Larger interior dimensions, the spaciousness and comfort of a luxury-class saloon, impressive adaptability and class-leading cargo volume are the highlights of the new 170-mm longer Mercedes-Benz A-Class which is going on sale in Europe shortly.
With this long-wheelbase version, the A-Class continues to set new standards among compact cars. No other car in this segment can match its cargo capacity of up to 1,930 litres – 11% more than that of the standard version which went on sale in 1997. Still remarkable is the efficient way that space is utilised: thanks to the innovative sandwich design with the powertrain elements positioned either underneath the passenger compartment or in front of it, 53 % of the car’s total length of 3.78 metres – significantly more than for conventional cars of this size – is available for the occupants.
MORE SPACE FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT
“With this kind of spaciousness, we can now at last satisfy people who in the past were already won over by the design and concept of the A-Class but who needed more space for their own particular requirements” says Dr. Joachim Schmidt, member of the Divisional Board of Management for Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars and smart and Head of Sales & Marketing. In his opinion, this addition to the A-Class range offers significant potential for an increase in sales. More than 550,000 units of the standard version have already bene sold in Europe and Asia since 1997.
Spaciousness is the most significant thing in this new A-Class version, with accommodation previously unknown in this vehicle class. The extended wheelbase offers rear passengers 170 mm more legroom and a hip-to-hip distance between front and rear occupants of 945 millimetres. Mercedes-Benz claims that these dimensions beat those found in many luxury-class saloons.
Thanks to the versatile rear bench seat, with 111 mm fore-and-aft adjustment, drivers can decide whether to use the extra space to extend the rear compartment or the load area. Even with the rear seats moved to the maximum forward setting, there’s still 60 mm more legroom for rear seat passengers in the new A-Class, compared to its shorter brother.
With the rear seat in this same position, the load compartment space is increased by 80 litres, to 470 litres. When they are both lifted out, the luggage capacity of this version (loaded to the ceiling) is boosted to 1,530 litres. Even in a larger stationwagon, such a volume would be significantly above average.
PACKAGE OF REFINEMENTS
An extensive package of engineering and design refinements makes both versions of the updated A-Class for 2001 even more attractive and luxurious. Restyling at the front of the vehicle, with eye-catching front bumper contours, the lower part of which features a redesigned air inlet, gives an even sharper, more dynamic appearance and makes the body appear broader and strikingly athletic. Also new are the organically integrated, replaceable rub strips on the front bumper and the state-of-the-art clear-plastic headlamp lenses which add further ‘brilliance’ to the appearance of the smallest Mercedes model.
As far as luxurious looks and high build quality are concerned, the interior of the A-Class matches the high standards of larger Mercedes saloons. The use of equally first-class materials which Mercedes-Benz also uses in the S-class makes the dashboard soft and pleasant to the touch. The entire cockpit has been redesigned, with a new, smooth transition to the front windscreen, while preserving the strikingly dynamic lines. Discreet restyling of various details has further enhanced the appearance of the dashboard, making it appear as if cast in a single piece.
The new, more modern centre console treatment has its top part slightly wider than before and is more sharply raked, giving the driver and front passenger a better view of the controls. The positioning and design of the switches reflects the latest ergonomic advances derived from real-world research. The most frequently used buttons and the radio have been moved to the top, while the controls for heating and ventilation now occupy the lower part of the console.
MORE POWERFUL CDI ENGINES
From this month, the two common-rail direct-injection (CDI) turbodiesel engines will be developing up to 25% more power than before. For example the 4-cylinder engine in the A 160 CDI (only available for the short version) will eventually be equipped with an intercooler and develop 55 kW/75 bhp, instead of the previous 44 kW/60 bhp. Fuel consumption however will still remain at 20 kms/litre (58.7 mpg). The output of the A 170 CDI will rise from 66 kW/90 bhp to 70 kW/95 bhp. The three petrol engines remain unchanged.
The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) has undergone further development and is fitted as standard. This latest-generation system functions even more smoothly and, for the first time, is combined with a new hydraulic Brake Assist system which develops maximum braking power in emergency situations, thus shortening stopping distances to a minimum.