Upcoming Mercedes Benz  A Class

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201411 Jul


WHEN: May 2013

HOW MUCH: Rs 15-20 lakh

ENGINES: 1461cc diesel,108 PS, 260 Nm; 1796cc diesel, 134PS and 300Nm;  1595cc petrol, 156 PS, 250 Nm


COMPETITION: Fiat 500, Mini Cooper, Volkswagen New Beetle


The all-new Mercedes-Benz A-class is set to hit the Indian shore by the second half of next year. The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be the second member of the NGCC (new generation compact car) family, after the Mercedes-Benz B-Class which is likely to arrive in India by the end of this year. Further, Mercedes might assemble the new A-Class at its Chakan facility near Pune in Maharashtra, ensuring that the vehicle will be very competitively priced.


The new A-Class will mark an important milestone as part of the company's growth strategy. According to Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, “The A-Class is completely new, down to the last detail. In automotive development, it's not often you get the chance to start with a clean sheet of paper. Our engineers have made the very most of that opportunity.”



The third-generation model has a conventional hatchback silhouette. Sitting on the German automaker’s new MFA (modular front architecture) platform, the new car has been re-engineered from the ground up. The latest A-class adopts a sculptured look with a the front end dominated by wide, two slat grille, angular LED headlamps and distinctive bumper styling, a relatively short bonnet owing to the transverse placement of its engines (the new A-Class is Mercedes’ second front wheel drive vehicle), prominent feature lines along the flanks and a rear end which sports LED taillamps. If you notice closely, the lines on the side are identical to the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Dimensionally, the new A-class is greatly altered over the model it replaces; length is up by 487mm at 4292mm, width increases by 15mm to 1780mm and height drops a considerable 163mm.


These new four-cylinder petrol engines (internal designation M270) mark the launch of a completely new engine series. The combustion process is based on the third-generation Mercedes-Benz direct injection system which was introduced last year with the BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 engines. The new four-cylinder engines have been designed for both transverse and longitudinal installation, and have been used in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. This engine is most likely be used to power the new GLC compact SUV as well, when Mercedes begins assembly in India in 2014. Three petrol and three diesel engines are on offer, but it is not clear as yet which engines will be offered on the Indian market A-Class. However, the engines in the A-Class could be different to the petrol and diesel engines offered in the B-Class.


The engines are mated to a six speed manual gearbox as standard, with a seven speed CVT (continuously variable transmission) offered as an option, unlike the B-Class, which gets a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or DCT.


The 1461cc engine in the A 180 CDI churns out 108PS of maximum power and 260 Nm of peak torque. It emits 98g/km of CO2, the lowest of any Mercedes-Benz. The diesel A200 CDI with a 1.8-litre engine delivers 134PS and 300Nm of torque. Topping the diesel range is the A220 CDI, featuring a  2.1-litre engine pumping 168PS and 350Nm of torque.


The petrol models feature three new turbocharged engines sporting the BlueDIRECT technology. The A180 has a 1.6-litre engine with 120PS and 200Nm of torque. A higher performance engine is used in the A200 with power and torque increased to 154PS and 250Nm. The flagship A250 gets a 2.0-litre petrol turbo with 208PS and 350Nm.


"The new four-cylinder models from Mercedes-Benz occupy a leading position by virtue of their performance, high efficiency and very low emissions. They impress with their smooth, superior power delivery and offer customers refinement at the highest level," says Professor Thomas Weber, Daimler Board Member responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.



The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be offered with disc brakes on all wheels. The "Hold" function, which is familiar from the larger model series, is an interesting feature in the car. When stopping, for example at traffic lights, the driver merely has to press the brake pedal slightly more firmly and the brake will remain engaged until he moves off again. The brake is released automatically when the driver steps on the accelerator. On versions with manual transmission, the "Hill Hold" function automatically prevents the vehicle from rolling back unintentionally when starting on a slope. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is also equipped with an electric parking brake.


Underpinning the new A-Class is a newly developed suspension system also found beneath the B-class. The suspension has a four-link rear axle, electromechanical power steering with assistance functions and ESP® with "Extended Traction Control" (XTC). In the four-link rear axle, forces are absorbed by three control arms and one trailing arm per wheel. This means that longitudinal and lateral dynamics are virtually independent of one another. Wheel carriers and spring links are made of aluminium to reduce the unsprung masses. The goal was to achieve high lateral agility with high driving stability thanks to small sideslip angle on the rear axle.


The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has passed a rigorous programme of crash tests. This includes not only some 30 different impact configurations, which are laid down as requirements for safety ratings and international type approval, but also nine proprietary crash tests, such as the roof-drop test or the pole impact test making the new A-Class a safe car to drive.


But all said and done, considering the price sensitive nature of the Indian consumers, the future of the A-Class looks a little bleak since the price point at which it is likely to be offered is quite steep. Its competitors, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen New Beetle too haven't got the numbers even with a strong retro connections. We are sure, Mercedes will closely monitor the sales figures of the Mini Cooper family of vehicles, introduced in India by BMW. Although assembling the A-Class in India will definitely give Mercedes an opportunity to offer it at a competitive price, but even then, we feel it will be a little too expensive for the Indian market.



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