Mercedes-Benz Concept Vehicles –
the Shape of the Future
Announcing a new compact class: Concept A-Class
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.
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Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class, concept vehicle for a new compact class from Mercedes-Benz, unveiled at the Auto Shanghai 2011 in April 2011.
Facts
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
Technical highlights
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
Powertrain
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. 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.
Exterior
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 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.
Interior
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.
As an extremely eye-catching detail in the Concept A-Class interior: the dashboard in the form of an aircraft wing with a translucent, stretchable textile lining. The form of the air vents in the dashboard was likewise inspired by the engines of a jet aircraft. The translucent, backlit vents changed colour depending on the temperature the occupants selected for the climate control system: blue if cool, fresh air was vented into the interior, but red if the airflow was heated.
Digital Lifestyle
A smartphone featuring all the applications, services and contents of the digital lifestyle was fully integrated into the operating concept of the Concept A Class. When the phone was inserted into the recess provided in the centre console, it was automatically synchronised with the COMAND multimedia system. All the functions of the smartphone, including internet radio, email and social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, were shown as applications on the 17.8 centimetre display and could be operated via the rotary/push control.
Safety
In the Concept A-Class, safety pioneer Mercedes-Benz showed another milestone in the democratisation of automotive safety technology: the concept car was equipped with a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist – a world first in the compact class. This system gives a visual and acoustic warning to a possibly inattentive driver, and prepares Brake Assist for an absolutely precise braking response which is initiated as soon as the driver decisively operates the brake pedal.
In contrast to other systems available in the market for the compact class, the new Brake Assist Collision Prevention Assist was not merely an urban driving system designed to minimise the effects of minor collisions. Instead this innovative solution aimed to provide protection against typical rear-end collisions in all driving situations.
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