Mercedes-Benz premiered two new models - updated A and B Class vehicles - at the Auto Mobil International exhibition in Leipzig. When the B Class was previewed last month, we learned it would get a start-stop "mini hybrid" system as well as a BlueEFFICIENCY option. The A Class 150 and 170 now also gain the start-stop system (no surprises there). The new A 160 CDI with BlueEFFICIENCY can now go 52 miles on a U.S.-sized gallon of gas (4.5 litres per 100 kilometres) and the 60 kW/82 hp Coupé emits just 119 grams of CO2 per km. Overall, the eco-additions to the three A and B class models that have the BlueEFFICIENCY packages reduce fuel use in the city by up to nine percent. The new B 170 NGT (that stands for "Natural Gas Technology") can also burn either petrol or natural gas, something that will appeal to emissions-minded European drivers. The NGT has a tank for gasoline and five natural gas reservoirs and will able to drive over 1,000 km (620 miles) if all available fuel space is filled to start. These updated models will be available starting this fall. Full details after the break.
Mercedes-Benz at "Auto Mobil International"
A and B-Class: World premiere of the new model generations in Leipzig
Leipzig – The focus of attention at "Auto Mobil International" (AMI) in Leipzig will be on the new generations of the A and B-Class. Both models are now more youthful, attractive and environmentally compatible than ever before. This is ensured by an all-round design makeover, an even more attractive equipment package and new technical developments which further improve safety, comfort and economy. A comfortable ECO start/stop function is now available for the high-volume models A 150/170 and B 150/170 which reduces petrol consumption in city traffic by up to nine percent. For the three-door A 160 CDI, Mercedes-Benz has developed a BlueEFFICIENCY package to lower the fuel consumption of the coupé to just
4.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Other new development include the bivalent petrol/natural gas drive of the B 170 NGT BlueEFFICIENCY and active parking assist, which helps the driver of the A and B-Class when finding and reversing into a parking space.
Since its world premiere in 1997, the A-Class has made a name for itself as a trendsetter and innovative leader in the compact car segment. Outstanding safety, great day-to-day flexibility and typical Mercedes reliability have always been among the strengths of the A-Class, which has so far captured the enthusiasm of about 1.7 million male and female drivers with its distinctive and versatile vehicle concept.
The new-generation A-Class builds on these strengths: in spring 2008 Mercedes-Benz is presenting the five-door saloon and the three-door coupé in completely upgraded versions. Viewed from the front, this compact Mercedes-Benz now appears even more youthful and self-confident than before. The sweeping lines of the newly designed headlamps harmoniously combine the front end and flanks, which literally appear to be cast from a single mould. The likewise redesigned front bumper reinforces this impression; its lower air intake is now much larger, emphasising the width of the body. The radiator grille is also in a new design which underlines the progressive aura of the A-Class. Design features at the front end provide even more clear distinctions between the design and equipment lines of the A-Class than before. In the AVANTGARDE line the front bumper has been given a distinctive design which emphasises the arrow-shape of the front end and suggests even greater agility. When viewed from the side the different lines in the A-Class are distinguished by individual wheel designs. While the basic model is equipped with 15-inch wheels and seven- spoke hubcaps as standard, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE are fitted with individually designed 16-inch light-alloy wheels. The new, larger exterior mirror housings and door handles are now painted in the vehicle colour for all model variants.
Interior: upgraded with larger stowage compartments and new fabrics
Mercedes designers also paid particular attention to enhanced value when redesigning the interior, choosing new, high-grade upholstery fabrics and door linings. In addition new decorative trim of smoke-grey, diagonally brushed aluminium enhances the interior of the AVANTGARDE line, while the dignified aura of the ELEGANCE models is heightened by wood trim. All variants of the A-Class share a larger stowage compartment in the centre console and a newly designed cupholder between the front seats.
B-Class: The Sports Tourer in better shape than ever
Mercedes-Benz has also developed the B-Class further in design and technical terms. The restyled front end injects the B-Class with even more poise and assurance than before. This is primarily down to the radiator grille with its three chromed cross fins painted in metallic grey and the Mercedes star integrated into its centre. However, the more imposing appearance of the B-Class also stems from the new-look bumper – whose design emphasises the large air intake at the bottom – as well as the modified bonnet.
Typical distinguishing features of the current Mercedes style are also very much in evidence in the side profile of the B-Class, which presents a thrilling interplay between taut forms and crisp lines. Of particular note is the character line, which rises progressively from the front wing to the rear tail light, thereby marking an intriguing divide between the concave and convex-formed surfaces along the body's flanks. This line furthermore underscores the body's wedge-shaped form, and thereby gives added impact to the Sports Tourer's athletic, powerful nature.
In the Model Year 2008 B-Class, the design at the sides seems even more harmonious and elegant than before because the exterior mirror housings, door handles and skirt panels are now painted to match the body colour on all model variants. The restyled hubcaps and light-alloy wheels add further touches of class to the exterior looks.
The Mercedes design team has further upgraded the interior with a new upholstery fabric, plus a new fabric pattern for the seat cushions. If the B-Class is ordered with the sports package, the side seat bolsters are trimmed in ARTICO man-made leather and the centre panels in fabric. The interior door linings likewise feature a new fabric trim.
Technology: fuel consumption reduced by up to eight percent
BlueEFFICIENCY is the new designation for the Mercedes commitment to further reductions in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Three models in the A and B-Class will bear the BlueEFFICIENCY emblem in future: the A 160 CDI, the high- volume four-cylinder models A 150/B 150 and A 170/ B 170 with the ECO start- stop function, and the new B 170 NGT with bivalent petrol/natural gas drive. The fuel consumption of the models in the A and B-Class has been reduced by up to eight percent thanks to a package of intelligently combined measures.
From autumn 2008 Mercedes-Benz will introduce a standard BlueEFFICIENCY package for the three-door A 160 CDI with a manual transmission, with further improvements in engine efficiency, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, energy management and weight. The sum of these measures achieves a fuel saving of
0.4 litres, which means that the A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY has an NEDC Page 4
consumption of only 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres. As a result the CO 2 emissions of the 60 kW/82 hp Coupé are only 119 grams per kilometre.
The BlueEFFICIENCY package also includes an aerodynamically optimised radiator grille. This has a closed-off interior face to reduce the airflow to the engine, though the CDI engine is still cooled effectively at all times. The suspension has also been lowered by ten millimetres to reduce the drag coefficient even further. Mercedes engineers have exploited an additional fuel-saving potential by controlling the onboard power supply of the A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY according to demand, and therefore on an energy-saving basis. To recharge the battery with optimum energy efficiency, the generator management system utilises the engine's overrun phases to produce electrical energy.
Start/stop function: the engine switches off automatically when idling
In the case of the petrol-engined models A 150/B 150 and A 170/B 170, Mercedes engineers have achieved NEDC fuel savings of up to 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres with a newly developed ECO start/stop function. This system will become available from autumn 2008. It automatically switches off the engine when the driver shifts the manual transmission to neutral at a low speed while applying the brakes. If the conditions for engine switch-off are met, the driver is informed by a special display in the instrument cluster.
Within fractions of a second, and almost noiselessly, the engine is restarted as soon as the clutch is operated or the brake released. This rapid and comfortable engine start is a major advantage of the ECO start/stop function versus other systems of this kind.
With the ECO start/stop function the NEDC fuel consumption is reduced by a further 6.5 percent or so. The A 150 BlueEFFICIENCY (70 kW/95 hp) absolves a measured test journey with a fuel consumption of 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres, which corresponds to 139 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
Even greater advantages can be achieved in normal road traffic, as the results of extensive practical trials have confirmed: Mercedes employees tested the system in 175 test cars, covering a total of around 1.2 million kilometres. Roughly half of this enormous mileage was covered in city traffic, where the new ECO start/stop function enabled fuel savings of up to nine percent to be achieved.
NGT: B-Class powered by natural gas and petrol
A further new addition to the B-Class range bears the initials "NGT" on the right- hand side of its tailgate. They stand for "Natural Gas Technology" and identify a model variant which is as economical as it is environmentally compatible, courtesy of its bi-fuel drive: the B 170 NGT BlueEFFICIENCY is able to run on both natural gas and premium grade petrol while delivering an identical maximum output of 85 kW/116 hp.
In addition to the petrol tank, there are five natural gas reservoirs whose total capacity of 16 kilograms equates to a range of over 300 kilometres. With overall NEDC consumption figures of 7.3 litres of premium petrol and 4.9 kilograms of natural gas per 100 kilometres, the new B 170 NGT BlueEFFICIENCY is therefore able to attain a total range in excess of 1000 kilometres. The driver determines which power source is used at the touch of a button, using the multifunction steering wheel; an electronic control unit carries out the switch instantaneously without any jolts – even while on the move.
The lower carbon dioxide emissions and cheaper fuel costs make natural gas an attractive alternative to petrol and diesel, both ecologically and economically speaking. On the NEDC cycle, the CO2 emissions are 17 percent lower than in
the petrol-powered B 170 at 135 grams per kilometre. If the 4.9 kilograms (7.5 m³) of natural gas consumed per 100 kilometres by the new B 170 NGT BlueEFFICIENCY is converted into the equivalent quantity of petrol energy, the fuel cost per kilometre is around 50 percent less than when running on petrol
Ecology: the A-Class is the first compact car with an environmental certificate
Mercedes-Benz not only assesses the environmental compatibility of vehicles on the basis of standardised emissions and fuel consumption measurement, but also taking into account the entire vehicle lifecycle – from production and many years of operation to eventual recycling and disposal. An analysis of more than 40 000 individual processes provides an overall picture and enables the development work to be objectively assessed. This eco balance sheet is the basis of the environmental certificate according to the stringent international ISO standard 14062 (Design For Environment), which Mercedes-Benz is the world's only automobile brand to have received.
Mercedes engineers have, for the first time, compiled an eco balance sheet for the natural-gas drive. It forms one element of the Environmental Certificate awarded to the B-Class by Germany's TÜV Technical Inspection Authority. The results of this integrated analysis over a total distance travelled of 150,000 kilometres highlight, for example, a number of clear advantages for the natural-gas drive. The overall CO emissions are some 20 percent below the figure for the 2 comparable petrol-engined model. Nitrogen oxide emissions are eleven percent lower, while the experts have calculated a 54 percent difference in carbon monoxide emissions over the entire lifecycle in favour of the natural-gas drive.
Detailed information about the eco balance sheet and the environmental certificates for the A and B-Class may be found in Mercedes-Benz brochures, which are available on the Internet at www.media.daimler.com.
Safety: flashing brake lights warn following traffic
Mercedes-Benz has also made further improvements to the safety and comfort of the A and B-Class. The adaptive brake light introduces technology from the luxury class into the compact segment, which therefore benefits from a further accident prevention system as a standard feature. Under emergency braking from a speed exceeding 50 km/h, the brake lights flash rapidly to warn following traffic, enabling drivers to respond more rapidly and prevent a collision.
Mercedes-Benz has now added to this extensive safety technology with crash- responsive emergency lighting for the interior. This is switched on automatically following an accident of a defined severity, providing the occupants with better orientation and facilitating the work of the emergency services.
Parking assist: ultrasound and electric steering for easier parking
When finding and reversing into a parking space, drivers of the A and B-Class will in future be aided by an active parking assist feature which is available on request for all model variants. Using newly developed, side-mounted ultrasonic sensors, this system identifies suitable parking spaces on both sides of the road in passing, then informs the driver by means of a display. 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. If he or she engages reverse gear, acknowledges the display message and accelerates, 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 in this by keeping them informed about the distance to the vehicle in front of and behind the car.
Mercedes engineers have also added a new function to a well-proven support system: the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) now has an automatic hill-start assist function which prevents the car from rolling backwards when the driver changes from the brake pedal to the accelerator when moving off on an uphill gradient.
Audio: new units offer Bluetooth, a colour display and Europe-wide navigation
Like all the new 2008 Mercedes models, the A and B-Class is available with further improved information, communication, navigation and entertainment systems. The new Audio 50 APS is equipped with a colour display, Europe-wide DVD navigation system and DVD drive, while the top-of-the-range COMAND APS includes HDD navigation, a MUSIC REGISTER, an SD card slot and voice control. Even more scope for mobile musical pleasure is provided by a newly developed, interactive media interface, an optional item which is able to connect an MP3-player, USB stick or other external audio unit to the onboard infotainment system.