Press Kit: The new-generation A-Class


Technology: Innovations for the environment, safety and comfort

Fuel consumption lowered by more than eight percent
A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY with 119 grams of CO2 per kilometre
Comfortable ECO start-stop function for A 150 and A 170
Parking assist for automatic reversing into parking spaces
Infotainment units with Europe-wide navigation

Stuttgart, May 20, 2008 - The A-Class remains true to its role as a technological trendsetter. Mercedes engineers have developed new systems for this compact car that bring major progress in important areas – notably safety, comfort, economy and environmental compatibility.

One major aspect is the further reduction of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Mercedes-Benz has thoroughly re-examined the car, and achieved remarkable results by making detailed improvements: compared to the previous series, the new-generation A-Class consumes around eight percent less fuel per 100 kilometres. The Mercedes hit-list of particularly economical models is
headed by Coupé version of the A 160 CDI, which is equipped with a new BlueEFFICIENCY package as standard. This reduces the NEDC fuel consumption of the three-door car to 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres, which is 0.4 litres below the previous figure. CO2 emissions are nine grams lower at 119 grams per kilometre.

BlueEFFICIENCY is the new trademark for particularly economical and environmentally compatible Mercedes passenger cars. Mercedes engineers have utilised the potentials from various development areas to reduce fuel consumption even further by means of lightweight construction, a lower air
and rolling resistance and more efficient energy management. In the A 160 CDIBlueEFFICIENCY, it is particularly the aerodynamic measures and demand-related control of the generator that make themselves felt in terms
of fuel consumption:

The suspension has been lowered by ten millimetres, thereby exposing a smaller frontal area to the airstream.
The inner surface of the radiator grille is enclosed, reducing the volume of air flowing into the engine compartment. This significantly reduces the drag coefficient, but has no negative effect on engine cooling.
The generator of the A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is controlled according to demand, and therefore effectively contributes to fuel economy. This energy management is based on sensor information about the battery’s charge status. If it has a sufficient charge, the output of the generator is reduced for certain periods. This reduces the work required of the CDI engine, which therefore consumes less fuel. To recharge the battery the system utilises the engine’s overrun phases, and therefore its braking energy, which is converted into electrical energy by recuperation.

The three-door A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is available with a five-speed manual transmission from autumn 2008.

Fuel savings of up to nine percent with the ECO start-stop function

During the design and development of their BlueEFFICIENCY measures, the Mercedes specialists were primarily guided by the actual user behaviour of Mercedes customers as identified by a large-scale practical analysis. These data covering the day-to-day operating conditions and profiles of Mercedes car models have shown that the A-Class is predominantly used for short and medium-range journeys with frequent traffic light stops, stop-and-go traffic and tailbacks. Accordingly Mercedes-Benz has developed a technology which offers significant fuel consumption advantages in such traffic situations: the ECO start-stop function. From autumn 2008 this will be optionally available for the high-volume models A 150 and A 170 equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, which will also receive the BlueEFFICIENCY hallmark thanks to this technology. The ECOstart-stop function lowers fuel consumption and exhaust emissions by automatically switching off the engine during idling phases. The driver is informed by a special display in the instrument cluster if and when the conditions for engine switch-off are met. When travelling at low speed, he only needs to shift the manual transmission to neutral and apply the brakes. The engine is then switched off, and the ECO display appears in the instrument cluster.

The ECO start-stop function demonstrates its superiority over other systems of this kind when restarting the engine. This process is not only very fast, but also particularly quiet when the driver operates the clutch or releases the brakes. This is the major advantage of the newly developed starter generator, which is directly integrated into the engine’s belt drive and powers the crankshaft -- much quicker and quieter than with the conventional starter. During a journey the starter generator acts as an alternator and feeds electrical power to the onboard network. An intelligent control system ensures that the battery is only recharged when necessary, with particular use of the engine’s overrun phases when braking energy can be converted into electrical energy by recuperation.

The ECO start-stop function features an electronic control unit which adapts the functions of the system to the operating conditions of the A-Class. This means that the engine is not switched off at low or very high ambient temperatures, so that the heating or air conditioning continue to operate at their full efficiency.
Mercedes-Benz has subjected the ECO start-stop function to extensive practical trials in which around 175 test cars covered approx. 1.2 million kilometres. Roughly half of these journeys were in city traffic, where the new system offers impressive advantages: fuel savings of up to nine percent and a reduction in NEDC fuel consumption by around 6.5 percent. The A 150 BlueEFFICIENCY consumes 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres, which makes it 0.4 litres more economical than the A 150 without the ECOstart-stop function. In the case of the A 170 BlueEFFICIENCY the fuel saving is 0.5 litres per 100 kilometres.

Choice of seven up-to-date four-cylinder engines

As before, the A-Class is available with a choice of seven four-cylinder engines – three direct-injection diesels and four petrol units:

* NEDC consumption; **available as BlueEFFICIENCY model from autumn 2008

Extended safety features including emergency interior lighting

Safety is another major attribute of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. In addition to the unique body concept, which offers advantages in the event of a frontal or side impact, an effective seat belt and airbag system provides the level of occupant safety typical of a Mercedes. This includes adaptive, two-stage front airbags, belt tensioners in the front and for the outer rear seats, and adaptive belt force limiters and head/thorax sidebags in the front. The use of high-strength steel alloys, extremely strong bonded connections and robust structural members in the bodyshell also ensures that the occupants are well protected even during a serious accident.

Mercedes-Benz has supplemented this extensive range of safety features with an emergency interior lighting system which is switched on automatically following a serious collision. This provides the occupants with better orientation at night, and facilitates the work of the emergency services when recovering injured passengers.
Flashing brake lights as an effective warning when danger threatens
In the field of active safety, the A-Class benefits from the technological leadership of the Mercedes models in the luxury and super-luxury class. In addition to ESP®, Brake Assist and other systems which make driving safer and demonstrably contribute to accident prevention, Mercedes-Benz is now equipping the A-Class with a new development that is able to lower the risk of rear-end collisions: flashing brake lights.

This invention is based on the findings obtained from accident research, which show that three quarters of all serious traffic accidents could be avoided if drivers were given a clear warning of potential danger at an early stage. Mercedes engineers therefore developed the flashing brake light system and tested its effectiveness during practical trials. These showed that the braking response times of drivers are reduced by an average of up to 0.2 seconds if a flashing red warning signal is given instead of conventional brake lights in an emergency braking situation. As a result the stopping distance of the vehicle behind is reduced by around 4.40 metres at a speed of 80 km/h, and even by around 5.50 metres at 100 km/h. Flashing brake lights are therefore an effective means of preventing rear-end collisions. Thanks to this technology now included as standard, driving is therefore also made safer for those not travelling in a Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes specialists tested various warning lights during the course of this study. Brake lights that flash more rapidly than the hazard warning lights during emergency braking proved to be particularly effective in warning following traffic of an impending rear-end collision. The Mercedes study also revealed that switching on the hazard warning system in a critical situation has only an insignificant effect on the reaction time of other drivers.

Automatic parking with ultrasound

Newly developed driver support systems and functions not only make travel in the A-Class even safer, but also more comfortable. For example, Mercedes-Benz have enhanced the Electronic Stability Program with a new, standard function aimed at increased comfort: the automatic hill-holder. This prevents the car
from rolling backwards when the driver changes from the brake pedal to the accelerator when moving off on an uphill gradient. In these situations ESP® maintains the brake pressure for a short time, so that the driver can move off smoothly.
Finding and reversing the A-Class into a parking space is also made easier and more convenient with the newly developed, optional parking assist system, which uses ten ultrasonic sensors. These sensors are active up to a speed of 35 km/h, and monitor the area to the left and right of the A-Class, measuring the length and depth of possible parking spaces. A "P" symbol in the instrument cluster informs the driver that this electronic search for a parking space is in progress.

Once a suitable parking space has been found, an arrow appears in the display to inform the driver on which side of the road the parking space is located. Now the driver only needs to stop, engage reverse gear and confirm his acceptance of the recommended parking space by pressing a key on the multifunction steering wheel. As soon as he operates the accelerator, active parking assist takes over the steering and automatically manoeuvres the car into the parking space. The driver only needs to accelerate and operate the brakes; the ultrasonic sensors of the PARKTRONIC system assist him in this by keeping him informed about the distance to the vehicle in front of and behind the A-Class.

The ten ultrasonic sensors in the front and rear bumpers send their information to an electronic control unit, which not only measures the size of the parking space but also calculates the best possible entry path. The data are fed to the electromechanical power steering of the A-Class, whose electric motor performs the necessary steering movements of its own accord.

Active parking assist enables drivers to use suitable parking spaces which they would normally consider too small and pass by. This is because the parking space only needs to be 1.30 metres longer than the A-Class for this automatic parking procedure to take place – an indication of the great precision of this technology. Thanks to the compact dimensions of the A-Class, a parking space with a length of just 5.18 metres or so is sufficient.

New infotainment units for a digital music experience

Information, communication, navigation and entertainment – four terms which are nowadays just as important to drivers as e.g. agile handling, a high standard of comfort or a powerful engine. Nobody wants to be without news, telephone, route guidance or musical enjoyment, even in the car. Accordingly these topics enjoy a very high priority during the development of new Mercedes models. The engineers in Sindelfingen have developed new systems for the A-Class which bring cutting-edge technology from the luxury class to the compact class.

There is a choice of three new units, all of them with a colour display, a twin or triple tuner for superior radio reception, speed-sensitive volume control, a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, a connection for external audio units and a Bluetooth interface that wirelessly connects a mobile phone to the onboard hands-free system.

Audio 20 with CD-player

This car radio with an integral CD-player (MP3-capable) includes an FM/ MW, AM and LW tuner with automatic station search, RDS (during FM reception), direct frequency input via the keypad in the centre console and a 5-inch colour display.

Audio 50 APS with DVD navigation

This infotainment system combines a car radio, telephone exchange and Europe-wide DVD navigation system in a single head unit. The route guidance information – with zoom function – is arrow-based and appears on a 5-inch colour display. The integral DVD drive can be used for navigation or audio data. If the optional 6 DVD-changer is specified, Audio 50 APS also includes the improved LINGUATRONIC voice control system with whole-word commands.

COMAND APS with HDD navigation and music register

This multimedia system has a Europe-wide navigation system whose data are stored on a hard disc (40 gigabytes), allowing particularly fast access to the navigation data and faster route calculation. The route map is shown on a 6.5-inch, high-resolution colour display. COMAND APS also includes a music register with a memory capacity of four gigabytes. This enables the driver to store around 1000 music tracks in the MP3 format from CDs, DVDs or memory cards. The system automatically recognises the titles and performers, and shows them on the colour display. Above the colour display the unit has a slot for SD memory cards which can also be used to store music files. COMAND APS also features voice control as standard, and a 6 DVD-changer is available on request.
The Audio 5car radio with its familiar functions and features remains part of the range available for the A-Class.

Interactive interface for an iPod etc.

Equipping COMAND APS with a music register and memory card slot shows that entertainment was an important aspect during the development of the new audio units: Mercedes customers are able to compile their own musical playlist and take it with them on an SD card. Now an iPod, USBstick or other external audio unit can also be connected to the onboard infotainment system of the A-Class. A newly developed universal media interface available ex factory for all the infotainment systems makes this possible. All that is required is a suitable cable which is available from the Mercedes accessories range.

This interface is much more than just an electronic “socket” in the glove compartment. The new technology also includes a control unit that connects the external music files with the onboard electronics and operating system of the A-Class. This means that the music stored in an iPod is also displayed in the instrument cluster and the colour display in the centre console, and can be conveniently selected using the keys on the multifunction steering wheel. While the portable audio unit is connected to the onboard system via the media interface, its battery is also charged.

The ultimate musical enjoyment is guaranteed if the optional “Logic7®” surround-sound system is ordered. This offers a natural 360-degree sound experience for all the occupants – a concert hall on wheels. It makes no difference whether the music source is a DVD or CD, or whether the recording is in Dolby 5.1 Surround or normal stereo. The music signals are distributed via twelve loudspeakers (Coupé: ten) and a 450-watt amplifier.

Voice control with whole-word commands

Voice control is standard equipment in the A-Class if Mercedes customers
specify Audio 50 APS with a 6 DVD-changer or the COMAND APS multimedia unit. LINGUATRONIC operates the telephone, audio and navigation systems particularly conveniently by whole-word commands. This means that the driver need no longer spell out his commands, but merely has to say what he requires when entering a destination, selecting a radio station or choosing a name from the stored telephone directory.

During this brief dialogue the sound signal is digitised, converted into a frequency range and analysed. Within milliseconds the computer identifies various characteristics of the voice signal and recognises what are known as the phonemes or linguistic components. The electronics rapidly check each sound, join the different phonemes together, compare them with the contents of a stored phoneme dictionary and ascertain the acoustic probability of the word. This enables the system to recognise even very minor differences in pronunciation, e.g. between the words "Town" and "Down". The phonemes of six different languages are stored in the system.

With LINGUATRONIC Mercedes-Benz makes an important contribution to traffic safety, as the driver no longer needs to take his hands off the wheel to operate the telephone or audio equipment. His workload is reduced and he is better able to concentrate on the traffic situation. In 1996 Mercedes-Benz was the first automobile brand to offer such an onboard system. The first-generation LINGUATRONIC system only required a processor with a memory capacity of 512 kilobytes, but more than ten megabytes are now needed for the greatly increased capabilities of the voice control system.

For extended technical data, see also : Technical Data of the A-Class

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