Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class Real World Photos
The Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class represents some of the best in futuristic design and technology
by John Clark | 10 August 2011
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In 1993 Mercedes-Benz ventured into a completely new vehicle class with the revolutionary Vision A93 concept. The Concept A-Class signals the beginning of a new generation of smaller vehicles with expressive design. Celebrating its premiere at the New York and Shanghai Auto Shows, technical highlights of the Concept A-Class include front-wheel drive, a new turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine developing 210 hp, a dual clutch transmission and a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist.
The Concept A-Class features a long hood, low silhouette, slim side windows and a sophisticated interplay between lines and surfaces. “The Concept A-Class introduces the new Mercedes-Benz design idiom into the premium small car segment in a sculptured, light and expressive interpretation,” says Professor Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz. “We use the term ‘captured energy’ to express the sheer dynamism exuded by the Concept A-Class. Our formal sources of inspiration were the wind and waves, as well as aviation engineering, resulting in this “cool” look.”
New turbocharged gasoline engine, seven-speed dual clutch transmission
The front-wheel drive Concept A-Class ushers in a new premium small car era at Mercedes-Benz and includes a four-cylinder gasoline engine from the new M270 series. The engine was designed for transverse installation and thanks to direct injection and turbocharging offers high performance together with minimal emissions and fuel consumption. Other highlights of the all-aluminum engine include injection pressures of up to 2,900 psi and fast-acting piezo injectors.
The Concept A-Class is equipped with the two-liter variant of the new engine, developing 210 hp. This BlueEFFICIENCY engine is combined with the new Mercedes-Benz dual clutch transmission which has a three-shaft setup with seven forward gears. The transmission shifts automatically with no interruption in tractive power and therefore is more economical, sporty and comfortable.
Exterior design with defined edges and a free interplay of surfaces
One major characteristic of the new design idiom at Mercedes-Benz is the expressive interplay between lines and surfaces – which the designers refer to as a “clean” concept. Thanks to concave and convex surfaces with the resulting light modulation, this creates a unique sculpture-like presence. The Concept A-Class reinforces this theme of defined edges and interacting surfaces, which Mercedes- Benz first showed in the F800 Style. The side view is highlighted by three prominent lines: the front structural edge forms a dropping line towards the rear, while the pronounced shoulder muscle over the rear axle emphasizes the car’s coupelike character. A further line extends upwards in front of the rear wheel arch in a sweeping curve. These lines lend more depth and character to the side profile. The door handles are recessed into the doors and emerge electrically at the touch of a button.
The unusual wing-like structure of the exterior mirrors is suggestive of flow and lightness. Another prominent feature is the open side skirt, which creates an unique light-and-shadow effect. Reminiscent of a turbine rotor, the large 20-inch wheels reinforce the impression that the Concept A-Class has been shaped by the wind.
The front end of the Concept A-Class catches the eye with the Mercedes-Benz emblem surrounded by a star-filled sky. Where there are usually openings or louvers, the radiator grille consists of numerous metallic silver “dots” on black stems. This theme is reflected in the design of the wheels.
The wide rear end exudes power and athleticism, and is enlivened by an interplay between convex/concave surfaces and pronounced edges. The tail lights continue the lines of the muscular shoulders towards the rear, emphasizing the car’s width with their horizontal orientation. The aerodynamic spoiler lip in the tail lights improves efficiency while the diffuser creates a downforce to aid handling.
Interior dominated by designs from aviation engineering
The interior of the Concept A-Class, which is flooded with light from the large panorama roof, appears to be from another planet. Many of the unusual features were inspired by aircraft engineering and reflect ideas from the “Mercedes-Benz Aesthetics No. 2” interior sculpture. Various component groups have been reduced to a minimum, for example the dashboard and center console are merely brushed aluminum structures. The result is a transparent, open, bionic design.
The eye-catching dashboard of the Concept A-Class takes the form of an aircraft wing and has a translucent, stretchable cloth covering. Thanks to this sophisticated fabric, which is vapor-coated with chrome particles, the bionic cellular structure of the dashboard remains visible – its design is reminiscent of a canvascovered aircraft wing with underlying struts. Dramatic backlighting highlights the futuristic instrument cluster which appears to float in space thanks to the translucent dashboard and lack of a conventional support structure. Its lines continue into the door paneling like vapor trails from the wings of a jet.
The air vents in the dashboard are inspired by the engines of a jet aircraft and the translucent backlit vents change color depending on the temperature the passengers have selected for the climate control system – they are blue if cool and red when the heat is on. The prominent gauges in the instrument cluster were inspired by the afterburner of a jet engine and are lit in red. The center console is designed as a high-tech flight control panel with a gear selector in the shape of a “thrust control” lever. With their molded-over head restraints and pronounced lateral support the seats are reminiscent of a pilot seat in a jet fighter.
Titanium and silver tones are combined with a light, elegant beige in the interior. Magenta is used to produce highlights that contrast with the car’s alubeam silver paint finish, which follows the dramatic contours of the exterior like liquid silver.
The Concept A-Class makes use of modern materials such as the high-tech covering on the dashboard, high-grade nubuk leather and metallic-finished leather, which is created by dying semi-aniline with metallic pigments followed by embossing. This links the 125-year tradition of the Mercedes-Benz brand and its future innovation.
COMAND Online with revolutionary graphic design offers ease of use for smartphone applications
A smartphone is fully integrated into the infotainment systems of the Concept AClass. When the phone is inserted into the recess provided in the center console, it is automatically synchronized with the COMAND multimedia system and all the functions of the smartphone, including internet radio, email and social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, are shown as applications on the 7-inch display and operated by the rotary/push control.
The visual presentation of the screen elements is unique with a deep, threedimensional look created by laser-like magenta-colored lines. This nearproduction display was created by designers and engineers at the Mercedes-Benz development laboratory in Palo Alto, California. The menus in the Concept AClass are in both English and Mandarin.
Headlamps with optical fibers produce a unique effect
A very special lighting effect is created by the headlamps of the Concept A-Class, as the innovative full-LED high-performance lights incorporate the starry sky motif of the radiator grille with numerous light points. The daytime running lamps are made of 90 optical fibers with aluminum sleeves and are arranged in a wingshape within the headlamp. The tentacle-like fibers form individual, diffused light sources to create a dramatic contrast between soft and bright.
The LED indicators appear to float freely within the headlamps like an enclosed air bubble in a perfume bottle and create a unique effect from any angle. The indicators are mounted in six chambers at the top of the headlamp and their vaporcoated reflectors remain invisible.
Familiar from the 2012MY CLS-Class, the LED high-performance headlamps of the Concept A-Class combine active lighting functions with LED technology. The projection module of these LED headlamps is no longer round but flatter and more aggressive. This distinct design is reinforced by the matte carbon-fiber housing, which contrasts with the aluminum surround of the projection module.
Optical fibers with aluminum sleeves are also used in the tail lights, using 120 fibers in the C-shaped tail light clusters to create a unique visual effect with their subtle glow. When braking, the continuous light band between the two tail lights also illuminates to make the Concept A-Class appear even wider. The turn signals are self-contained elements within the center of the tail lights. The housing of the tail light is made of carbon-fiber with the numerous red elements providing visual depth.
New assistance and braking system reduces the risk of rear-end collisions
Safety pioneer Mercedes-Benz is showing yet another milestone in automotive safety technology in the Concept A-Class – a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist – a world first in the premium small car segment. This system gives a visual and acoustic warning to an inattentive driver and primes Brake Assist for a precise braking response as soon as the driver presses the brake pedal.
In contrast to other systems available in this class, the new Brake Assist Collision Prevention Assist is not merely an urban driving system designed to minimize the effects of minor collisions. Instead this innovative solution provides protection against typical rear-end collisions in all driving situations and Mercedes- Benz expects the new safety system to greatly improve accident statistics. Following detailed analyses of accident data, Mercedes-Benz safety specialists estimate that this radar-based technology can help to prevent around 20 percent of all rearend collisions, and mitigate the severity of a further 25 percent.