World premiere of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Matchless design and concept, unrivalled standards ofsafety and high-class appeal: the new A-Class injects Mercedes finesse into the compact car segment
After a production run of seven years and some 1.1 million sales worldwide, Mercedes-Benz is now opening up the next chapter in the A-Class success story by launching a new model boasting even greater appeal and innovative flair. The second edition of the compact car is due to make its debut in the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer's showrooms in autumn 2004.
Underpinned by its singular sandwich construction, the new A-Class boasts a host of tantalising benefits, such as Mercedes standards of occupant safety, exemplary utilisation of space and outstanding versatility. The levels of spaciousness inside the vehicle are a marked improvement on the outgoing model and also better other compact cars. The new A-Class also clearly out-strips its competitors when it comes to high-class appeal, further substantiat-ing its premium billing.
The new A-Class model range comprises two body versions, each with their own distinctive character: the versatile five-door version is now joined for the first time by a three-door model whose sporty, youthful styling is bound to attract admiring glances. Both variants will now come with a choice of seven engines and three different design & equipment lines. Power output of the brand new or reengineered four-cylinder engines has been upped by as much as 38 per cent, whilst fuel consumption has been cut by up to ten per cent.
The one-of-a-kind body concept and the eye-catching one-box design clearly set the Mercedes compact car aside from other cars in its segment. The lines of the body-shell capture the special nature of the new A-Class, as well as epitomising its overriding characteristics: dynamism, intelligence and appeal. Restyled headlamps, a bolder radiator grille, powerfully contoured wings and the sweeping lines along the sides combine to reinforce the overall impression of compactness, dynamism and self-assurance. The growth in the body's dimensions and proportions now gives the A Class a more powerful stature: compared to the previous model, the new compact car from Mercedes measures 232 millimetres longer from nose to tail and an extra 45 millimetres widthways.
The new three-door version offers all of the exemplary safety and comfort attributes associated with the A-Class and supplements them with body lines which emphasise this model's youthful and vibrant charm. From late 2004, the three-door version will be offering customers a route into the world of Mercedes-Benz that is as appealing as it is inexpensive.
Intelligent package of safety features for comprehensive occupant safety
The second generation of the A-Class stays true to its reputation for setting the pace in the technology stakes: once again, a series of groundbreaking innovations which enhance driving safety and ride comfort are celebrating their debut in the new model; all in all, over 200 patented designs feature in the new compact car.
Quite apart from the matchless sandwich concept that comes into its own in the event of collisions from the front or the side, the newly developed and highly efficient seat-belt and airbag system fitted aboard the A-Class ensures that occupant safety meets Mercedes' typically stringent standards. Features include adaptive two-stage front airbags, belt tensioners for the front and outer rear seats, adaptive belt force limiters and newly developed head/thorax side airbags in place of the outgoing model's sidebags. The more extensive use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel alloys combines with high-strength bonded joints and additional support sections within the fabric of the bodywork to assist in keeping the vehicle's occupants well protected even in the event of a serious accident.
The sandwich concept has proved its capabilities time and again since its introduction in the A-Class in 1997 and has helped to protect the car's occupants in serious road accidents. Indeed, it has played a central role in reducing the severity of passenger injury in frontal collisions to well below the average values normally seen in this vehicle class.
New rear axle and selective damping system make their debuts
A host of new developments has allowed Mercedes-Benz to make considerable progress in terms of the driving safety and handling stability of the A-Class. The most prominent of the chassis innovations is the parabolic rear axle, whose fortes include precision wheel location as well as excellent roll support when cornering. As a result, the new rear axle plays a pivotal role in achieving the exemplary driving safety, dynamic handling and outstanding levels of ride comfort offered by the new A-Class.
Another ingenious feature included as standard with the chassis of the new compact model is the revolutionary new selective damping system that is making its automotive premiere in the A-Class. The new technology is able to adjust the shock absorber forces as the driving situation changes: under normal conditions, soft shock absorber characteristics translate into tremendous ride comfort, while the full damping force takes effect when cornering at speed in order to stabilise the A-Class as effectively as possible.
Significant boost to power and torque, plus exemplary fuel consumption
More output, more torque, more driving pleasure, reduced fuel consumption – these were the list of development objectives for the engines fitted in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The line-up includes seven four-cylinder powerplants in all, including three newly developed direct-injection CDI diesel units and a new, turbocharged 142 kW/193-hp petrol engine. Compared to the outgoing model series, the output of the petrol and diesel engines for the new A-Class has increased by up to 38 per cent, while torque has improved by as much as 46 per cent. Despite their increased power output, it has been possible to cut the fuel consumption of the petrol engines by up to ten per cent. All the engines meet the tight EU4 emissions limits, and a particulate filter system is available as an option for the diesel units.
The new A 200 TURBO model will see the A-Class enter a new realm in terms of per-formance; the rated output of 142 kW/193 hp makes the four-cylinder unit one of the most powerful in its displacement class. The high maximum torque of 280 Newton metres is constantly on tap over a wide rev band from 1800 rpm up to 4850 rpm, the point at which output peaks. The most powerful model in the new A-Class range sprints from standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 8.0 seconds, and has a top speed of 227 km/h.
The three newly developed CDI diesel engines are built around second-generation common-rail technology, which operates using dual pilot injection and a higher injec-tion pressure (1600 bar). These combine with other measures to produce a significant increase in output and torque, a reduction in exhaust emissions and an audible drop in noise levels.
The diesel models will in future be spearheaded by the A 200 CDI. The direct-injection engine with VNT turbocharger and an ignition pressure of 180 bar has an output of 103 kW/140 hp and develops its peak torque of 300 Newton metres over a wide rev speed band from 1600 up to 3000 rpm. The result is swift acceleration, both from standstill and for slick overtaking: the new A 200 CDI accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds and goes on to reach a top speed of 201 km/h.
With NEDC fuel consumption figures varying between 4.9 and 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres, the new CDI models match the exemplary standards set by the outgoing compact Mercedes-Benz models. The A 160 CDI has a range of around 1100 kilometres with a single tank of fuel (54 litres).
All models in the new A-Class range are available with the brand new AUTOTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission as an option. This is the first transmission from Mercedes-Benz to operate on this principle, in which the ratios are changed continuously by means of a pulley-wheel variator and a steel thrust belt. As a result, the A-Class is able to accelerate with no interruption of tractive power, and the engine attains its maximum output more quickly than with a conventional automatic transmission. The AUTOTRONIC package is rounded off by high ride comfort and low noise levels.
Setting premium standards for spaciousness, touch & feel and ergonomics
A compact car on the outside, yet a family car with the spaciousness of a mini-MPV under the surface, the unique sandwich concept of the new A-Class succeeds in combining these apparently conflicting characteristics into a single vehicle. The new compact car from Mercedes outperforms both its predecessor model and its competitors as far as its comfort-related interior dimensions are concerned. Shoulder room has increased by as much as 97 millimetres, the passengers' elbow room by up to 95 millimetres and knee room in the rear by 30 millimetres. The space between the front and rear seats now stands at 805 millimetres, putting it on a par with medium-sized saloons.
The selection of materials for the A-Class interior is based on scientific studies conducted in the laboratories of DaimlerChrysler's research department. Here, motorists assessed the touch and feel of a range of different surface materials, switches and controls, and were able to provide valuable pointers for the development of interior components which not only look good but are also pleasant to the touch. The visual qualities of the interior thus provide a harmonious complement to the touch and feel of its component parts. Together, these two areas make a major contribution to the comfort of the car occupants. In addition, experts conducted a series of ergonomics tests and used the results to improve the controls, seating position and angle of vision for the driver.
On the basis of the scientific tests, it was possible to devise the Mercedes "TAF" (touch-and-feel) formula for achieving optimum tactile and ergonomic qualities.
Air conditioning fitted as standard in all models
In addition to the dimensional concept, seat design and improved ergonomics of the new car's interior, climate control also plays a central role in enhancing the safety and comfort of the passengers. To this end, Mercedes-Benz fits the new A-Class as standard with a powerful air conditioning system and also offers its compact car with THERMOTRONIC as an option, which self-regulates its operation using data from sensors on temperature, sunlight, humidity and pollutant levels in the ambient air.
EASY-VARIO-PLUS increases load capacity to as much as 1995 litres
The boot capacity now totals 435 litres, exceeding that of the current A-Class by as much as 15 per cent, at the same time as setting a new benchmark figure for this segment. The ingenious versatility concept of the predecessor model has undergone systematic redevelopment to revolve around the principle of "rearrangement first". It allows the interior to be adapted to the transportation task at hand in a few simple steps without having to resort to removing the rear seats. The 1/3 : 2/3 split of the rear seating unit, featuring seat cushions and backrests that can both be folded for-wards, makes it possible to produce a completely level loading area, whilst increasing the load capacity of the luggage compartment to as much as 1370 litres (meas-ured using VDA method).
In addition to this, the 2/3-section of the seat cushion can be removed and stowed under the height-adjustable luggage compartment floor in order to create more space for luggage and leisure or sports equipment.
Customers opting for the EASY-VARIO-PLUS system have the added luxury of being able to remove both rear seat cushions and the rear backrests. This system also al-lows the backrest of the front passenger seat to be folded forwards and the front passenger seat to be removed completely. As a result, the load area increases in length to 2.75 metres, while maximum load capacity expands to 1995 litres.
The three design / equipment lines of the new A-Class: CLASSIC, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE
Dashboard an cockpit for the AVANTGARDE line
Dashboard an cockpit for the ELEGANCE line
A-Class, A 200, ELEGANCE
A-Class, A 200, ELEGANCE
A-Class, A 200, ELEGANCE
A-Class, A 200, ELEGANCE
A-Class, three-door, interior
A-Class, three-door and five-door, exterior
A-Class, three-door and five-door, exterior
A-Class, A 200 Avantgarde, three-door, exterior
A-Class, A 200 Avantgarde, three-door, driving shot
A-Class, A 180 CDI, three-door, driving shot