New Mercedes-Benz A-Class appealing to younger customers

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 7, 2011

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the Concept A, a preview of its third-generation A-class. This hatchback concept shows off its radical look, stylish interior and revised mechanical layout. The Concept A hatchback is scheduled to make its public debut at the Shanghai motor show in China that starts on April 18.

It will arrive in showrooms in Europe in 2012 but it’s not likely to be offered in the U.S. The existing A class has a one-box profile but the new one will feature a two-box silhouette, which can also be seen on the Audi A3, the BMW 1-series and the Volkswagen Golf.

Mercedes expects that the entry-level will appeal to younger customers as it has been given a fresh design, a more distinct nose section, lower roofline and some attention-grabbing detailing.

This major shift also includes the adoption of a heavily sculptured surfacing treatment and other items that are visible in a batch of new Mercedes concepts, such as the F800 Style that came out last year. Among its prominent details is a soft nose treatment with an oval-shaped grille similar to what the range-topping SLS AMG has.

The stunning look also gets an extra-large version of Mercedes' three-pointed star as well as distinctively shaped headlamps with complex LED internal graphics, deep lines that run the flanks, a high waistline, shallow side glass, horizontal tail lamps and an angled tailgate. Of course, this level of detailing won’t make it to the production version of the new A-class that will be sold in Europe next year but the general shape and appearance will be kept.

It has a fascia that’s mounted lower than the existing second-generation A-class and it also borrows the aeronautical theme that was first seen on the SLS. But then, it also has modern elements like brushed-aluminum trim items, a free-standing monitor, and back-lit instruments.

The expressive interaction between lines and surfaces is a key feature of the latest design style at Mercedes-Benz. This is what designers point out as a "Clean Concept”. This creates a distinctive sculpture-like presence due to concave and convex surfaces that result to a light modulation. The A-Class Concept undoubtedly continues this theme consisting of marked edges and combined surfaces first shown in the Mercedes-Benz F800.

Its side view is constructed with three prominent lines, wherein the front edge forms a line dropping into the rear while the striking shoulder muscle above the rear axle highlights the vehicle’s coupé-like character. An additional line extends up in a sweeping curve to the front of the rear wheel arch. These lines provide the side profile with added depth and dynamism. The door handles are embedded into the doors but electrically appear when a button is pressed.

The unconventional, wing-like construction of the exterior mirrors suggests flow and lightness. Its open side skirt is another prominent feature that produces a unique light-and-shadow effect. The huge 20-inch wheels, which bring to mind a turbine rotor, support the impression that the A-Class Concept has been formed by the wind.

The A-Class Concept’s front end is truly eye-catching. Its brand logo seems to be encircled by a stellar sky. Wherever apertures/louvres usually are, the radiator grille comes with many metallic silver dots seen on black stems, a theme mirrored in the design of the wheels.

The vividly broad rear end radiates power and dynamism and is also vitalized by an exchange between concave/convex surfaces and clear-cut edges. Tail light clusters extend the lines of the muscular shoulders into the rear, highlighting the width by means of their horizontal orientation. The aerodynamic lip spoiler within the tail lights enhances efficiency and the diffuser generates a downforce to help in roadholding.

Interior Dominated by Connections with Aviation Engineering

The Mercedes A-Class Concept’s interior, saturated with light coming from the huge panoramic roof, also seems to come from another planet. Most of its unique features got their inspiration from aircraft engineering while borrowing ideas from the interior sculpture of the Mercedes Aesthetics No. 2. Various component groups have been minimized. For example, its center console and dashboard have been reduced to brushed aluminum parts. This results to a light, transparent, bionic design effect.

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