It’s been a long time coming, but the covers have finally been pulled off the new W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The unveiling of the fourth-generation hatchback is all but a formality, given that the design of the car was uncovered months before, as was the interior.

Even so, there’s a lot to unravel here, starting with that aggressive front end clearly inspired by the new CLS, with tapered headlights (Multibeam LED units are available) flowing into the trapezoidal grille (incorporating diamond pins, just like its predecessor). Along the side, the longer wheelbase and strong shoulder line makes the car appear longer, while the bonnet slopes down more dramatically for a more athletic look.

Moving to the rear end, the new A-Class looks wider thanks to a glasshouse that tapers more towards the top, as well as the two-piece tail lights and increased spacing between the reflectors. Wheel sizes measure from 16 to 19 inches in diameter, the latter improving the stance. Drag coefficient, meanwhile, is down to just 0.25 Cd, helped along by the optional Airpanel that closes off the grille and air intake when not required.

Measuring 4,419 mm long, 1,796 mm wide and 1,440 mm tall, the new A-Class is 127 mm longer, 16 mm wider and 7 mm taller than the third-generation model, and its 2,729 mm wheelbase is 30 mm longer. Mercedes claims that the car now offers greater head-, shoulder- and elbow room, easier rear-seat access and a boot that is 29 litres larger at 370 litres.

The interior takes after other models like the E-Class, with the dashboard dominated by a large freestanding display panel. Base variants have two 7.0-inch displays for instrumentation and infotainment – the latter being a touchscreen for the first time – and you can go all the way up to twin 10.25-inch widescreen displays.

A new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) interface has been incorporated, taking a few hints from BMW’s latest iDrive system. There’s now a home screen with selectable applications such as telephone, media and navigation, plus relevant live information. Also new is the Fullscreen mode which uses the entire instrument display to show trip, navigation and driver assistance data.

The system also offers voice control that recognises natural speech, as well as optional Here navigation with augmented reality – this shows a view of the surroundings using the front camera, overlaid with navigation information such as arrows and house numbers. Other features include USB C connectivity along with optional features like a touchpad, Car-to-X connectivity, a head-up display and a Burmester sound system.

Elsewhere in the interior, buyers can specify seats with heating, cooling and massage functions, as well as ambient lighting with 64 colours – unlike on the E-Class, these are split into ten colour worlds that allow for a light display with changing colours.

Safety-wise, the new A-Class is available with the S-Class‘ semi-autonomous driving functions. The Driving Assistance package incorporates Distronic adaptive cruise control, Active Emergency Stop Assist and Active Lane Change Assist. Extended Active Brake Assist autonomous emergency braking is fitted as standard and can mitigate or avoid an accident with vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, while Pre-Safe Plus can now detect an imminent rear-end collision and apply the brakes when stationary to reduce the severity of impact.

At launch, the A-Class will be offered in three variants powered by brand new engines. On the petrol side, there’s the A 200 an M282 1.4 litre (technically 1.33 litre) turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 163 hp/250 Nm (replacing the older 1.6 litre unit), and the A 250 with an M260 2.0 litre turbo unit with 224 hp/350 Nm (current model uses on older M270 unit). The A 180 d is powered by a new OM608 1.5 litre four-cylinder turbodiesel making 116 hp and 260 Nm of torque.

Transmissions include a six-speed manual (A 200 only), as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (new Getrag-sourced tranny for the A 200 and A 180 d, and an improved version of Daimler’s own 7G-DCT for the A 250). 4Matic all-wheel drive is also available as an option. Claimed 0 to 100 km/h times are 8.0 seconds for the A 200 (8.2 with the manual), 6.2 seconds for the A 250 and 10.5 seconds for the A 180 d.

Under the skin, the new A-Class will now be available with two different suspension configurations. While the MacPherson strut front suspension remains, the rear suspension is now a basic torsion beam setup on the A 200 and A 180 d, with independent four-link suspension only fitted to the A 250. The standard comfort suspension can be paired with lowered springs (by 15 mm), as well as adaptive damping.

Mercedes claims that the car is now quieter than before, with a more rigid bodyshell, stronger connecting points between body, suspension and powertrain, effective insulation between the body and suspension as well as redesigned air and coolant management systems and interior trim panels. Wind noise is also said to be significantly reduced compared to the outgoing model.