A glance at our Facebook page suggests that the design of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has certainly divided opinion. So, we decided to take a closer look at just how this new W177-generation hatchback differs from its W176 predecessor.

Expect the fourth-gen A-Class to touch down in South Africa in the third quarter of 2018, ready to take on the likes of the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 Sportback. Be sure to read all about the new model – including the fresh engines that the Stuttgart-based automaker says will do duty from launch – in our original story here.

So, in terms of design, just how different is the new model from its forebear? Check out the side-by-side comparison images below to find out (old on the left and new on the right). Note that the new model is pictured in "First Edition" guise...

Up front, the biggest change is undoubtedly the adoption of new, more angular headlamps (which are smaller than before and come complete with a fresh daytime running light signature) and the implementation of what is essentially an inverted grille. The lower air intakes, too, are more aggressively styled, while the corners of the bonnet no longer meet with the headlamp units.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Round back, the globular taillamps of the third-generation model have been replaced with sleeker, stretched units (which many readers have pointed out are similar in shape to those of the Kia Cerato hatch), while new reflector elements have been added near the top of the rear bumper.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Interestingly, the exhaust outlets, on this trim level at least, are virtually untouched, although the diffuser element has been updated. The shape of the rear screen has changed, while the boot lid has seemingly been widened (for easier access to the luggage compartment).

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Along the flanks, the W176-generation’s dramatic, rising character line has been dropped in favour of a more subtle stroke that neatly joins the rear wheelarch of the new, longer model. The fuel-filler flap is squarer on the fourth-generation A-Class, while the side-mirrors appear sleeker and the exterior handles more symmetrical.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
And inside? Well, the most obvious change is the axing of the free-standing central display and the traditional, cowled instrument cluster in favour of a dual-display, widescreen cockpit (which we should point out will be offered in three versions) that does both jobs. Interestingly, the air-conditioning display has been integrated into the central screen, while the turbine-style air vents have been carried over, albeit in redesigned form.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
What do you think of the new A-Class? Leave us a comment below...