Mercedes Benz A Class

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Mercedes Benz A Class Series 1

1997 - 2005
4 cyl.
4 spd. auto
Top Speed:
111 mph / 178 km/h
Number Built:
Mercedes A Class
Mercedes' decision to apply its engineering genius to totally new formats - rather than the further refinement of established designs saw its ultimate realization with the A-class.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class established an entirely new market segment, offering all the Mercedes core values - especially safety, comfort and reliability - as well as the roominess of a mid-size car, and yet it was less than 12 feet long.

A unique double-floor "sandwich" body structure positioned the engine, transmission, suspension and fuel tank underneath the passenger cell.

Designing a supermini that is as safe as a compact executive car and just as roomy seems an impossible contradiction. Mercedes, though, came up with a format that can truly be called revolutionary.

One of the biggest problems in a head-on crash is the damage caused by the engine being driven into the cabin.

To get around this, designed a doubledocker floorpan and mounted the engine block at 45 degrees. In an accident, the engine and transmission are forced under the passengers' feet.

The extraordinary roominess of the A-class comes from a subtle working of the flat floor, upright seating and the ability to place the front passengers nearer the nose.

But Mercedes' massive feat was shattered mid-launch by news that a motoring magazine had rolled an A-class during a test.

After bluffing for a week or two, the mighty Benz succumbed, admitted there was a problem, and redesigned the rear suspension. But the fundamentals remained. The A-class was - like the Austin Mini when it was launched in the 1950s - the shape of future European motoring, and one of the most significant cars ever made.

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Mercedes-Benz Heritage
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