Mercedes-Benz A-Class First generation
|Production||1997–2004 1999–2005 (Brazil) -2005 (Japan)|
|Assembly||Germany: Rastatt Brazil: Juiz de Fora Thailand: Thonburi (TAAP)|
|Body style||5-door hatchback|
|Wheelbase||2,423 mm (95.4 in) 2,593 mm (102.1 in)|
|Length||3,606 mm (142.0 in)|
|Width||1,719 mm (67.7 in)|
|Height||1,587 mm (62.5 in)|
|Designer(s)||Steve Mattin (1994)|
The A-Class began in 1997. Its front engine, front wheel drive layout was quite unusual for Mercedes. To date, about 1.6 million units have been sold worldwide.
One innovation of the W168 was a frontal-impact absorption system called the "Sandwich" (see patents DE4326 9 and DE4400132 in the name of Mercedes-Benz). In the event of a violent frontal impact, the engine and transmission would slide underneath the floor below the pedals rather than entering the passenger compartment.
The W168 became infamous in 1997 after flipping over during the traditional "elk test" performed by the Swedish automobile publication Teknikens Värld. According to the report, the W168 overturned when manoeuvring to avoid the "elk". Mercedes initially denied the problem, but then took the surprising step of recalling all units sold to date (2,600) and suspending distribution until the problem was solved by adding electronic stability control and modifying the suspension
A 160 Limited (2000-)
A 160 Limited is a limited (500 in Ember Red body colour, 500 Ocean Blue body colour) version of right drive A 160 for Japan market. It included suede blue interior colour (fabric), integrated child safety seat, lamellar roof, 6-disc CD changer.
The vehicle went on sale on 2000-01-31.
A 160 AVANTGARDE Limited (2000-)
A 160 AVANTGARDE Limited is a limited (600 units) version of A 160 AVANTGARDE for Japan market. It included Snow White body colour, Straight Grey interior colour (fabric leather combination seat), AVANTGARDE package (silver front grill, unique design alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tip, white meter cluster, AVANTGARDE emblem).
As part of A-Class product sales in Japan, A-Class vehicle buyers between 2000-06-01 and 2000-07-31 got a choice of 1.9% financing via auto loan, welcome plan, or special lease programme.
As part of A-Class product sales in Japan, A-Class vehicle buyers between 2000-09-01 and 2000-10-31 got a choice of 0.9% financing via auto loan, welcome plan, or special lease programme.
As part of celebrating the sales of 500000 A-Class vehicles worldwide in Jaapn, A 160 and A 190 AVANTGARDE vehicle buyers between 2000-11-06 and 2000-12-31 got a choice of 0.9% financing via loan, lease, or welcome plan; or 1 free vehicle inspection package for the first 3 years of vehicle registration.
As part of A-Class product launch in Japan, A 160 and A 190 AVANTGARDE buyers between 2001-03-01 and 2001-04-30 got a choice of 0.9% financing via loan, lease, or welcome plan; or 1 free vehicle inspection package for the first 3 years of vehicle registration, or receiving Mercedes-Benz coupons for Mercedes-Benz accessories or collection items worth ¥100000.The plan was later expanded to buyers of all A-Class vehicles between 2001-05-08 and 2001-07-31.
Mercedes-Benz facelifted the W168 in 2001.
A 160 AVANTGARDE Limited (2001-)
A 160 AVANTGARDE Limited is a limited (600 units) version of right drive A 160 ELEGANCE with AVANTGARDE equipment, for Japan market. It included Snow White body colour, Straight Grey interior colour (fabric leather seat), AVANTGARDE package (silver front grill, 15-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, AVANTGARDE emblem, unique design centre pillar, unique design rear combination lamp, chrome exhaust tip, fabric leather seat, aluminium panel at centre console and door trim, white meter panel).
The vehicle went on sale on 2001-11-01.
A 160 AVANTGARDE Limited (2002-)
A 160 AVANTGARDE Limited is a limited (600 units) version of right drive A 160 ELEGANCE with AVANTGARDE equipment, for Japan market. It included Snow White body colour, Straight Grey interior colour (fabric leather seat), AVANTGARDE package (silver front grill, 15-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, AVANTGARDE emblem, unique design centre pillar, unique design rear combination lamp, chrome exhaust tip, fabric leather seat, aluminium panel at centre console and door trim, white meter panel, 6-disc CD changer).
The vehicle went on sale on 2002-12-02.
A 210 Evoluton L (2002-)
It is a version of long wheel base A-Class vehicle with 2.1-litre engine, sport suspension, 17-inch AMG 5-spoke alloy wheels with wide tyres, drilled bench rated front disc brake, AMG Design styling package (front spoiler, side and rear skirts), red stripe (side, rear), evolution design front grill, Winker interior body-coloured door mirror, wind deflector at rear window, dual chrome exhaust tips, evolution design Alcantara/leather seat, rear row-independent detachable seat with arm rest (total 4 passengers), evolution design leather upholstered steering wheel, leather upholstered matte chrome shift knob, brushed aluminium panel and door trim, silver meter panel, acceleration and brake pedals with rubber stud, unique design floor mat.
Japan model went on as right drive A 210 L Evoluton on 2003-05-02 in limited quantities (200 units).
A 160 Limited, A 160 ELEGANCE Limited (2003-)
A 160 Limited is a limited (300 units) version of right drive A 160 for Japan market. It included Galaxy Black body colour, leather seat in suede blue, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, unique 6-spoke alloy wheels.
A 160 ELEGANCE Limited is a limited (300 units) version of right drive A 160 ELEGANCE for Japan market. It included Comet Grey body colour, leather seat in straight grey, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (from ELEGANCE equipment trim).
The vehicles went on sale on 2003-09-01.
A 160 Piccadilly Long Limited (2003-)
It is a limited (250 units) version of right drive A 160 ELEGANCE Long with A 190 AVANTGARDE equipment, for Japan market. It included AVANTGARDE package (silver front grill, AVANTGARDE design centre pillar, dark bi-chromatic combination lamp, chrome exhaust tip, aluminium panel/white meter panel), Piccadilly package (unique design 16-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, Piccadilly side emblem, Piccadilly shift knob emblem, unique floor mat), 6-disc CD changer.
The vehicle went on sale on 2003-12-08.
A-Class "Piccadilly" (2004-)
It is a special package for for A 160 CLASSIC and A 160 long wheelbase CLASSIC. It included a leather-covered steering wheel and shift lever over the extra equipment made available to the A-Class CLASSIC model. Other features included 16-inch light-alloy wheels in a five-spoke design, choice of 2 extra body colours (alpine blue, tropical black).
The vehicles were unveiled in 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Australian model went on sale in early May 2004.
DaimlerChrysler invested EUR 900 million in developing the Rastatt plant where the A-Class is produced, and created 1600 new jobs (for a total of 4700). A further 600 people work on the industrial estate (palatial estates for upper management) at the plant site.
Studies of the time dictated that the project plan from the factory to the city of Campinas, in São Paulo, would be the most suitable for the production of a car in Brazil. Apart from being next to the airport of Viracopos, had adequate space for both the new factory of Mercedes-Benz, and for the installation of suppliers.
In 1992, the governor of São Paulo, Mário Covas, did not accept the fiscal renouncement proposal by Mercedes-Benz. A feasibility study of the construction unit of Mercedes-Benz in Juiz de Fora started being made in 1995. In April 1996, signed the memorandum of understanding between the government and Mercedes-Benz.
The factory was built in an area of 2.8 million square meters, in BR-040, 28 miles from the center of Juiz de Fora and comprised four industrial buildings, park vendors, test track and training center.
It took away Paraibuna River bed, build a bus terminal, a bridge and a railway branch, improve road access and long distance connection to natural gas supply. SEBRAE offered training providers and SENAI a training program for employees. In 1997, construction began unit of Mercedes-Benz in Brazil and in less than seven months later, the first equipment was installed.
While many things were still being defined, the construction was in full swing. The European version was barely out of the oven in mid-1997 and Mercedes-Benz announced that "The Class" would be manufactured in the region of Itamar Franco from December 1998. On April 23, 1999, the unit was inaugurated Juiz de Fora.
Mercedes-Benz began W168 production on 17 February 1999 at its new Brazilian facility in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. The Brazilian plant was the company's first factory in South America dedicated to passenger cars, with an investment of USD 840 million and 10,000 employees. The factory initially produced A-Class and C-Class models, assembling them from pieces manufactured in Germany. The target for the cars was regional markets (from Argentina to Mexico) with modifications made to the cars to suit local conditions, like a protection for the motor base. On 15 August 2005 the factory stopped production of A-Class cars.
As of 4 December 2006, 1.1 million A-Class models had been sold between 1997 and 2004.