Although currently unavailable in the United States, this mini-Merc is another example of the huge depth of talent most European manufacturers possess but that they have yet to unleash on the American public. To date, it's been felt that US motorists won't respond well to premium small cars, but increasing gas prices are changing the way we all think.
The New-Generation A-Class is now on sale in Europe and is safer, more economical and greener than before. The car was first launched in 1997 and its one of the best-selling models in the Benz range.
The design has been revised and new technical developments have further enhanced levels of safety with crash responsive lighting and adaptive brake lights. The car is more comfortable as a result of new interior materials, with improved adjustment and support in the seats. All models have new infotainment systems with Bluetooth connectivity, and the engines are now more fuel efficient as a result of three new BlueEfficiency models.
From March 2009 an Eco start-stop function will be available on the A 150 and A 170 models with manual transmission. The three-door A 160 CDI will benefit from an optional BlueEfficiency package, which improves fuel consumption of by more than 11%, to 64.2mpg.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is now more youthful than before. The sweeping lines of the new headlamps combine the front and flanks, while the redesigned front bumper reinforces this impression; its lower air intake is much larger, emphasizing the width of the body. The radiator grille is also new.
Upgraded with larger stowage compartments and new fabrics, the seats are upholstered in an attractive combination of Artico man-made leather and fabric in three colors. In addition, new decorative trim of smoke-grey, diagonally brushed aluminum enhances the interior, while wood trim adds to the look and feel of certain models.
With fuel consumption between 42.8 and 64.2mpg, the new A-Class is extremely economical to run. Thanks to the introduction of an optional BlueEfficiency package for the three-door A 160 CDI, fuel consumption of the direct-injection diesel engine has been improved by more than 11% or 6.6mpg compared to the previous model. The package features measures to further improve engine efficiency, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, energy management and weight. It also features a diesel particulate filter. The sum of these measures means the A 160 CDI BlueEfficiency has an impressive fuel consumption of 64.2mpg and as a result the CO2 emissions of the 82hp model are 116g/km.
The ECO start-stop function lowers fuel consumption and exhaust emissions by automatically switching off the engine during idling phases. ECO start-stop will be available from spring '09 for the A 150 and A 170 when twinned with the five-speed manual transmission and both will be badged BlueEfficiency. When travelling at low speed, the driver only needs to shift the manual transmission to neutral and apply the brakes. The engine is then switched off, and the Eco display appears in the instrument cluster.
The A 150 BlueEfficiency (95hp) achieves 48.7mpg, resulting in 139 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. In city traffic, the new Eco start-stop function can result in fuel savings of up to 9%.
The A-Class is the first compact car with an environmental certificate on the basis of emissions and fuel consumption, but it also takes into account the lifecycle of the vehicle. The assessment reveals that CO2 emissions are around 7% lower than the preceding '04 model, and NOX emissions have been reduced by 13%.
The recycling concept of the vehicle is also considered. Up to 95% of the A-Class can be recycled, so already meets the EU regulation coming into force from 2015, with renewable raw materials used during production including flax, olive stones, cotton, coconut fiber, wood veneers and abaca fibers.
The adaptive brake light technology is a standard feature. Under emergency braking above 30mph, the brake lights flash rapidly to warn following traffic, enabling following drivers to respond quicker. Mercedes engineers found the braking response of drivers averaged 0.2sec faster in emergency braking situations if a flashing red warning is given in place of conventional brake lights.
The A-Class continues to set standards in this market segment where occupant protection is concerned and adds crash-responsive emergency lighting for the interior. This is switched on following an accident of a defined severity, providing the occupants with better orientation and helping the emergency services.
Drivers can now opt for active park assist. This system operates up to 25mph and scans the road to identify suitable parking spaces. Once a suitable space is found the driver engages reverse, accepts the identified space and then just needs to accelerate or brake. Active park assist takes over the steering and automatically maneuvers the car into the parking space.
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