Mercedes-Benz A-Class is First Produced
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a small car produced by the German automaker Mercedes-Benz.
The first generation (W168) was introduced in 1997, and the all-new second generation model (W169) appeared in late 2004. It is available as a three or five-door hatchback. It is Mercedes' entry level model in most of its worldwide markets, though not in China or North America; the B-Class is the entry model in China, Canada and Mexico, and the C-Class is the entry model in the US.
Production of the W168 A-Class began in 1997. Its front engine, front wheel drive layout was quite unusual for Mercedes. To date, about 1.6 million units have been sold worldwide.
One innovation of the W168 was a frontal-impact absorption system called the "Sandwich" (see patents DE4326 9 and DE4400132 in the name of Mercedes-Benz). In the event of a violent frontal impact, the engine and transmission would slide underneath the floor below the pedals rather than entering the passenger compartment.
The W168 became infamous in 1997 after flipping over during the traditional "moose test" performed by the Swedish automobile publication Teknikens Värld. According to the report, the W168 overturned when maneuvering to avoid the "moose". Mercedes initially denied the problem, but then took the surprising step of recalling all units sold to date (2,600) and suspending distribution until the problem was solved by adding electronic stability control and modifying the suspension. This marked the world première of stability control in a small car.
The car is designed according to Mercedes-Benz concept of 'Touch And Feel' (TAF).
The multi-function steering wheel places controls for the radio, telephone, and other systems conveniently within reach of the thumbs of the driver. Power steering (standard feature) aids control of the automobile, with its behaviour varying according to the vehicle's speed.
The Mercedes COMAND APS is a navigation system which provides directions via GPS. The radio unit also provides DVD and telephone functionality, with various versions available (standard Audio 20 radio/single CD, Audio 50 APS or COMAND APS).
The Parktronic system provides audio and visual signals to indicate how far the car is from an obstacle.
The A-class optionally includes a "Light & Sight" package which includes bi-xenon HID headlamps with gas-discharge bulbs; cornering lights (main-beam headlamps at road junctions and tight corners); "Headlamp Assist, which automatically turns on the lights when needed; and a rain sensor that adjusts wiper speed depending on rainfall intensity.
As a standard feature, when entering a tunnel or an underground garage the car goes into "tunnel mode", where all windows and the panoramic sliding sunroof are closed.
The standard temperature control system has separate temperature settings for driver and front passenger sides, and includes a "Heater Booster System" that can flood the interior of the car with hot air.
The optional Themotronic system maintains and regulates the temperature in accordance with a set of sensors that measure temperature, sunlight, humidity and pollutant levels in the ambient air.
A number of new features were made available in the W169 model.
The biggest was the immediate fitment of a newly invented device, Electronic Stability Control. ESP is standard on every Mercedes-Benz (produced after 1999).
The car is constructed with high-strength steel alloys with bonded joints. It has a large number of airbags including optional rear side airbags (for side-impacts in the backseats), optional side-curtain airbags, and standard head and thorax-protection side airbags. The front airbags are adaptive with two-stage gas generators operating according to the severity of accident.
The force exerted by the seat belt system during a collision adapts dynamically depending upon the collision characteristics. The 'active' head restraints (standard for driver and front passenger) give enhanced protection from neck injury, especially during rear collisions.
The angle of the A-pillar is flatter than the windshield angle.
The cargo capacity of the W169 was increased by 15 percent compared with the W168. The seats can be moved and configured in various ways:
EASY-ENTRY: Front seats slides forwards with the backrest folded forwards to afford the rear seat passengers more room for getting in and out. (standard on three-door)
EASY-VARIO: Both rear-seat cushion sections are folded forward, while the luggage compartment floor can be set to one of two different heights. (standard on five-door; optional on three-door)
EASY-VARIO-PLUS: Both rear-seat cushion and the front passenger seat are folded forward. Increases load capacity to as much as 1995 litres. (optional on five-door)
Seven types of motors are available, and all are four-cylinders: four petrol (gasoline) (A150, A170, A200, A200Turbo) and three diesel (160CDI, 180CDI, 200CDI) partnered with either 5 or 6-speed manual gearbox. A continuously variable transmission system called "Autotronic Constantly Variable Transmission" (CVT) is an optional feature.
The petrol A200 Turbo provides 193 hp (144 kW) and 280 N·m (207 lb·ft) of torque (rotational force); the diesel A200 CDI has 140 hp (104 kW) and 300 N·m (221 lb·ft).
It is estimated that the W169 engines provide a 40% increase in power and a 10% decrease in fuel consumption compared to W168 engines.
The most powerful model can take the car from a standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.0 seconds, and has a top speed of 218 km/h (135 mph).
The newly developed direct-injection CDI diesel units use a common-rail direct injection system that improves fuel consumption and reduces exhaust emissions and noise levels.
All the engines meet the tight EU4 emissions limits. A particulate filter system is available as an option for the diesel units which reduces the particulate emissions by about 99% without the need for additives.
The A-Class is a front wheel drive car and features traction control (ASR) as standard, as well as electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes (ABS).
Handling is improved by precision tracking and anti-roll support, and by a Parabolic Rear Axle.
A "Selective Damping System", in which the shock absorber forces respond differently according to conditions, is standard. For example, under normal conditions it operates at soft absorption; while cornering at speed it changes to full damping force.
The W169 optionally comes with light-alloy wheels, with a run-flat feature, Tirefit tire sealant and a tire-pressure-loss warning device.
Tire sizes are:
185/65 R 15 with wheel trim (classic model)
185/65 R 15 light-alloy wheels (elegance model)
195/55 R 16 light-alloy wheels (avantgarde model)
Mercedes-Benz has announced that they are to stop manufacturing the compact A-Class so they can concentrate more on the upcoming B-Class. The A-Class or Baby-Benz as it was nicknamed has sold 1.5 million of the model since its release in 1997.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class is hoped to become more successful than the A-Class. When the A-Class first hit our streets the vehicle did not get off to a good start, as a car program in the UK managed to almost tip one over when they test drove it. This led to the A-Class being called back to have their suspension up-graded.
1997 marked the inception of the A-Klasse, a compact mini with a unique frame structure and revolutionary safety features. The release of the car brought forth the introduction of the patented "Sandwich" system that pushed the engine block and transmission under the car in the event of a frontal accident. A front-wheel drive layout was chosen fro the car which was as unusual as the vehicle's styling, yet another first for the German manufacturer. Although the car received a 4-star safety rating in 1999 during EuroNCAP tests, it did so after it received an ESP system following its failure in the Swedish "Moose test". The A-Klasse became the first in its class to benefit from an electronic stability program.
Mercedes Benz built traditionally excluding sedans of the upper class, the upper middle class, and (with the 190er starting from 1982) the middle class. The motivation for the entrance into the compact class were on the one hand changed traffic conditions compared to earlier decades (increasing density of traffic in the city centers, shortage of parking space, long of back-up) and with it accompanying needs of the customers, and on the other hand the fact changed that the buyers of Mercedes Benz became on the average ever older passenger cars. A cause for this was a very conservative mark image. With the A-class young buyers should be advanced and bound to the mark "Mercedes Benz". With the organization of the Interieurs and the offered vehicle lacquer finishes in first model years the goal was therefore pursued of radiating young personness and freshness. The A-class was actual then with seniors however in particular likes. These estimated the high seating position and the good all-round visibility. Mercedes Benz adapted to this changed buyer situation: With the "large" model care in the year 2001 the plastics in the Fahrzeuginterieur, whose optics and Haptik were before often felt as cheap, were replaced by materials with high-quality seeming. Appropriate modifications were accomplished also during the operation, with the Fahrzeugexterieur, with the available vehicle lacquer finishes, as well as at the price list, in order to let the product work altogether more gediegener.