Further development of a distinctive concept
Available from the beginning as three- and five-door models
Premiere of the AUTOTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission
The second generation of the A-Class arrived in 2004 as an even more attractive and innovative interpretation of the idea of a compact car to Mercedes-Benz standards. In its seven-year production period, the first A-Class had convincingly underscored its role as a successful model with more than 1.1 million units sold. In summer 2004 Mercedes-Benz opened a new chapter in this success story with the launch of the second A-Class generation, the 169 series. In the fall of 2004, the new car was available at the dealerships.
The designers had further developed the distinctive one-box concept. Like its predecessor, the second-generation A-Class also has a sloping front section which connects with an arched roof area and a steeply sloping tailback.
Mercedes-Benz demonstrates continuity in the engineering of the A-Class: the basis of the 169 series is once again the unique sandwich structure which affords the A-Class superior occupant safety, exemplary space utilization and great variability. The space provided in the interior has been increased compared with its predecessor and now outclasses comparable vehicles even further. A considerable advancement is also achieved by the A-Class with regard to value appeal. It thus emphasizes its premium status and once again raises the Mercedes-Benz standard which was set by its predecessor in this market segment.
Star Tour for the market launch
Mercedes-Benz celebrated the start of the second-generation A-Class with the Star Tour. In 2004 this program had the slogan "Follow your own Star": 800 selected drivers from 24 countries were given the opportunity to get to know the A-Class intensively before the official market launch over four day-long stages through the most beautiful regions of Europe.
The Star Tour concluded in Milan's Castello Sforzesco. Christina Aguilera appeared and gave the first-ever presentation of her song "Hello" which she composed exclusively for the launch campaign for the new A-Class.
Design and styling using digital technology
When developing the 169 series A-Class, the design engineers relied heavily on digital processes. Even the initial drawings were created on the computers’ graphics tablets. From these drawings the computers then generated data sets which became the basis for three-dimensional representations of the design concept. This approach, which also involved working with full-size projections and representations, allowed a fast pace and simplified amendments to the designs with a high level of precision. Even the improvement of aerodynamic efficiency to a Cd value of 0.29 was carried out by the engineers on the computer and in the model wind tunnel, long before the manufacture of the first full-scale models.
Working with three-dimensional full-scale projections on the so-called powerwall in particular made the formal assessment of designs easier. After selecting six designs, model designers created clay models applying conventional methods – and three of these designs were finally set up as life-size models. Any amendments made to these full-scale models were transferred by the digitization experts directly back into the data set. It was thus constantly updated with the current state of development at every stage of the design process.
Three or five doors
The A-Class is now offered with one wheelbase, but with two bodywork versions each of which has an individual character. In addition to the versatile five-door W 169 Mercedes-Benz offers for the first time in this model series a three-door model whose sporty and particularly youthful image placed it in the tradition of the Mercedes-Benz coupes. Accordingly this bodywork version is also known in-house as C 169. The difference between the two bodywork variants is particularly apparent in the side view.
With its unique bodywork design and the striking one-box design, the Mercedes-Benz stands out from other cars. The line of the bodywork suggests the values of dynamism, intelligence and likeability. Redesigned headlamps, a more distinctive radiator grille, muscular fenders and a sweeping side-line reinforce the compact, dynamic and self-assured image. Changed proportions make the second-generation A-Class visually stronger. Compared with the predecessor model the car is now 232 millimeters longer and 45 millimeters wider.
The 169 series also has a generous interior layout: the car surpasses its predecessor in every dimension relevant for interior comfort. Room at shoulder level increased by up to 97 millimeters, width at the passengers’ elbow level by up to 95 millimeters, and knee room in the rear by 30 millimeters. The distance between the front and rear seats is 805 millimeters and thus the equivalent of a medium-size sedan. The luggage compartment increased to 435 liters; the cargo space can be increased to 1370 liters thanks to the variable interior design. Even more space is created with the optional EASY-VARIO-PLUS system, thanks to which the A-Class holds a maximum load of 1995 liters.
Thanks to the load compartment floor which can be adjusted for height by 90 millimeters, a flat cargo area is created in the rear when the rear-seat backrests are folded away. Since the A-Class is now fitted as standard with the innovative TIREFIT sealant, the spare wheel well serves as storage space. Depending on the height of the floor, the load compartment now has a volume of 67 or 118 liters. An additional stowage compartment is located behind a flap in the right-hand side cladding of the luggage compartment.
At the forefront of technology
The second-generation A-Class also remains true to its reputation as a technological trendsetter - this is assured by the engineers striving to create the best car in this market segment. In total more than 200 patents are implemented in the model. The ground-breaking innovations include a newly developed, efficient seat belt and airbag system. This includes for example adaptive, two-stage front airbags, belt tensioners on the front and outer rear seats, adaptive belt force limiters and newly developed head/thorax side airbags instead of the previous side airbags.
The increased use of higher-strength and ultra-high strength steel alloys, high-strength adhesive bonds as well as additional carrier profiles in the bodywork structure help ensure that the occupants are well protected even in serious accidents.
As regards handling safety and stability, Mercedes-Benz sets new standards in the A-Class with a range of new developments. At the forefront of the chassis technology innovations is the parabolic rear axle which is characterized by precision wheel location and good anti-roll characteristics when cornering. The new rear axle thus plays an important part in the exemplary handling safety, the dynamic handling characteristics and the excellent ride comfort of the A-Class.
The chassis includes a new selective damping system as standard - a world premiere in automotive engineering. Thanks to this technology the shock absorber forces are adjusted according to the driving conditions: in the normal driving style soft shock absorber characteristics ensure that there is very little road roar and tire vibration, while in dynamic cornering the full damping power is available and the A-Class is stabilized to the greatest possible extent.
More output, less consumption
The engines and transmissions of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class now offer more output and torque with exemplary fuel consumption and comfort. This ensures great motoring pleasure with environmentally-compatible fuel economy. The engines were designed in such a way that they can be installed at an angle of up to 59 degrees behind the front axle. The four-cylinder engines thus become crucial components of the intelligent safety concept: in the event of a serious head-on collision they slide downwards, without damaging the passenger compartment.
The range of engines for the second generation consists of seven four-cylinder engines, including three newly developed CDI direct injection units and a gasoline engine with turbocharging. Compared with the predecessor models, the output of the gasoline and diesel engines for the A-Class increased by up to 38 percent; torque was boosted by up to 46 percent. All four-cylinder engines comply with the strict EURO IV emission limits; for the diesel engines a particulate trap is optionally available. Despite the high output, the fuel consumption of the gasoline engines is considerably reduced.
The engine of the A 160 CDI generates 82 hp (60 kW), the A 180 CDI is driven by a 109 hp (80 kW) diesel engine, and the engine of the top-of-the-line model, the A 200 CDI, develops an output of 140 hp (103 kW). The essential differences compared with the predecessor models include the displacement which increased from 1689 to 1991 cubic centimeters, higher ignition pressure and the second-generation common rail injection which operates with double pilot injection, higher injection pressure (1600 bar) and newly developed seven-hole injection nozzles instead of the previous six-hole nozzles. These and other modifications ensure that output and torque are significantly increased which exhaust emissions are reduced and noise levels lowered appreciably. The optional particulate trap reduces the already low particulate emissions by a further 99 percent.
Powerful gasoline engines
Compared with the W 168, the four-cylinder gasoline engines offer an increase in output of up to 38 percent as well as up to 36 percent higher torque. At the same time fuel consumption, exhaust and noise emissions are reduced. The increased output and the higher torque of the new models A 150 with 95 hp (70 kW), A 170 with 115 hp (85 kW) and A 200 with 136 hp (100 kW) are based on a 100 cubic centimeter larger displacement in each case and the use of a variable intake manifold, with the aid of which accelerating power increases in the lower engine speed range.
The top-of-the-line A-Class model is the A 200 Turbo whose engine develops 193 hp (142 kW). The engine is among the most powerful units in its displacement category. It is a newly developed, advanced, lightweight engine with turbocharging and sodium-cooled exhaust valves and generates a maximum torque of 280 Newton meters which is available at an engine speed as low as 1800 rpm. Torque remains constant across broad engine speed range until maximum output is attained at 4850 rpm.
In the second-generation A-Class, Mercedes-Benz for the first time introduced a continuously variable automatic transmission which is optionally available in combination with every one of the engines: AUTOTRONIC ushers in a new era in transmission technology. It operates according to the continuously variable transmission (CVT) principle, in which the gear ratios are continuously changed by means of pulley variator and thrust link belt. The A-Class thus accelerates without interruption of tractive power, and the engine achieves its maximum output faster than with a conventional automatic transmission. What’s more, the continuously variable AUTOTRONIC offers a high level of ride comfort and quiet running. The driver can influence the transmission characteristics by choosing between the comfort and sports mode. The entire AUTOTRONIC system measures only 330 millimeters in length and is thus the world’s most compact continuously variable automatic transmission.
The six-speed manual transmission fitted as standard in the A 180 CDI, A 200 CDI and A 200 TURBO models is also a new development. It is characterized by compact aluminum design high excellent gear-change precision.
Three lines with extensive standard equipment
The 169 model series is offered in three equipment lines: Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde. All three variants come with extensive standard equipment - even the entry-level Classic line features important safety and comfort details as standard, which are not automatically taken for granted in this category of cars. This includes adaptive front airbags, head/thorax side airbags, adaptive belt force limiters, multi-function steering wheel, speed-sensitive power-assisted steering (parameter steering), selective damping system and air conditioning. The Elegance line incorporates additional comfort-enhancing and design details; the Avantgarde line emphasizes its sporty, progressive character with, amongst other things, 16-inch tires and projection-beam headlamps.
Mercedes-Benz has further developed the innovative louvered sunroof of the A-Class: an electrically operated panoramic sunroof is available as an option for the new A-Class, the transparent louvers of which are made of tinted plastic and protected by a scratch-resistant coating which also blocks the transmission of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When the innovative sunroof is opened, first of all the front louver moves into an angled position and remains in this position to serve as a wind deflector.
Exemplary environmental compatibility
The 169 series is impressive in terms of its environmental compatibility, having low pollutant emissions, high fuel economy and low noise levels as well as using recycled and natural materials. In addition to the reduction in emissions during production and use of the vehicle, the conservation of resources plays an important role for Mercedes-Benz in the choice of materials. Both objectives are met with a single concept which is based on balancing the environmental impact of the A-Class over the entire lifecycle of the individual car. During the car’s lifecycle, the carbon dioxide emissions, for example, are around nine percent lower than in the predecessor model.
The A-Class is for the most part made up of materials for which recycling procedures have been developed and tested: 65.7 percent steel and iron materials, 17.7 percent plastics and 7.8 percent non-ferrous metals and light alloys. As many as 54 components with a total weight of 34 kilograms are manufactured from high-quality recycled plastics, and in terms of weight, the proportion of the components made of natural materials increased by 98 percent compared with the W 168. Natural materials are used in the fuel tank ventilation (activated charcoal filter made of olive coke) as well as in the seats (flax) and in the underfloor paneling (abaca fibers which are thought to be the strongest and longest natural fibers in the world).
2005 - Top marks in ADAC breakdown statistics
In the year of the changeover to the second generation, the A-Class was already earning top marks in the ADAC breakdown statistics: in the "lower medium size" category, the smallest Mercedes-Benz scored highly with a breakdown rate of only 2.3 per thousand in 2004.
And in the 2005 ecological rankings of the Öko-Trend environmental institute, the A 160 CDI was awarded the prize for "the most environment-friendly car with conventional drive". This was attributable to this A-Class' low consumption of only 4.9 to 5.3 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers, but also to the increased use of recycled materials and components made from renewable raw materials.
Five stars in the crash test
In the European NCAP crash test (New Car Assessment Program), the A-Class emerged as best in class and received the top grade of five stars. The excellent result once again demonstrates the effectiveness of the patented sandwich safety concept of the A-Class. Because the engine and transmission slide away downwards in the event of a serious frontal impact, a larger crumple zone is available in the front section than in other passenger cars of this size. Moreover the sandwich concept provides advantages in the event of a side impact because the passengers sit higher than in other cars from this market segment.
Adaptive front airbags which deploy in two stages according to the severity of the accident and newly developed head/thorax side airbags also provide comprehensive occupant safety. In the event of a side impact the latter protect the head and chest area of the front passengers in equal measure. A seat belt status display in the instrument cluster informs the driver whether the occupants are buckled up.
The exemplary safety of the A-Class is based on the analysis of real-world accidents. The Mercedes-Benz concept defines vehicle safety as a holistic task encompassing everything from the avoidance of accidents using electronic assistance systems such as ESP® and the BAS brake assist, and occupant protection adjusted to the severity of each accident through to the fastest possible rescue of the occupants after a collision.
2005 - Arrival of the A 200 TURBO
In July 2005 the second-generation A-Class family was complete: the 169 series started out with three diesel and gasoline models in each case. The Mercedes-Benz A 200 TURBO now completes the range. With 193 hp (142 kW) it offers handling like a sports car.
The four-cylinder gasoline model thus guarantees excellent performance. The sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in the A 200 TURBO takes only 7.5 seconds; the top speed is 228 km/h. Despite this, fuel consumption remains comparatively modest at 7.9 liters per 100 kilometers. The A 200 TURBO, like all the A-Class models, is available as a five-door sedan or as a three-door coupe in either Avantgarde or Elegance version.
Since 2005 Mercedes-Benz has been offering a sports package for all A-Class models. Amongst other things this includes 17-inch light-alloy wheels, a perforated radiator grille painted matt silver, sports pedals with rubber studs, a sports shift lever, a steering wheel with a sporty look and perforated leather cover, and an instrument cluster on a silver background.
2005 - 200,000 units in the first year
With the second-generation A-Class Mercedes-Benz was the clear market leader amongst the premium suppliers in this market segment after just one year. In the first twelve months after the launch of the 169 series, more than 200,000 cars were delivered. In Germany alone, around 105,000 buyers had opted for the new edition of the A-Class by the summer of 2005. The most popular engine was the A 180 CDI chosen by a good third of all customers. In second place was the entry-level model A 150 with a share of 25 percent of buyers. The most sought-after optional equipment for the A-Class was the leather steering wheel, the exterior light and sight package and the AUTOTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission.
2006 - 1.5 million A-Class cars
In December 2006 the Mercedes-Benz A-Class broke a new production record: in total 1.5 million units of the compact Mercedes-Benz model had now been built. From 1997 to 2004 the first model series achieved sales of more than 1.1 million units, and 371,700 customers had already opted for the second generation since September 2004.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been produced at the DaimlerChrysler Rastatt plant since 1997. Since 2005 the Mercedes-Benz B-Class has also been coming off the assembly lines here. Today the site employs around 6500 employees; another 1200 people are employed by supplier companies which operate facilities in an industrial park on the plant premises.
The 169 series as reviewed by the press
"A true and in every respect more mature Mercedes." (Darmstädter Echo of July 16, 2004)
"The Mercedes A II can do everything better than the A I. And when the door shuts with a satisfying click, then we acknowledge that the small Mercedes has the virtues of its bigger brothers." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of October 26, 2004)
"In the new small car from Mercedes you feel like you are in an eight-cylinder." (Die Zeit of November 11, 2004)
"The small Mercedes is the most expensive car in this comparative test by a long way. However those who are prepared to accept an additional charge in the region of 5000 euros (compared to the cheapest candidate) will certainly get the safest car in this master test. After all, with their ESP Mercedes does not create a two-class society: this equipment feature which is particularly important for avoiding accidents is equipped strictly as standard." (auto motor und sport of April 13, 2005)