2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class First Drive

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Traditionally, Mercedes-Benz‘s attempts at building entry-luxury cars have been middling at best. The CLA, its most recent indiscretion, came with a frustrating dual-clutch transmission and a plasticky interior. But Mercedes‘ suboptimal reputation might soon change with its A-Class sedan.

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Intended to be Mercedes’ newest bargain-basement model and slotting beneath the CLA, the A-Class sedan is a revelation in the democratization of luxury. The styling borrows heavily from the elite CLS—with few straight lines or sharp corners, a short rear overhang, and slim headlights. Although it’s attractive from some angles, from others it looks a little dull. To a lot of buyers, though, such design cues will probably be less important than the three-pointed star on the grille.

Inside, the A-Class does a surprisingly good impression of a much more expensive car. From the dual-screen display to the multifunction steering wheel and the turbine-inspired air vents, it legitimately looks the part. The materials aren’t as nice as you’d find in an S-Class, but for around $30,000, that’s expected. The good news is, unlike some materials in the CLA, the A-Class doesn’t feel built to price. Everything you touch feels high quality—especially considering the price—and the interior design really does look great.

Mercedes also packed an impressive number of features into its least expensive model. LED headlights, a panoramic glass roof, 17-inch wheels, a multifunction steering wheel, push-button start, and dual 7.0-inch displays, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, come standard. But buyers willing to spend more will have the option of adding features such as 3.3-inch larger screens, navigation, a driver assistance package, a premium Burmester sound system, heated and ventilated seats, larger wheels, and a head-up display.

Tick all those boxes, however, and that relatively affordable base price can balloon to near-E-Class levels. U.S. pricing hasn’t been finalized yet, but our tester was likely pushing $50,000.

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