The new fourth-generation A-Class hatchback for 2018 onwards won't just ensure that Mercedes continues to appear in top-10 personal and business leasing charts but has all the right ingredients to redefine the luxury compact class and scare the likes of the BMW 1 Series. takes a look.

What does it look like?

Contract hire a car (Stockport leasing) - new 2018 Mercedes A-Class exterior front

From the front the new A-Class resembles a mini CLS and has a much more aggressive and also classier vibe, with sleek headlights, a low-slung bonnet, grille and air vents, its sculpted appearance and wider stance giving it greater road presence.

Contract hire a car (Stockport leasing) - new 2018 Mercedes A-Class exterior rear

Viewed from the side, the window line of the new A-Class is no longer sharply raked, the awkward-looking lower crease has gone and the rear has been rounded off to now appear far less upright. The wheel arches are wider, allowing for upto 19" alloys to be fitted.

Contract hire a car (Stockport leasing) - new 2018 Mercedes A-Class exterior side profile silhouette

At the rear, the curvaceous, bug-like taillight clusters have been replaced with sharp, sleek units that echo the front end and give the car more of a planted aura. The new A-Class' overall shape at the back helps it convey a more expensive image akin to the GLC, although it's a shame the vertical air outlets have been dropped.

Is the new interior now even better?

Inside is where Mercedes has made even more substantial changes and improvements with the new A-Class, aiming to take the premium hatchback's cabin even further upmarket. The curved hood or 'cowl' over the steering wheel and instrumentation has been completely removed leaving the hugely impressive widescreen display freestanding.

Contract hire a car (Stockport leasing) - new 2018 Mercedes A-Class interior dashboard

We're pleased that the trio of circular air vents has been retained, and the new A-Class' central dashboard console is now focussed around three horizontal zones, visually separated by ambient lighting that now changes colour around palette themes - a segment first. The car's buttons, controls and surfaces now appear more minimalist and sophisticated.

Contract hire a car (Stockport leasing) - new 2018 Mercedes A-Class interior touch pad

The new A-Class is a serious gadget-fest that showcases some remarkable technology. Two 7-inch HD displays come as standard, with one or two 10.25-inch displays available on certain trims. Mercedes' completely new user experience, MBUX, uses artificial intelligence to learn and adapt to suit the driver, while the navigation system incorporates augmented reality, intelligent voice control and natural speech recognition. MBUX's 'touch-control' functionality comprises touchscreen operation of the displays along with buttons on the steering wheel and a touchpad down by the gearstick or selector. Connectivity is now even more impressive thanks to the 'Mercedes me' suite having been expanded, right down to car park space availability being provided.

How does it compare in terms of size?

There's more headroom, shoulder and elbow room inside the new Mercedes A-Class and its boot has grown by 29 litres to now provide 370 litres of luggage space. No surprise, really, as the new model is longer and wider than the one it replaces. Little touches ensure greater practicality, from the ability to position the rear seats to be more upright, to larger cupholders, cubbies and other storage features.

What about the new A-Class' engines?

Now already launched and with ordering starting in March, Mercedes' new luxury compact car will initially be available as a 163bhp A 200 four-pot petrol mated to either a 7G-DCT transmission or a 6-speed manual gearbox, a 224bhp petrol A 250, or a diesel A 180 d with CO2 emissions of just 108g/km and peak fuel economy of 68.8mpg. Unlike the outgoing A-Class, which shared some engines with Renault, the new 2018 A-Class solely uses engines unique to Mercedes and the petrol units even incorporate particulate filters to make them as green as possible. For added reassurance, the marque's 4MATIC four-wheel drive system will be optional on certain variants.

Contract hire a car (Stockport leasing) - new 2018 Mercedes A-Class engines

Any likely changes in handling?

As standard, the new A-Class will be equipped with comfort suspension (which has been lowered by 15mm), steel springs and DYNAMIC SELECT, enabling the driver to personalise the driving experience to suit. With a class-leading amount of aluminium used in the car's suspension, it's set to feel light and agile across the board, while A 250 and 4MATIC models come with more sophisticated four-link suspension at the rear, along with active damping control.

Technology trickling down from the S-Class

The new Mercedes A-Class is actually the first of the brand's models to have been developed at the new Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety, and Active Brake Assist is fitted as standard, providing reassurance for fleets and private leasing customers like.

Mercedes' PRE-SAFE system even goes as far as incorporating a window bag covering the A-pillar at the front, while Thorax-pelvis airbags are fitted as standard at the sides.

Amazingly, the new A-Class will even be able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations, thanks to the latest camera and radar technology adopted from the S-Class. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC uses map and navigation data to predictively adjust the car's speed when it knows a bend, roundabout or junction is coming up, and Active Lane Change Assist will carry out the manoeuvre for the driver once the indicator has been pressed.

Can you lease a new A-Class yet?

Not quite, no, as pricing hasn't been announced yet. We expect that we'll be adding business contract hire and personal leasing prices to our website in around a month's time, so stay tuned and perhaps send us an enquiry in the meantime so that we can keep you informed with any news hot off the press.