Mercedes Benz envisions a future where cars anticipate our needs and connect us to the world in surprising new ways. That was the key message received from an immersive event in Melbourne where Mercedes demonstrated the smallest vehicle in its range. The new A-Class.
Leading the event was an entertaining discussion on the future of driving. Panellists included a comedian, a renowned coder, a Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning swimmer, a physics student and communications manager for Mercedes Benz. It wasn’t the typical group of speakers one expects from a PR event.
We heard about Mercedes’ fully electric and emission-free cars and a fully autonomous vehicle that’s in advanced development, expected to hit the road in the next few of years.
Then it was on to the new A-Class, with Code Like a Girl founder Ally Watson being among the first to drive the new vehicle. The self -confessed nervous driver said the multiple intelligent functions in the A-Class transformed her opinion of driving.
“Parking, you have 360-degree cameras, you can see everywhere. Driving, the car is helping me steer in the lane. You just feel so safe. It’s got your back,” said Ally.
“I can’t go back to my normal car now. This is just another way of living.”
Gold medal winner Cam McEvoy is studying to become a physicist and hopes to be involved in space exploration down the track. Talking about the A-Class’ advanced technology, Cam said “technology is always evolving, but you know you’ve reached a new epoch when something that was integrated in your life day-in and day-out becomes obsolete and replaced by something that’s much easier to use.”
“With the AI, you create a much more personal connection to the car, and it’s got the technology that over time it will learn your habits. It’s incredible, but so accessible as well.”
Jerry Stamoulis, Communications Manager for Mercedes Benz, made a pitch that sounded more like a recap of Blade Runner than the car manufactures plans for the future. He said Mercedes is investing in start-ups such as Volocopter, which is developing automated flying taxis that will never take the wrong turn or get caught up in a traffic jam.
“We’re investing in a number of start-ups. Obviously our main focus is automotive at this stage in terms of autonomous technologies, which the A-Class has, and the rest of the range will also receive. But we are moving towards a driverless future,” said Jerry.
And, of course, we got up close and personal with the new A-Class vehicle. MBUX, the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience, makes the A-Class more intelligent. It learns more every day and gets to know the driver. It can remember favourite songs, automatically adjust radio stations and offer alternate routes if the roads are congested.
Linguatronic, Mercedes’ voice control system has been overhauled. It can understand and talk to you, reading out text messages, or dictating one and sending it. All you need to do is say “hey Mercedes.”
The head-up display projects all relevant info, such as speed, speed limits or navigation into your field of vision. The position and content can be adapted and saved in the car’s memory function.
Just in front of the centre console, where you would typically change gears, is a touchpad. The pad controls almost every feature, including navigation and ambient lighting. The touch-sensitive surface can even identify your handwriting.
Those are just a few of the features that make the Mercedes Benz’s new A-Class an appealing ride and the highlights from our night in Melbourne. The A-Class is on sale now and priced from $47,200.