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Six engines, from 109hp to 211hp... in dealerships this fall (1 of 3 >>>)
Third generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class metamorphosis
From a small MPV to a bigger sporty premium compact car

Bechara Aboul-Nasr, 12 March 2012:

Third generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W176) premium compact car: front-side view.

New face of the A-Class: 2-box, 5-door hatcback (A 180 CDI).

When Mercedes-Benz claims that it is "opening up a... new chapter" with the new A-Class generation, it may not mean that this chapter is only about the move of this model's dimensions into the compact cars segment. It is a deeper change which covers also the body style, design and target audience, and even the launch context, if we want to stretch our memory a bit.

Back in 1997, the launch of the first generation A-Class got plenty of coverage, but... not the kind Mercedes-Benz hoped for. If you don't remember the "elk test" episode, you can read about it in the history of the A-Class in Wikipedia, although the story has nothing to do with the 2nd and now the all-new 3rd generation A-Class.

3rdgeneration Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W176)  premium compact car: rear-side view.

Dynamic personality in the premium layer of the C-segment.

Anyway, most of what remains from that episode is that, besides the suspension retuning, all A-Class versions got standard ESP. Not bad for customers at the time. Sales of that generation were also sufficient to make the A-Class a familiar face practically everywhere. Not bad for the carmaker either.

Today, the all-new A-Class which is having its world première at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show (8 to 18 March), before it makes its way to European dealerships this fall, is the third-generation (W176) of the model, after the first one (W168) served from 1997 to 2004, and the second (W169) which is retiring after eight years of service.

 New path

All-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W176) premium compact car: profile view.

Six engines with power ranging from 109 hp to 211 hp.

So, the whole new chapter Mercedes-Benz is talking about is not a mere marketing argument, since the new A-Class is not that small MPV we knew in the first and second generations. Today, the B-Class brother is filling that MPV role, and in compact rather than small dimensions.

Presented last spring as an A-Class Concept at the Auto Shanghai show, the new A-Class is now targeting its traditional German rivals, the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series, not to speak about others such as the new Volvo V40, with more direct arguments, as it has metamorphosed into a dynamic, compact 5-door hatchback with engine power ranging from 80 kW (109 hp, 107 bhp) for the entry-level diesel, to 155 kW (211 hp, 208 bhp) for the new 2.0-litre petrol (gasoline) version.

Third generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class premium compact car: A 180 CDi with the "night package"

Optional ambient lighting in the opening of the front seats.

Moreover, like the first A-Class got equipped with standard ESP, the standard specification of the all-new one includes now also the radar-based Collision Prevention Assist system.

 Body

The new A-Class looks clearly dynamic – is it too hard after the MPV shape of the previous generations ? – with a body that is 4,292mm long (about 40cm longer than the previous A-Class, which had subcompact, or B-segment dimensions), 1,780mm wide (about 1cm wider) and 1,433mm high (about 17cm lower).

The new A-Class is also about 7cm shorter, 1cm narrower and 13cm lower than the B-Class brother, sitting up to 18 centimetres closer to the road than its minivan-style predecessors.

So, instead of the previous "monospace" form, here comes the far more sporty two-box design, targeting a younger audience, while leaving the MPV sector to brother Bob, for B-Class of course.

For the same purpose, the new A-Class interior has its trim surfaces treated with an electroplated finish in "silver chrome", to give a metallic surface with "cool touch" effect (see the design section), in addition to other visually dynamic touches in the air vents shape.

Options include integral seats in the front, with a similarly sporty looking rear seat which can accommodate up to three passengers, or the possible full integration of new smartphones into the operating and display system, since a special app makes it possible to use the full functionality of the iPhone, and later also other smartphones, in the car.

  Continue >>>

All the aerials are concealed within the standard roof spoiler which contributes to the aerodynamic Cd value of 0.26... >>>

 

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