The new Mercedes A-class is here with improvements across the board. It’s set to star at the 2018 Geneva motor show in March

Mercedes-Benz has officially unveiled the latest generation of its Audi A3 and BMW 1-series rival, the Mercedes A-class. Larger, more efficient and more technologically advanced than its predecessor – with an intriguing new engine and a very impressive interior – Mercedes-Benz says the new A-class “completely redefinies modern luxury in the compact class” – and it goes on sale in the spring.

Available initially as a five-door hatchback like its predecessor (a four-door saloon will be along later, with a more rakish CLA and more rugged GLA inevitably following), the new A-class is one of the first cars to display Mercedes’ latest design language, something the brand calls “Sensual Purity”.

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Mercedes A-class: new exterior design language

While that description might make you seek out the nearest bucket or bush, the result is a car that’s visually identifiable as a Mercedes A-class but features less visual clutter, with cleaner surfaces and slightly more comfortable proportions than its slightly awkward-looking predecessor.

It’s more aerodynamically efficient too. As it is with several other recent Mercedes models, the company is claiming class-leading aero with the new A-class, with a drag coefficient of 0.25 – not long ago, the preserve of teardrop shapes like the Prius. Small aero elements around the wheels help reduce turbulence while a louvre system behind the grille also contributes to reducing drag. The aero changes should aid performance, economy and cabin refinement.

The headlights and tail lights (halogen headlights are standard, but LEDs are widely available) are slimmer than before and the grille larger, while the bonnet features a more pronounced slope – something that, together with larger wheel arches and a longer wheelbase than before, gives the car a more balanced appearance.

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Big changes fo the A-class interior

The biggest change is inside however. The last A-class marked a step-up for C-segment interiors but was a little busy and claustrophobic for some, and the infotainment screen always looked like an afterthought. In its latest iteration, the A-class cabin moves the game on a lot further, taking inspiration from the larger E-class and S-class in both its functions and its details.

The dashboard is dominated by a wide flat-panel display which, depending on model, contains a pair of 7-inch screens, one 10.25in and one 7in, or a pair of 10.25in screens displaying the instruments and the car’s infotainment functions. It’s far better integrated than the old display. Albeit still free-standing, its floating appearance is a lot more convincing than before.