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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - A-class

Benz appeals to tech heads with new A-Class

Class action: The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is expected to be one of the most technology-laden vehicles in the premium small-car class when it launches this year thanks to the inclusion of the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX).

Technology a strong selling point for new-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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Mercedes-Benz logo10 Jan 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in LAS VEGAS

DAIMLER AG member of the board of management for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development Ola Kallenius says the new-generation A-Class hatchback will hold more appeal to a younger demographic thanks to revisions in styling and an uplift in in-cabin technology.

The fourth-generation premium small car will also be the first vehicle to use the car-maker’s new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system when it lands in Australian showrooms in the third quarter of 2018, bucking the trend of introducing new technologies in flagship models such as the S-Class sedan.

Speaking to Australian journalists at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Mr Kallenius said the younger audience of the A-Class meant it made sense to usher in the technology in Mercedes’ entry-level passenger car.

“Not necessarily a deliberate decision, but the new-generation A-Class is the one that we have the youngest customer group, so we thought, especially for a user experience like this that almost has gaming-like features in terms of its performance and its graphics, that it would be a good place to show the technology,” he said.

“And then of course we will proliferate this very quickly throughout our whole products.”

However, Mr Kallenius revealed that MBUX would not be standard across the new A-Class range, but even base variants would be equipped with at least a smartphone-mirroring-capable infotainment unit.

“So if you buy the option that is higher, you get all of it,” he said.

“We will have an entry-level system, and then you will have three or four layers where you can add content to that, but even the entry-level system will … have integration of (Apple) CarPlay and Android Auto.”

Powering the MBUX will be specifications often seen on gaming-orientated PCs or high-end smartphones including a six-core central processing unit, 8GB RAM and a graphics card sourced from component-maker Nvidia.

However, Mr Kallenius said as software is updated and technology moves on, ageing hardware can get left behind and lose support from developers, a problem Mercedes has overcome by using top-shelf components.

“What you have to do is, on the hardware side, once you introduce something, is you go for the top-of-the-line (parts),” he said.

“And I would say it’s unusual that in the premium compact segment to go for a two times 10.0-inch HD (high-definition) screen – it just doesn’t exist, it is not something you would usually do in that segment.

“And then eventually, at some point, software you update all the time and hardware maybe you go for a … seven-year lifecycle roughly.

“You don’t throw away your TV at home every year as well, so there is some parallel thinking there that happens on the consumer side.”

Set for a public unveiling later this month at an event in Amsterdam, Mercedes has revealed little about its new small car, but it is expected the new-generation Australian range will largely mirror the existing line-up consisting of the petrol-powered A180, A200 and A250.

The diesel A-Class could also be retained, but a range-topping AMG-fettled A45 replacement is already locked in as well as a less-manic, new-to-the-range A35 warm hatch variant – both powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

Mr Kallenius would not be drawn on more details, but said to expect the usual improvements from a new-generation update.

“(The new A-Class will be) fun to drive, sporty looks, but also functional,” he said.

“So the A-Class kind of takes a step up, but more about that (at the unveiling) in Amsterdam in a month’s time.”

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