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Welcome to the new generation of Baby Benzes

It has been two decades since Mercedes-Benz launched the A-class globally, but that model has never been sold here. Indeed, Americans have had mass-market compact Mercedes models since only 2013, in the forms of the CLA and the GLA crossover, which are both spun from A-class bones. Now in its fourth generation, the alpha baby Benz is arriving on our shores for the first time—and for the first time anywhere as a sedan—potential tariffs and the supposed death throes of sedans be damned.

 

The new A-class sedan will be positioned slightly below the CLA, which will get another generation next year and whose swoopy styling means it’s classified by Mercedes as a four-door coupe. While the new CLA is likely to be closer dimensionally, for comparison’s sake the current version of that car is 3.2 inches longer than the 2019 A-class sedan, yet the latter offers greater interior room.

 

Stuttgart claims the A-class sedan is the world’s most aerodynamic production car—every manufacturer uses its own measuring criteria, mind you—just slightly better than the CLA. Aero-focused details include active grille shutters and extensive underbody paneling that includes a piece below the engine compartment incorporating NACA ducts. The design features a CLS-inspired nose and smooth surface detailing. It’s arguably prettier than the Europe-only hatchback, but the featureless rear could just as easily say Kia Rio on its plain trunk rather than A220.

 

That’s the only A-class model we’ll see in the United States—at least until the inevitable AMG versions. Our A220 sedan peaks at 188 horses and 221 lb-ft from its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, versus 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for today’s CLA250. The A250 hatch we drove in Europe had an upgraded version of the 2.0-liter turbo four with 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft; that engine tune isn’t coming here. Europe also gets a gasoline-drinking A200 as well as a diesel-powered A180d.

 

A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic routes thrust to the front wheels—or to all four when equipped with the optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. A four-wheel independent suspension is reserved for 4Matic models, while front-drive A220s get a torsion-beam rear axle. Wheel sizes start at 17 inches and max out at 19. Adaptive dampers are optional, as are bundles including the AMG Line (revised air intakes and fascia), a Night package (gloss-black exterior trim), and an Exterior Lighting package (upgraded LED headlights with adaptive beams).

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