The exterior styling is sleek and sporty, but still elegant and the interior detailing is on par with the higher-end C and E classes.

While the exterior design of the new A-Class is an exercise in evolving the car’s refinement without reducing its sportiness, the interior design is more revolution than evolution. MBUX learns your behavior and presents a home-screen of “suggestions” based on the relationship between your usage contextually relevant factors. In other words, if you always call your best friend during the Wednesday evening commute, then on Wednesday when you get out of work and in to the car, a shortcut to that phone call is the first thing you see. Factors like time, day, location and more will reorganize the suggestions for calls, entertainment and navigation. Meanwhile, all of this is on a giant widescreen like we’ve seen in the high-end S and E classes for a while now. But in the A, the screen is no longer set under an old-school overhang originally designed to shade instrument dials—it’s free-standing in the dash, which is low and symmetrical, evenly spanning the full width of the car and offering a bigger and brighter view of the world outside. Other interior features like climate-controlled and massage-enabled seats narrow the gap between the brand’s highest and lowest end vehicles.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be available in Europe and other markets starting this spring. While it’s pretty clear (though unfortunate) that the five-door hatchback version shown here and in the slideshow above won’t make it to the USA, lots of rumors suggest there will be a North American version of this remarkable entry-level car in the not-too-distant future.

Images courtesy of Mercedes-Benz