Design: Assured presence

May 20, 2008
  • New front-end design conveys superiority and dynamism
  • Additional design features emphasise the individuality of the lines
  • Careful detailed improvements enhance the perceived value of the interior
Short and practical – that was the succinct motto with which Mercedes designers embarked on a completely new challenge in the mid-1990s. The aim was to design an automobile whose unique bodyshell concept demanded equally original design ideas: the A-Class.
The fact that the designers came up with the right ideas is demonstrated by the success of this Mercedes compact car, whose design lines continue to reflect its essential character: youthful, progressive and dynamic.
For the new A-Class, which was presented to the public for the first time in spring 2008, the successful one-box design has been improved upon in a number of details. The aim was to emphasise the presence and superiority of this compact car with tighter, more striking body contours. This was mainly achieved by a revised front-end design with new headlamps, an even more imposing front bumper and a modified radiator grille.
The bumper of the A-Class has a pronounced arrow-shape as a characteristic feature of the Mercedes design idiom. This unmistakably conveys attributes such as forward-flowing energy, performance and agility. It is matched by the sharper contours of the front bumper and its enlarged lower air intake, which emphasises the width of the body and lends it a more muscular appearance.
The radiator grille is more striking than before, and an eye-catching central feature of the front end. The headlamps, bumper, radiator grille and bonnet form an extremely harmonious unit which reflects the greatest precision in both formal and technical terms. In other words, everything appears to be cast from a single mould.
Clearer distinction between the lines
Redesigning the front end provided the opportunity to emphasise the appearance of the lines more clearly, thereby underlining the individual characters of the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models more emphatically. While the lines were previously distinguished mainly by the design of the radiator grille, the front bumper and lower cooling air intake now also act as distinguishing features:
  • In the basic model the louvres in the radiator grille are in dark-grey, and the lower air intake in the bumper is divided by a cross-piece painted in the vehicle colour.
  • In the ELEGANCE line the louvres of the radiator grille are painted in metallic atlas grey, with slim chrome trim strips on the leading edges. The bumper is likewise embellished with chrome inserts, and the foglamps in the bumper’s lower air intakes have chrome surrounds.
  • In the AVANTGARDE line Mercedes-Benz paints the louvres of the radiator grille in iridium silver, emphasising this decidedly elegant look with additional chrome trim strips on the leading edges of the louvres. The front bumper has a distinctive design which emphasises the arrow-shape of the front end. The prominent lower air intake is subdivided by two angled sections. Discreet chrome trim strips and chrome surrounds on the foglamps further enhance the overall appearance.
Elegant side aspect
The A-Class is more elegant than before when viewed from the side, and mainly for two reasons: firstly because the exterior mirror housings and door handles in all lines are painted in the vehicle colour, and secondly because the designers have dispensed with the previous side rubbing strips, which are replaced by fine chrome trim strips in the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models. The wheel embellishers and light-alloy wheels have also been redesigned. The basic model now has a 7-spoke wheel embellisher, while the two lines are shod with eye-catching 16-inch light-alloy wheels in a 10 twin-spoke design (ELEGANCE) and 5-spoke design (AVANTGARDE). The light-alloy wheels are painted in titanium silver.
Powerful highlights at the rear
The new-generation A-Class is also significantly different from the preceding series when viewed from the rear. The rear bumper, tail lights and exhaust tailpipe are in a new design which further emphasises the width of the body to ensure a more muscular appearance. The designers achieved this by reshaping the rear light clusters, whose height has been reduced. As a result they blend into the rear-end design more harmoniously, ensuring an attractive visual transition to the vehicle flanks.
At the rear end, discreet design features serve to differentiate between the lines:
  • In the basic model, the redesigned and ergonomically improved handle of the tailgate is in black.
  • The tailgate handle is chrome-plated in the ELEGANCE line. In addition the rear bumper is upgraded by a reflector-look at both ends, and the oval exhaust pipe has a stainless steel tailpipe.
  • In the AVANTGARDE line the lower section of the rear bumper is distinguished by a black centre section. Standard features also include a chrome-plated tailgate handle, the reflector-look and polished stainless steel exhaust tailpipe.
New fabrics, colours and trim elements in the interior
The first impression when entering the A-Class is one of generous spaciousness. In addition to large window surfaces, this is ensured by a harmonious design
and colour concept which lends the interior a bright, friendly and yet dramatic atmosphere. A high value impression results from the use of first-class materials and a very high standard of finish.
For the new-generation, Mercedes designers have selected new, high-grade upholstery fabrics and door linings which emphasise the homely interior atmosphere. The upholstery fabrics for the basic model are available in single-tone black and orient beige, or in a combination of black/multicolour. In the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE lines the seats impress with an elegant combination of ARTICO man-made leather and fabric available in a choice of three colours: black, orient beige and alpaca grey.
The centre console is attractively bordered by vertical trim strips. In the basic version these border strips are in shining black plastic of high quality, while the ELEGANCE line has trim strips of fine myrtle wood and the AVANTGARDE line a sporty trim of smoke-grey, diagonally brushed aluminium. The inner door panels are also embellished with trim strips made from these materials.
A leather-lined steering wheel, chrome surrounds on the door loudspeakers, a leather-lined shift lever and parking brake lever and the new luxury seating package are further features of the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models. All variants of the A-Class share a larger stowage compartment in the centre console and a newly designed cupholder between the front seats.