Will Mercedes get its next small sedan right? The tasteful proportions and upmarket interior of the long-wheelbase A-Class L Sedan (specific to the Chinese market), offer a good preview of Benz’s next 4-door compact sedan.
Given our foreign correspondent Andrew Frankel’s mixed, but mostly positive, feedback on the 4th-generation A-Class premium compact hatchback (expected to be introduced in South Africa in the 3rd quarter of 2018), the successor to the 1st-generation CLA promises to be a far more resolved product than the current car.
Reports suggest the A-Class Sedan will be one of several products derived from the A-Class platform, including the B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, the GLA… as well as a rumoured GLB compact SUV/crossover! Whether there could be a viable business case to introduce BOTH the CLA and A-Class Sedan in South Africa remains to be seen, as neither the CLA nor Audi A3 Sedan has been particularly popular in the local market... at least compared with their hatchback counterparts.
LED technology has facilitated the installation of compact, slimline headlamp clusters; they certainly emphasise the diamond grille.
The first generation CLA has been widely criticised for its overly firm ride, cramped rear quarters and marginal build quality (at least by Benz’s lofty standards), but fortunately, the A-Class L Sedan won’t be burdened by a lack of aft leg- and headroom. That’s because the newcomer has much gentler-sloping C-pillars and a 60-mm longer wheelbase than the new A-Class (to incorporate longer rear doors and, consequently, larger footwells) ostensibly for added aft passenger comfort as well as ease of ingress/exit.
Apart from its elongated rear doors, the A-Class L Sedan provides a strong indication of what the new model will look like if and when it goes on sale in South Africa. The only difference is that the version we’ll get/could get will be 60 mm shorter than the L Sedan; its overall length will be approximately 4.6 metres, which is notably longer than the A3 Sedan (which is 4 458 mm) and not far off the current-generation C-Class business class sedan (come to think of it!), although the Benz’s claimed boot capacity is a little less than the aforementioned Audi's (420 versus 425 litres).
The proportions of the A-Class L Sedan are pleasing to the eye. The longer rear doors accentuate the stubby boot section, though.
Inside, the A-Class L Sedan features the expansive stepped dashboard and a 10.25-inch Mercedes-Benz User Experience-enhanced touchscreen infotainment system, plus a quintet of turbine-style metallic air vents (a trio of which are below the central display), as the hatchback. It goes without saying that the interior shown in the car at the Beijing Show is the smartest incarnation of the A-Class’ interior.
The car’s ride quality will depend on a number of factors, including trim-line-specific suspension tuning, but we expect that, given the luxurious appointment of the sedan, a multi-link rear suspension will be offered over the torsion-beam setups of entry-level A-Classes.
We belive the likely South African line-up (if the model's introduction does take place around the middle of 2019) will include A200 and A250 1.3- and 2.0-litre turbopetrol derivatives equipped with 7-speed dual-clutch transmissions, with A200d and A220d turbodiesels available at a later date. It is unclear whether the A-Class Sedan will get A35 and A45 AMG versions; they'd certainly be in the pipeline for the hatchback and CLA ranges...