Mercedes-Benz stunned the world with its Concept A-Class at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2011. We had our doubts if the 3 dimensional diamond-grille would make it to the production version, and we are happy to report, they have! At least in one of the variants.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is aimed at the younger customers and the design shows. The two-box design has a distinct character of its own. The side view is distinguished by distinctive lines we saw on the Concept A-Class. There’s the line starting just above the front wing/fender dropping in a gentle arc towards the rear and then there’s the other line that sweeps up a little ahead of the rear wheel arch towards the rear and then fades away.
The light modules and LEDs behind the headlamp cover glass have been arranged in such a way as to create the characteristic “flare effect” for the daytime running lamps and indicators. The ‘flare’ is made up of the feature line within the headlamp, the LED modules for the daytime running lamps and the bulb sets for the indicators. This signature effect gives the car its energetic look and so helps to define a new, youthful face for Mercedes.
The roof spoiler, which conveniently hides all the aerials. The tail lights continue the line of the muscular shoulders back towards the rear, and as we’ve seen with the BMW 6 Series too, the horizontal orientation emphasises the car’s powerful width. The light functions are provided by fibre-optic cables and LED modules.
The variant we’d mentioned at the start of the article, the one with the diamond grille, would be the the A-Class Sport ‘engineered by AMG’. The A-Class Sport features exclusive 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels in a 5-spoke design with 235/40 R18 tyres all round and painted high-gloss black with a high-sheen finish, together with red-painted brake callipers.These features are a visual indicator of the dynamic capabilities of the A 250 Sport and the A 220 CDI Sport. These two variants also get a special AMG-developed front axle and a suspension that has been engineered to match the axle.
Hints of red on the AMG front and rear aprons also serve to emphasise the expressive positioning of the new model.
Petrol engine displacements range from 1.6 to 2.0L. The A180 gets the 122hp mill, whereas the A 200 gets the 156hp and the A250 gets 211hp. All these engines get direct injection and exhaust gas turbocharging, a more advanced combustion process and an extended stratification range for lean-burn operation that uses fast-acting injectors for the multiple injection of the fuel as well as on-demand multi-spark ignition.
CAMTRONIC is an innovation that will be celebrating its world premiere in the 1.6-litre engine: adjusting the valve lift on the intake side restricts the amount of fresh mixture used in the partial load range, so reducing consumption.
The diesel engines on offer will also use injection technology and turbocharging. The A 180 CDI offers an output of 109 hp and a maximum torque of up to 250 Nm, while the A 200 CDI has a maximum output of 136 hp and torque that rises to 300 Nm. The A 220 CDI has a displacement of 2.2 litres, an output of 170 hp and torque of 350 Nm, delivering absolutely exceptional performance in the A-Class.
All engines in the new A-Class feature the ECO start/stop function as standard. The engines can be combined either with the new six-speed manual transmission or, as an option, with the 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Mercedes-Benz says the high-quality feel and sportiness of the car are continued in the interior. All trim elements have been given an electroplated finish, resulting in real metal surfaces with “cool touch” effect. The dashboard is clearly divided into a wing profile-type upper section and an aesthetically influenced lower section. The resulting effect is that the upper section appears to be supported by a ‘muscle’. The manufacturing process used for this ‘muscle’ allows the creation of varying surface structures with soft tactile qualities. By using special films with three-dimensional structures Mercedes Benz says it is possible to create a range of different surface finishes that permit an attractive play of light.
The dashboard incorporates five round vents, the outer rings of which have a high-quality electroplated finish. The airflow direction is governed by an insert that is reminiscent of an aircraft turbine and reveals a meticulous attention to detail. This too has an electroplated finish in “silver chrome”. The free-standing display screen features a black piano-lacquer-look front panel and a flush-fitting silver frame.
The instrument cluster comprises two large round instruments, each of them with a small round instrument set within it. When at rest, the dial needles stand at 6 o’clock. The pointer inlays are generally white, although with the sportier design and equipment lines such as Urban and AMG Sport they are in red. The dials on the sporty equipment lines and packages are coloured silver with a chequered flag effect. The 3-spoke steering wheel comes with 12 function buttons and an electroplated bezel.
As seen in the Concept A-CLASS, there is an option allowing a smartphone to be fully integrated into the operating and display system. A special app makes it possible to use the full functionality of the iPhone®, and in due course also of other smartphones, in the car.
An extensive range of seat coverings, in terms of material (e.g. leather, fabric, Artico/fabric), colour combination and also geometry, provides scope for a broad range of individualisation options. Sports seats with integrated head restraints are available, for example, as an optional extra with all design and equipment lines. The sporty nature of the seats is emphasised by the opening between the upper edge of the seat backrest and the head restraint. On the back of the front seats this opening is edged with a frame in “silver chrome” and, in conjunction with the Light and Sight package, can also feature ambient lighting.
As well as the basic specification, which can be individualised with a wide range of options, there is a choice of design and equipment lines that have been put together with the requirements of customers in mind: “Urban”, “Style” and “AMG Sport”.
In the AMG engineered A-Class Sport variants, the contrast between black trim and additional accents in red continues in the interior: the contrasting decorative topstitching on the steering wheel and seats is in this same bright shade, as are the seat belts. The ambient lighting of the instruments and the highlight rings of the air vents are similarly red.
The new A-Class is 18 centimetres lower and hence has a lower centre of gravity and a new 4-link rear axle, which makes installation of the 4MATIC all-wheel drive possible. Customers can choose between various suspension settings, among them the optional sports suspension with Direct-Steer system. The electromechanical steering in the A-Class has been completely redesigned, so that the electric motor for the power assistance now sits directly on the steering gear in the form of a compact and extremely precise Dual Pinion EPS.
The A-Class has a new record Cd value of 0.26, puts the A-Class at the top of its class. This is further helped by the standard roof spoiler, which hides all the unsightly aerials on the A-Class. The A-Class is the only vehicle in its class to feature as standard a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist, which lowers the risk of rear-end collisions. The COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST system gives a visual and acoustic warning to alert a possibly distracted driver to identified obstacles, and prepares Brake Assist for the most precise braking response possible. This is initiated as soon as the driver steps firmly on the brake pedal.