What a remarkable transformation from the upright and dowdy A-Class of today to this new Concept A-Class, which is making its world premiere at the Shanghai Auto Show on 21st April 2011.
First impressions count in this sector and my first impression is, “where do I sign?”, so the omens are good for the Concept A-Class if/when it reaches production late next year.
Design is an important feature of a car whose purpose is described as “…ushering in a new compact class era at Mercedes-Benz.”
I remember driving the oddball A-Class back in ’97 when it was first launched, collecting the keys from the Sixt hire car desk at Geneva airport, then driving the 100km or so to a business conference I was there to attend. It was good to be behind the wheel of a Mercedes, especially one so innovative, but upon arrival at my hotel, the howls of laughter from colleagues took the shine off Mercedes new “Kinder Box”. This new A-Class looks like making a very different first impression.
A long bonnet, low silhouette and slim window areas of the Concept A-Class suggest concentrated dynamism, according to Mercedes. The car’s sporty appearance is further emphasised by the interplay between lines and surfaces – representing the wind and the waves – and was further inspired by aviation engineering both outside and in its interior design.
The design was first shown at last year’s Geveva Motor Show in the F 800 Style – a car which pointed the way towards a future CLS, and it’s good to see its design language applied to the compact class rather than just top-of-the-range models.
But isn’t this JUST another concept car?
Judging by the amount of development under the skin of the Concept A-Class, this is a model set for production and not just the bright lights of motor shows. Technical highlights include a new, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the new M270 series, a new Mercedes-Benz dual clutch transmission and a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist.
The BlueEFFICIENCY unit was designed for transverse installation, and thanks to direct injection and turbocharging it offers high performance potential together with minimal emissions and fuel consumption. The Concept A-Class is equipped with a two-litre variant of the new engine, developing 207bhp, a strikingly familiar figure that positions it on a par with the Audi TT and VW Scirocco 2.0 GT.
As a world first in the compact class, the concept car features a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist, which lowers the risk of rear-end collisions. This assistance system, Collision Prevention Assist, gives a visual and acoustic warning to a possibly inattentive driver, and prepares Brake Assist for an absolutely precise braking response. This is initiated as soon as the driver emphatically operates the brake pedal.
Whilst the sporty Coupe profile of this Concept A-Class is an attention-grabber, expect to see a more versatile hatchback variant arriving first to replace today’s A-Class, but with (hopefully) the Coupe following shortly after.
The Concept A-Class will be on show at the Shanghai Auto Show between 21 – 28 April 2011, but Mercedes have not as yet confirmed if and when we might see it reach production.