Cars > Launch

The all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is now available

And the main selling point is the MBUX infotainment system

This is the top-of-the-line A200 Edition 1. PHOTO FROM AUTO NATION GROUP

They say people are now falling out of love with the automobile. The Japanese even have a term for this: kuruma banare. It means “demotorization,” which is used to describe young people’s indifference toward motor vehicles. Where kids in the ’80s tacked posters of sports cars on their bedroom walls, their present-day counterparts are content to just stare at electronic tablets all day.

So, how do you market a brand-new car—a premium one in particular—to a generation that has wholeheartedly embraced the digital revolution? Simple: Make it behave like a wireless gadget on wheels. That’s exactly what Mercedes-Benz has done to the fourth-generation A-Class, which the Auto Nation Group, the authorized distributor in the Philippines, has launched in our market.

The new A-Class model is said to have an intelligent virtual assistant onboard. PHOTO FROM AUTO NATION GROUP

In the past, the highlights of a car would usually be the engine and the exterior design. With the new A-Class, the main selling point is found inside the luxury hatchback.

The new MBUX system is entertaining in itself. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

The A-Class now boasts the so-called Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, which features the Widescreen Cockpit (or what you’d mistake for two huge iPads welded together and placed right in front of the driver). The German automaker claims that the system is capable of artificial intelligence, learning and mastering the personal preferences of the car’s occupants. It also has voice command, so that if you say “Hey Mercedes” and issue an order (like play your favorite driving music), you’ll get your wish granted. Think Siri for the road.

And if you want to set up the mood in the cabin, 64 colors are available to provide your desired ambient lighting. Needless to say, the cockpit is fully digital, including the instrument panel.

This Merc will be sold only in hatchback form in our market, with three variants. PHOTO FROM AUTO NATION GROUP

A pair of 1.3-liter engines—one with 163hp and 250Nm, another with 136hp and 200Nm—is offered locally, both mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Here are the variants and their prices:

  • A200 Edition 1 – P3,290,000
  • A200 Progressive – P2,990,000
  • A180 Progressive – P2,490,000
Auto Nation Group bosses Frankie and Felix Ang beam with total confidence. PHOTO FROM AUTO NATION GROUP

In a world of fast-streaming data, car companies can no longer rely on horsepower and torque ratings to lure new buyers. The contest is now in the menu of high-tech features that make a brand-new vehicle desirable in the eyes of consumers who are simply no longer interested in driving.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.