Mercedes-Benz has revealed the concept version of its new A-Class, set for display at the coming Shanghai and New York auto shows. The smallest car in the German automaker’s line, the A-Class is a far cry from the original of 1997. That model’s novel architecture set passengers above the drive train, lending it a podlike quality and a resemblance to the cars of the Smart brand owned by Mercedes.
The exterior forms of the Concept A-Class pick up on the theme of the current Mercedes design laid out by the company’s design chief, Gorden Wagener: “the combination of defined edges and free interplay.”
The hood, surmounting a traverse-mounted, direct-injection, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, is prominent in such a small car. One character line streams back from the front fender, a second swoops along the side and a third anchors the rear wheel of the hatchback configuration.
The combination of taut lines with looping curves may remind some of the swoopy side view of the BMW 1 series. Both cars are small models trying to appear larger and enliven their forms with arcs and curves.
The overall aggressive expression offers compactness without apologies. The car is front-wheel drive and will offer a high-technology radar-based collision warning system with adaptive braking.
The Concept A-Class is dressed out in a bit of show-car bling: a grille with metallic silver hexagons, the company said, evokes “a star-filled sky.” Daytime running lamps made up of 90 optical fibers are arranged in a winglike shape inside the headlamp.
The interior is a reflection of the new Mercedes-Benz interior style, inspired by wind, waves and the romance of flight and showcased in a sculpture unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, called “ambient esthetics” by designers.
The interior, Mercedes-Benz designers say, is “reminiscent of a jet aircraft,” with air vents like jet engines and a winglike dash. The new interior glows red, inspired, the company said, “by the afterburner of a jet engine.” The center console is designed “as a modern flight control panel, with the shift lever designed as a ‘reverse thrust control.’” Would-be pilots should be happy.