Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new A-class model line, all targeted at the US market. The redesigned A class five-door hatchback, already the third generation, also comes in coupe and wagon variants as well as a crossover-like vehicle. All models will be marketed in the US except for one. Mercedes is planning to produce a three-door hatchback, which might not land in American soil.
Slated to arrive in 2014, the third-generation A class models are touted to be the smallest Mercedes cars ever sold in the United States. European drivers do not have to wait that long though; since they can grab any of the A class models this fall.
This is the first time Mercedes will market the A class in the US, since the situation back then would prove non-profitable for the first and second generation models.
This time, it is different though: higher gasoline prices, tough fuel economy regulations and changing customer preferences convinced Mercedes executives and U.S. dealers to finally market the A class to the US, expecting sales to exceed 15,000 annually.
BMW is already selling a similar-size model in the US, the 1 series, but the sales figures were not good. US Sales for 1 series were down 33% in 2011 to just 8,832 units.
And for the first two months of the year, sales were down 25%. Not good! With regards to the A-class five-door hatchback, the closest competitor it might have is the 2012 Ford Fiesta five-door hatchback. In terms of length and width, the A class and the Fiesta are very close.
Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz Head of Design, says that translating the brand’s new dynamic style into the compact class has been a fun challenge. According to him, no other car in the compact segment is as progressive as the Benz A-Class. He adds that the A-Class’ sculptural shape is typical for the brand and that its character lines on the sides give it terseness and structure. The A-Class’ new dynamic style can be seen in its interior at first glance, too.
Moreover, the new A-Class’ exterior design is marked out by its defined edges and its tautly drawn surfaces. Also, the interaction between convex and concave surfaces creates a play of light, especially along the car’s sides. This contributes to the unique look of the A-Class models.
The car’s separate headlamps, its pronounced V-shape, its radiator grille with the Mercedes-Benz star logo on the center and the double slats on either side of this star, plus its additional air intakes at the sides are all typical features of its long, sporty front.
Its "dropping line," which is apparent in its side profile, dissipates towards its front end. Also, its headlamp design, along with the configuration of light functions, is a core element of the A-Class’ design concept.
Additionally, the light modules and the LEDs behind the car’s headlamp cover glass are arranged so as to create the "flare effect" for the indicators and the daytime driving lights. The feature line in the headlamp, the bulbs for the indicators, and the LED modules for daytime running lamps are actually what make up the so-called “flare.” This signature effect lends an energetic look to the car and helps define a new and youthful face for the brand.
This perfect interplay between dynamic design and outstanding aerodynamics is most apparent in the car’s roof, with smooth surfaces and taut, arching curve. The car’s silhouette also reveals smooth, fluid lines ending in a flat edge. Its roof spoiler, which hides all the aerials conveniently, provides an additional sporty touch and structure to its roof assembly.
The car’s beltline rises to its rear, forming a pronounced wedge-shape. Meanwhile, its side view is easily distinguished by sensuously molded and sculptural side panels as well as crisp lines.