The development of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class: The design
Stuttgart
Apr 11, 2012
The development of the A-Class: the design - The most progressive design in the compact class
The pulse of a new generation. The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class caused a furore. Its first presentation at the Geneva Motor Show made headlines: "A" for all perfectly done" (auto motor & sport), "A" as in "all different" (Focus), "Top-class, this "A" (Bild), "A" as in "all new" (Der Spiegel), "Muscular, low, sporty" (AutoBild). Before the new A-Class rolls on its way to European dealers in September 2012, Mercedes-Benz is to provide - in several instalments – insights into important development steps on its way to its market inauguration. This time the topic is design.
Standing as much as 18 centimetres lower on the street than the preceding model, the new A-Class communicates design and dynamism at the very first glance. This radical form language, presented and enthusiastically acclaimed around the world with the Concept A-CLASS, was consistently implemented in the series production car. The appearance of the new A-Class reflects this new Mercedes-Benz design strategy. The result is what is known as a two-box design with a distinct character of its own, a sportily emotive exterior and an exceptionally high-quality feel to the interior.
"Translating the new dynamic style of Mercedes-Benz into the compact class was a challenge that was great fun to tackle", explains Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz. "No other car in this segment is as progressive as the A-Class. Absolutely typical for Mercedes is the sculptural shape of the A-Class. The character lines, in particular on its sides, lend the A-Class structure and terseness. The new dynamic style is perceptible at first glance in the interior as well."
Defined edges and tautly drawn surfaces mark out the exterior design of the new A-Class. The constant interplay between concave and convex surfaces creates a characteristic play of light, particularly along the sides of the car, which contributes to its unique appearance.
Typical features of the long, sporty front are its pronounced V-shape, the separate headlamps, the radiator grille with central Mercedes star and double slats to either side of the star, as well as the additional air intakes on the sides. The "dropping line" apparent in the side profile dissipates towards the vehicle's front end. The design of the headlamps, together with the configuration of the light functions within them, is a key element of the design concept.
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 so-called "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 perfect interplay of dynamic design and excellent aerodynamics is nowhere more apparent than in the roof, with its smooth surfaces and taut, arcing curve. The silhouette reveals smooth, flowing lines finishing in a flat edge. The roof spoiler, which conveniently hides all the aerials, provides an extra sporty touch and gives structure to the roof assembly. The beltline rises to the rear to form a pronounced wedge-shape. The side view is distinguished by sensuously moulded sculptural side panels and crisp lines. The front structural edge, above the wing, falls in what is known as a "dropping line" in a gentle arc towards the rear. The powerfully-shaped shoulder muscles above the rear axle serve to emphasise the car's coupé-like character. A further line sweeps up from just in front of the rear wheel arch, then gently fades away. All these lines give depth and dynamism to the car's profile. Dynamic side sill panels provide a final finishing touch towards the bottom of the car, enhancing the appearance of elegant light-footedness.
The broad emphasis of the tail end is revealed in an interplay of convex-concave surfaces and edges. The tail lights continue the line of the muscular shoulders back towards the rear, while their horizontal orientation emphasises the car's powerful breadth. The light functions are provided by fibre-optic cables and LED modules. Here, too, the interaction between design and aerodynamics is very clear: the surface finish of the tail lights is not only an interesting design feature, but also improves the airflow around the vehicle thanks to defined airflow break-away edges in the rear section.
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