New infotainment – Mercedes A-Class 2019

Last week I visited the local Mercedes-Benz dealership in order to check out the all-new 2019 A-Class, a car I wanted to examine a bit more closely for a few months now. With every new car or new rendition of an existing car, it is always interesting to see where the carmaker placed the focus, and with the A-Class, that is very clear. All research and development went towards the new MBUX (mercedes benz user experience) system, a new generation of infotainment with the same looks as the large screens we already know from the S- and E-Class but with a few changes.

Exterior wise, the changes are rather small. New lights, bumpers, a bit more length and width, nothing too exciting. The new dimensions caused interior space for rear passengers and boot volume to grow, and the suspension was adjusted to be more comfortable. Engines are all four cylinder powertrains again, developed with or borrowed from Renault.

But again, the real news is in the cockpit. Mercedes swapped the traditional gauge cluster with the iPad-like navigation screen in the middle for a new setup of dual 7 or 10 inch screens, depending on how much money you want to leave at Mercedes. The steering wheel features a lot more buttons too, maybe becoming a bit too crowded even, but that is my own opinion.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor mb a class 2019

What Mercedes rightfully claims, is that the new A brings the funky systems of the most expensive models like the S and E right to the premium C-segment. Of course, the base versions only get a very modest part of these systems, but at least they are available. Something Audi and BMW cannot say, since their offerings in the segment are running on their last legs. When going all-out and speccing a car which probably costs around 50 grand in Euro (without even the most powerful engine) you can have kit like:

  • Heated, ventilated, and massaging seats
  • Burmester audio
  • A 10″ high resolution digital gauge cluster with different presets (although it didn’t seem as configurable as Audi’s virtual cockpit)
  • An additional 10″  high-res navigation and infotainment display right next to it (again, standard both are only 7 inch and show only one gauge, in a similar way Volvo handles it)
  • Head up display
  • Touchpad, touchscreen, and pretty decent voice controls (‘hey mercedes’ is enough to launch the whole operation)
  • adaptive cruise control, lane keeping aid, blind spot monitoring, and (!) automatic lane changing
  • A nifty feature called augmented navigation showing digital floating traffic signs on a camera feed in the right screen, making it impossible to miss a turn
  • carplay/android auto, inductive charging, and probably every other way you could possibly imagine to connect your phone to the system

Is there then nothing to left to complain about with the new car? Well, as with almost all premium cars, there is. The problem is the best features are hidden in expensive option packages staging at least 4 or 5 grand. This makes it simply impossible to pick a base model and fit it with the tech you would personally like, but leave things out you don’t car about. This is a pity, since it makes the car less attractive to the regular, non-leasing, buyer. You can pick up a new A160 for around 30 grand, but having both exterior and interior look a bit less stale would cost at least 8k more (for the Progressive pack and the AMG-line pack). This could be improved, by creating packs featuring only the best options (like the satnav, 17 inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise, the larger screens, and heated seats) but not all of them.




The New Peugeot 508

It has been a while since a new article was posted on this blog, largely due to the fact that my regular daytime job (which I require for a stable income) took a lot of my time, also after working hours. However, with the holiday period coming up I’ll be able to invest more time into writing and car reviewing, something I hope everyone reading the articles appreciates. Over the course of the past months, view count numbers have been growing steadily, which is great and a real motivating factor for me.

Now on to the topic of today’s article, which is the brand new Peugeot 508, which was released to to the world around three weeks ago. For readers from the United States; the 508 is a mid sized sedan/hatchback/estate which competes with cars like the Volkswagen Passat and the Ford Fusion / Mondeo.

The car arrives in interesting times. In different European countries, the D-segment, home of the 508, is not going very well. Sales are down for multiple consecutive years, and the customers staying are almost all lease companies and no private buyers. That is probably why Peugeot thought it wise to change their approach to the segment and position their offering differently. They did so by unveiling a sporty yet elegant design with more resemblance to a five door coupe (like the Volkswagen Arteon and the Audi A5) than a traditional four door sedan.

Press critics until now have been very positive about this new angle of the French carmaker. Almost everyone seems to like the design language and the overall package Peugeot is now offering. Personally, I specifically appreciate the more sporty design seen on the GT-Line variant on the pictures in this article, it has been a while since Peugeot chose for a muscular and sportive design and I think they changed direction with the 508 in a very good way. Apart from that, it is also a very welcome change to the loads and loads of SUVs and crossovers we saw recently flooding the markets.

Interior wise Peugeot opts for a new iteration of its ‘I-Cockpit’, which revolves around a digital instrument cluster, smaller and lower positioned steering wheel, and control switches aimed towards the driver. All details have been executed with the best materials and nicest eye for detail. The looks of it are not as clean as, par example, an Audi A4, but it looks almost as high quality and is a lot more refreshing.

Apart from the five door liftback there will also be an estate, called 508 SW. From the side it looks a bit like the 308 SW, but the rear is a lot stronger and, to my opinion, better looking. Engine options for now consist of petrol and diesel powertrains, from 130hp to 225. Price wise Peugeot is kicking things off with special introduction version, which are not the cheapest and could be obtained for prices around €50k. The current baseline goes for €38k (in the Netherlands) which gets the mentioned diesel with a manual 6-speed gearbox, front wheel drive, and the Active trim. This trim has the main niceties of the interior but moves on smaller wheels (16″) and swaps the ‘sabretooth’ LED lights on the front for aluminium strips.