A new variant of the compact-class family – in the guise of the A-Class L Saloon – will already be celebrating its premiere at Auto China (25 April to 4 May 2018) in Beijing. The notchback model being presented there features a 6 cm longer wheelbase (2789 instead of 2729 mm) and is a variant developed solely for the Chinese market. This A-Class model is being produced exclusively at Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd (BBAC), a joint venture between Daimler and its Chinese partner BAIC Motor. The market launch in China is scheduled for the second half of 2018. A version of the saloon tailored to the needs of customers outside China will likewise launch in the second half of the year.
With the latest design language characterised by clear structures and sensual surfaces, the high level of safety thanks to the innovative driving assistance systems featuring S-Class functions and the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, the Chinese A-Class L Saloon boasts all of the virtues of the new compact-class family from Mercedes-Benz. One highlight is the intelligent voice control of the MBUX system with natural speech recognition: it is proficient in various Chinese dialects, including Sichuanese and Cantonese.
In 2017 China was once again the largest sales market for Mercedes-Benz. Customers in the Middle Kingdom took delivery of around 590,000 vehicles last year, more than ever in a single year (+25.9%). In total, around 430,000 units were produced locally in 2017, which corresponds to more than two-thirds of the total sales volume in China.
More than six million compact models have already been delivered to customers in around 170 markets. Following the great success of the last compact-class generation – Mercedes-Benz sold more than 620,000 compact vehicles globally in 2017 alone – currently the company is gradually extending the new compact-car family to eight members. The A-Class Hatchback and the Chinese variant of the A-Class Saloon are the first two representatives of the new generation.
About the Chinese A-Class L Saloon
The A-Class L Saloon also reflects the purist, surface-accentuating design of the latest Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of Sensual Purity. The compact saloon has very short overhangs at front and rear, which, in combination with the side feature line, reinforces the sporty image. As on the hatchback model, the front end design looks very progressive. Contributing to this impression are the low, drawn-out bonnet, flat headlamps with chrome elements, and torch-like daytime driving lights – plus the diamond radiator grille with single louvre, chrome pins, and central star. There is a choice of Sedan and Sport Sedan versions, with the latter featuring powerdomes on the bonnet.
The greenhouse, which sits far back, and the compact rear end emphasise the sportiness of the vehicle. The wheels (in sizes 16 to 19 inches) fit flush in the wheel arches, which, like the strongly pronounced shoulders in the rear area, gives the vehicle a square stance on the road.
The two-piece tail lights emphasise the width. The reflectors have been repositioned lower down in the bumper to allow the tail lights to benefit from a particularly flat design. Rose gold is an exclusive paint finish planned for the Chinese market.
As in the hatchback model, the interior is a completely new departure, revolutionising the compact class from the inside with a new feeling of spaciousness. The interior architecture along with the displays and controls is an avant-garde USP in this segment. For the first time a cowl above the cockpit has been completely dispensed with. As a result, the wing-shaped main body of the dashboard with its trim level extends from one front door to the other with no visual discontinuity.
Below this main body is a low-lying section, the so-called wing. The wing appears to float, as there are no connections or shape transitions to the surrounding area. The ambience lighting with up to 64 colours reinforces this effect and is a new interior experience also for Chinese customers. The wing also forms the basis for the turbine-look air vents, which are embedded in trim, and the completely free-standing widescreen display.
On board is the MBUX multimedia system – Mercedes-Benz User Experience – with unique learning abilities thanks to artificial intelligence. Of course, the popular WeChatMyCar app is integrated. MBUX makes it possible for the first time for two or more users to connect simultaneously to the system. The intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition is proficient in various Chinese dialects, including Sichuanese and Cantonese. Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to provide navigation display featuring augmented reality technology on the Chinese market.
When developing the Chinese A-Class L Saloon (length/width/height: 4609/1796/1460 mm) a focal point was the kneeroom for rear passengers. As a result, at 2789 mm, the wheelbase is 60 mm longer than in the hatchback model (2729 mm). The boot has a capacity of 420 litres.
At the market launch, the A-Class L Saloon will be available in China with the state-of-the-art all-aluminium four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 1.33 litres with power outputs of 100 and 120 kW (with cylinder shut-off); following later will be the 2-litre four-cylinder engine with CONICSHAPE trumpet honing and CAMTRONIC variable valve timing. In China, the latter engine has an output of 140 kW. The 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission comes as standard.
Of course on the Chinese market the A-Class L Saloon also boasts the very latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support, giving it the highest level of active safety in this segment with functions adopted from the S-Class.