New Mercedes-Benz a-Class to be more focused on the driver, more of a prototype ride

The new Mercedes A-Class, which will be revealed ahead of its first public appearance at the Geneva motor show in March, the departure from today’s model by the reception of two different sets of suspension, according to Mercedes ‘ boss of vehicle compact test of Jochen Eck.

The two games use the same set of MacPherson struts at the front, even if they differ radically on the rear, with the lower-end models are configured to run a new torsion beam arrangement while the high-end models sport a revised version of the multi-link suspension first seen on the outgoing third-generation of the class.

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Eck, said: “we knew we had to improve the ride. The entire class has passed since we launched the old model. We spent a lot of time tuning the bands and the kinematical properties of the two systems to get the result we were looking for. The addition of torsional rigidity of the structure of the body helps a lot, too.”

This rigidity also helps to improve the noise, vibration and harshness in the Class, with more soundproofing foam in the body structure, according to Eck. He said that, although the predecessor NVH “was not too bad at launch”, the competition has upped its game.

The new A-Class electro-mechanical steering continues to offer a fixed-rate or variable ratio depending on the model chosen, but the automaker has made a few changes, including a repositioning of the shelf so that it is now sitting further back in the chassis. Eck, said: “It is still fairly light overall weight and fairly direct in comparison to the competition, but there are certainly more feedback and communication than before. I think that fans of drivers like her. There is more on the center of the accuracy, but it should not be at the expense of the off-center sharpness.”

Mercedes has also worked on the improvement of the visibility of the Class, with Eck and acknowledging that it was “a problem” with the predecessor. “The pillars are now thinner and the rear side windows are also larger,” said Ek. “There are a lot better vision to the rear.”

The redesign of Class A has increased in length, including a 30mm increase in the wheelbase, while the interior is similar to wide-screen cockpit to that found in the S-Class, with the most expensive option with the help of two 10.3 displays. It will also feature touch infotainment and navigation, a first for Mercedes.

The new Class will adopt a number of driving aids seen top of the range Mercedes, including a blind spot of the wizard, referred to the Output of the Assist, and an enhanced version of the current model of Park Assist, with 360deg of the camera.

There will be five variants of petrol and two models of performance, bearing the badge of the A35, and A45, and four diesel options.

A first round in the new Class:

For our first pass in the new Class, we are at the entry-level diesel variant, the 1.5-litre A160d, on the public highway in the vicinity of Arvidsjaur in the north of Sweden, where the Mercedes was occupied by cold-weather testing of its entry-level model.

Even if we have only the experience of the new Mercedes from the passenger seat, it certainly feels smoother and more controlled than its predecessor over rough roads, even with the torsion beam set-up and simple standard assay levels – the cheaper of the two suspension set-ups.

There is a greater absorption of the shocks of the road and less vertical movement over bumps, particularly at the rear.

As well as improvements in comfort, noise, vibration and harshness levels are also better, and the visibility seems to be superior, although we will not know with certainty until we are behind the wheel of next year.

Eck, as the designated driver, said: “The previous model was good, but I think we have managed to move the game. It is bigger, you can say it now meets the expectations of a Mercedes better than ever.”

Next April, we should be able to verify this for ourselves, but for the moment, it seems that the new A-Class is ready to replicate the sales success of its predecessor.

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