The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is its brand’s new entry-level model, and provides a preview of what we can expect from the next-generation versions of Mercedes’ current entry points, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class (which will continue to be sold unchanged this year). And what we can expect are greatly improved vehicles, because the A-Class is substantially better to drive, has a far more stylish and well-made interior and offers an unmatched array of available driver-assistance features borrowed from the range-topping 2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The new A-Class is also the first Mercedes to get the new MBUX tech interface. Replacing the old COMAND system, it provides a multitude of ways to control the same basic functions. If you want to use the center console touchpad, great. If you prefer the new touchscreen or Alexalike natural voice recognition commands, go for it. We think MBUX is an improvement, and for now, the A-Class is the only Benz to come with it.
Available only as an A 220, this 4-door sedan may seem small (and it is, as the back seat and trunk attest) and its engine output modest (188 horsepower, 221 lb-ft), but this is a genuine luxury car that just happens to be compact. That output is actually more than enough; plus, it should generate excellent fuel economy and a well-balanced and refined driving experience. We’re very impressed, both with what the A-Class provides as an entry-level luxury sedan, and with what it previews for future Mercedes.
What’s New for 2019?
The A-Class Sedan is an all-new model.
What We Like
A high-class cabin; ample standard features; an unmatched array of available driver-assistance features; a refined driving experience; a strong and efficient engine; classy good looks
What We Don’t
A smallish back seat and trunk; a potentially firm ride with run-flat tires
The only A-Class model is the A 220, which features a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is standard along with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is an option, as indicated by the name A 220 4Matic.
Fuel economy data was not available at the time of this writing, but we would estimate figures of 30 miles per gallon combined, with 40 mpg on the highway. 4Matic will likely be 2 mpg lower.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is available only as a sedan and with only one model: the A 220. The A 220 4Matic is only differentiated by its standard AWD system.
Standard equipment is generous. It includes 17-inch wheels, run-flat tires, a panoramic sunroof, automatic LED headlights, forward-collision warning, driver-inattention warning, automatic brake hold, a backup camera, automatic wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power front seats, driver memory settings, MB-Tex simulated leather upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats and a rear center armrest. Technology features include the MBUX interface (7-in digital instrument panel, 7-in infotainment touchscreen, center console touch controller, steering-wheel touch controllers and natural-speed-recognition voice commands), three USB-C ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Mercedes did not specify the base sound system at the time of this writing.
Options are plentiful, available within packages and as stand-alone items.
The Premium package adds proximity entry and push-button start, blind spot monitoring, auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, power-folding mirrors and upgraded MBUX with dual 10.25-in screens.
The Driver Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control with active steering assist and GPS input, automatic emergency braking, lane-change assistance, lane-keep assist, enhanced blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic warning. The Parking Assistance package adds surround-view parking cameras and an automated parking system.
The Multimedia package adds in-car navigation with augmented video (which adds directional signs to a live video feed from the front of the car). The Exterior Lighting package adds active high beams and adaptive headlights. The Night package adds a variety of black exterior trim bits. The AMG Line package adds upgraded brakes, a lowered suspension and special styling details, including a different "diamond-block" grille.
Options include 18- and 19-in wheels, summer nonrun-flat tires, leather upholstery, rear-side airbags, 64-color ambient lighting, wireless smartphone charging, satellite radio and a Burmester sound system.
Even the most basic Mercedes A 220 comes standard with seven airbags (front, front-side, side-curtain and driver’s knee), stability and traction control, forward-collision warning, driver-inattention warning, a backup camera and Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call services. Rear-side airbags are a stand-alone option, and blind spot monitoring is included in the Premium package.
The Driver Assistance package can then add the most comprehensive and advanced array of driver aids available on the market. These include full-speed automatic emergency braking, evasive-steering assistance, lane-change assistance, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, enhanced blind spot monitoring (adds steering input to the more basic system), rear cross-traffic warning and adaptive cruise control with active steering assist and GPS input (which uses the navigation system to anticipate corners ahead and slow down accordingly). Although many of these features are available elsewhere, few are as well-executed.
Behind the Wheel
The new A-Class is a considerably more refined, and yes, luxurious car than Mercedes’ other entry-level car, the CLA. That car’s unresponsive transmission, low-speed jerkiness and mushy throttle response are not present in the A-Class. These improvements alone should make it easy to choose between the A-Class and the CLA-Class at a Mercedes dealership this year.
And despite having less power than the CLA, the A 220’s 188-hp turbocharged engine is a torque-rich, energetic little power plant that will even provide an enthusiastic exhaust bwap during aggressive acceleration. We certainly had no complaints about its power during our test drive. Better still, we expect its fuel economy to better than that of the already-thrifty CLA.
Handling is poised and confidence-inspiring, but the A 220 isn’t quite a sport sedan, and its steering in particular lacks feedback despite being appropriately and consistently weighted. Instead, the A-Class demonstrates a good balance between isolation and driver involvement. With the larger wheel and regular tire upgrade, it also paradoxically provides a surprisingly cushy ride. We doubt this would be the case with the standard run-flat tires, as they cause a crashy, unpleasant ride in the CLA and the GLA.
The interior also shows massive improvement in terms of quality, design and general luxurious ambiance over those current Mercedes entry-level cars. It’s a cool environment, especially with the available 64-color ambient lighting and two-tone interior combinations. The new MBUX interface deserves special attention. Standard on every A-Class, it essentially provides you four different ways to accomplish most tasks: a touchscreen, a center-console touch pad, steering-wheel miniature touch pads and natural-voice-recognition commands (think Siri or Amazon Alexa). This may seem redundant or overwhelming, but in fact, it allows you to choose the method of control you prefer for any given task. It generally works quite well.
Space in the A-Class is compact, which should be expected, as this is a compact car. A 6-foot-tall person probably can’t fit behind another, and rear-facing child seats might be a tight squeeze. Rear headroom is considerably better than in the CLA, however, and legroom is a smidge better, too. Trunk space is likely less, but official figures weren’t available at the time of this writing.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Audi A3 — This is the closet A-Class comparison. Like the A-Class, the A3 feels like a proper luxury car, albeit shrunken down to compact size. It offers higher-performance variants (S3 and RS 3) and a convertible.
2019 Audi A4 — Though it starts at a higher price, the A4 is also a bit bigger and available with the same sort of advanced driver-assistance features you can get on the A-Class (but not the A3).
2019 Volvo S60 — The handsome, completely redesigned S60 is another new kid on the block. Like the A4, it starts at a higher price but offers more space. Its safety credentials rival the A 220’s.
Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class — The current-generation C-Class should now be available as used and certified pre-owned choices. We would consider them, as they offer more space, stronger performance and many of the same features.
We recommend the Premium package for the bigger MBUX displays and its other helpful extras, and would strongly suggest the Driver Assistance package — its abundance of well-executed driver-assistance features will facilitate your drive and can legitimately save lives or, at the very least, prevent bumper damage. Finally, we would also test-drive cars with and without run-flat tires, and then aim for the biggest bumps you can find.