07 March 2012

Mercedes-Benz debut the new A-Class at Geneva

Mercedes has ditched the mini MPV design concept of its A-Class to welcome a sharper, sportier and low slung hatchback design concept for the latest A-Class model. Officially unveiled in Geneva motorshow, the new A-Class is now a sleek hatchback measuring 4,292mm long, 1,780mm wide and 1,433mm tall. The car is a massive 409mm longer, a scant wider by 16mm and equally massive 160mm lower compared to the previous A-Class. 

The first and second generation of Mercedes A-Class
In a way, the original A-Class was an innovative piece of engineering with its patented "sandwich" platfrom which allows the engine to slide down and rearwards in the event of an accident to better protect the occupants in what essentially a much shorter chassis than any contemporary Mercedes-Benz car at that time. Although plaque by the 'elk test' earlier in its life cycle, Mercedes has succeed in rectifying that by modifying the suspension and include the stability control systems with the car. The second generation of A-Class introduced in 2004 continues with the same format, with further refinement to the "sandwich" platform which has been redesigned to correct the original W168 faulty ride and handling. With W169, Mercedes has succeeded in  improving the ride and handling as well as injected some touch of class in the cabin architecture and material usage.
The third generation model is however entirely different in concept. It rides on all-new platform dubbed MFA (Modular Front Architecture) that features a transverse drivetrain packaging driving the front wheel. This essentially differentiate the new A-Class from its Munich rival, the new 1-Series. Adopting a FWD layout may means the deletion of the ultimate driving satisfaction provided by the RWD setup, but it should give the new A-Class an advantage in more efficient interior packaging.
The new A-Class adopts the latest Mercedes corporate face in the shape of prominent bulging headlamps consistent with the new SL-Class. The front grille is distinctively more upright. At the side, there's strong character line that sweep deep from the waist and curved upwards as it approach the rear end. The rear fascia is very well sculpted in design, with the rear light pushed outwards. Overall, the new A-Class has a more planted stance than the weedy foot print of the current model. For an added dose of aggressiveness, Mercedes also offered a Sport version which for the first time, the performance specialists from AMG were involved in the development of the compact class from a very early stage. The result is the most dynamic version of the new model series - 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. Hints of red on the AMG front and rear aprons also serve to emphasise the expressive positioning of the new model.
The interior is an amalgamation of the trend originally set by the SLS with retro-inspired circular aircond vent and a flat centre console design. However, the A-Class, not unlike the B-Class has been fitted with the free-standing screen at the top of the console. All trim surfaces feature an electroplated finish in "silver chrome", giving them a genuine metallic surface with "cool touch" effect. There is also 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.

For the engine option, both gasoline and diesel are available from the launch, where all of them are turbocharged and paired with ECO start/stop function to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emission. For the first time, Mercedes-Benz has achieved the emissions of just 99 g/km of CO2 with this model.

The petrol engines are available with a displacement of 1.6L and 2.0L. The line-up starts with A180 with 1.6L turbo producing 115 hp followed by A200 with same engine, albeit with higher-tuned to produce156 hp. A250 uses the turbocharged 2.0L lump kicking out 211 hp. All of these petrol engines feature the aforementioned turbocharging, as well as direct injection systems with 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. The 1.6L engine features the new valvetrain system dubbed CAMTRONIC where it is capable of 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 also offer an impressively high level of efficiency thanks to a sophisticated injection technology and turbocharging. The A180 CDI is powered by 1.8L lump offering an output of 109 hp and 250 Nm of power and torque, while the same engine in A200 CDI has a maximum output of 136 hp and 300 Nm. The A220 CDI is equipped with a 2.2L version, punching out 170 hp and 350 Nm. All engines can be paired either with the new six-speed manual transmission or, as an option, with the 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The new A Class will reach the dealership by September 2012. However, as per the Volvo's move with the new V40, this car will not be going to the US. More photos of the new Mercedes A-Class can be found after the jump.

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