New Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan aims for attainable luxury

Mercedes-Benz is revamping the lower rungs of its lineup with new versions of its compact A-Class. A hatchback model aimed primarily at the European market debuted at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show in March, and now a sedan version is making its debut at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show. While the version you see here is Chinese-spec, expect the Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan to make its way to the United States eventually.

For now, Mercedes is only showing the A-Class L version of the sedan. “L” stands for “long wheelbase,” an option that’s common in China. The A-Class L has a wheelbase stretched 6.0 centimeters (2.3 inches), and will be sold only in China. But an upcoming standard-wheelbase version will likely be sold in the U.S. as the new entry-level Mercedes (excluding the Metris van), according to Car and Driver, allowing the CLA-Class to move upmarket.

Aside from the presence of a trunk, everything about the A-Class sedan is virtually identical to the hatchback model unveiled in Geneva. That includes the new MBUX infotainment system (short for Mercedes-Benz User Experience), which features a screen setup closer to that of larger Mercedes models, and a more sophisticated voice-recognition system.

In China, the A-Class sedan will launch with a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 163 horsepower. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 187 hp will arrive later. Both engines will be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. As before, the A-Class is based on a front-wheel drive platform, and Mercedes will likely offer all-wheel drive as an option.

The U.S. powertrain lineup will be revealed at a later date, as will details on high-performance AMG models. The new AMG A-Class has a lot to live up to, as the outgoing AMG A45 (as well as its CLA45 and GLA45 siblings) boasts a titanic 375 horsepower. In keeping with its current product cadence, Mercedes will likely offer both a direct replacement for the AMG A45 and a less-powerful AMG model below it.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan will launch in China during the second half of this year, and we should see a version aimed at other markets around that time as well. Meanwhile, Mercedes is also using the 2018 Beijing Auto Show to debut a very different kind of vehicle: The ultra-glitzy Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury electric SUV concept.

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