- Vehicle: Concept A-Class
- When: April 2011
- Where: Auto Shanghai 2011, Shanghai
- What: new-generation compact class from Mercedes-Benz
- Drive system: four-cylinder 2-litre internal combustion engine with 155 kW (210 hp), 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
- New 270 model series turbocharged four-cylinder internal combustion engine with direct injection, up to 200 bar injection pressure with fast-response pìezo injectors
- COMAND Online multimedia system, use of smartphone functions such as Internet radio, E-mail and social networks as applications on a 17.8-centimetre display, operated via rotary-push control knob
- LED high-performance headlamps, daytime running lamps and tail lamps with glass fibre elements in aluminium sheaths
- Radar-based collision warning with Adaptive Brake Assist as a world premiere for compact class vehicles
A long bonnet, low silhouette and slim window areas: the proportions of the Concept A-Class presented at the Shanghai Motor Show stand for concentrated dynamism. Its sporty appearance is given particular depth by the interplay between lines and surfaces. ‘The Concept A-Class introduces the new Mercedes-Benz design idiom into the compact class in a sculptured, light and expressive interpretation,’ said Professor Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz. ‘We use the term “captured energy” to express the sheer dynamism exuded by the Concept A-Class. Our formal sources of inspiration were the wind and waves, as well as aviation engineering, resulting in this “cool” look.
Not only visually, but also technologically, the Concept A-Class was set to usher in a new compact class era at Mercedes-Benz. This front-wheel drive model was powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine from the new M 270 series. It was designed for transverse installation, and thanks to direct injection and turbocharging it offered a high performance potential together with minimal emissions and fuel consumption. Other highlights of the all-aluminium engine include injection pressures of up to 200 bar and fast-responding piezo injectors.
The Concept A-Class was equipped with the two-litre variant of the new engine, delivering 155 kW (210 hp). This BlueEFFICIENCY unit was combined with the new Mercedes-Benz dual clutch transmission. As a three-shaft transmission, it featured seven forward gears, shifted automatically without any interruption in tractive power, making the new transmission particularly economical, sporty and comfortable.
One major characteristic of the new design idiom at Mercedes-Benz was the expressive interplay between lines and surfaces – which the designers refer to as a ‘clean’ concept. Concave and convex surfaces with the resulting light modulation create a unique sculpture-like presence. The Concept A-Class emphatically continued this theme of defined edges and interacting surfaces, which Mercedes-Benz first showed in the F 800 Style.
Three prominent lines structured the side view: the front structural edge formed a dropping line towards the rear, while the pronounced shoulder muscle over the rear axle emphasised the car’s coupé-like character. A further line extended upwards in front of the rear wheel arch in a sweeping curve. These lines lent depth and dynamism to the side profile. The door handles were recessed into the doors, emerging electrically at the touch of a button.
The unusual, wing-like shape of the exterior mirrors embodied flow and lightness. Another prominent feature is the open side skirt, which created an unusual light-and-shadow effect. Reminiscent of a turbine rotor, the large 20-inch wheels reinforced the impression that the Concept A-Class was shaped by the wind.
The front end of the Concept A-Class is a real eye-catcher. The brand emblem appeared to be surrounded by a starry sky. Where there are otherwise apertures or louvres, the radiator grille consisted of numerous metallic silver ‘dots’ on black stems a theme also reflected in the design of the wheels.
The visually wide rear end radiated power and athleticism, and was likewise enlivened by an interplay between convex/concave surfaces and pronounced edges. The tail lamp clusters continued the muscular shoulders towards the rear emphasising the car’s width with their horizontal orientation. The aerodynamic spoiler lip in the tail lights improved efficiency, while the diffuser created a downforce to aid roadholding.
The interior of the Concept A-Class, which is flooded with light from the large panoramic roof, likewise appears to be from another planet. Many of the unusual features were inspired by aircraft engineering, at the same time reflecting ideas from the ‘Mercedes-Benz Aesthetics No. 2’ interior sculpture of 2011. Various component groups were reduced to a minimum, for example the dashboard and centre console are merely brushed aluminium structures. The result is a transparent, light, bionic design effect.