- New-design bumpers front and rear, radiator grille now features four (previously three) ribs
- Side rub strips as standard
- Alloy rims for ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE and new-design wheel trim for CLASSIC
- Front headlamps with new technology and state-of-the-art clear-plastic lenses, high-brilliance tail lights
- Door handles for ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE body-coloured with chrome trim
- Stainless steel exhaust deflector on AVANTGARDE model
- Three new paintwork colours: mangrove green metallic, polar silver metallic and atoll blue metallic
- New-design dashboard with high-quality finish
- New-design centre console with styling matched to the new transmission tunnel trim
- New-design door panel trim
- Three-spoke steering wheel with new design and larger rim cross-section
- Trim parts of high-grade wood or aluminium in ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE
- A-pillars fabric-trimmed
- Handbrake lever with sliding cover
- Four accent colours: dark blue, quartz (only for ELEGANCE), chilli red and light slate grey
- Tailgate with new handle for convenient single-handed operation
- Steering wheel with height adjustment as standard
- AVANTGARDE front seats with sporty contouring, providing more lateral support
- Switches and controls on centre console conveniently placed
- Air recirculation now actuated by push-button (instead of previous sliding control)
- Air outlets with integrated thumb-wheels and higher efficiency
- Luggage cover rigid
- CDI diesel engines developing up to 25 per cent more power
- Latest-generation Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and hydraulic Brake Assist
- Air conditioning system with a new dew point sensor to measure air humidity, a refrigerant compressor with infinitely variable control and a more powerful evaporator
- Five-speed fan (previously four-speed)
- Electric heater booster (instead of previous fuel-powered heater booster) and new water-cooled alternator for the diesel models
- Heated windscreen washer system optionally available
- Windowbags optionally available
- Rain sensor for windscreen wiper optionally available
- Automatically dimming interior mirror optionally available
The extensive design changes and technical innovations in the models for the 2001 model year required a number of further modifications which are concealed beneath the bodywork of the A-Class. These changes relate chiefly to the front and the sides:
- The design of the front upper cross-members has been changed in response to the new radiator grille design.
- The inner sides of the roof frame and the B-pillars have been redesigned on both sides of the vehicle to provide room for secure mounting of the new, optionally available windowbags.
- The bottom part of the tailgate now features a new, ergonomically designed handle with an integrated lock for easier opening.
Long-wheelbase version: 170 millimetres more space in the rear
In order to optimise spaciousness and comfort for rear passengers in the A-Class without marring the front-end and rear styling, the Mercedes engineers decided to create the extra length in the area forward of the rear seats. This necessitated modifications to the side structural members, the main floor unit, the underside panelling, the roof and the rear doors. Additional reinforcements to the bodyshell structure ensure that the 170 millimetre longer body meets typical Mercedes standards of strength and rigidity.
The dynamic arch of the roof, which is such an important design feature of the regular version of the A-Class, had to be carried over intact to the long-wheelbase model. The designers and engineers achieved this, and so maintained the striking roof lines, by slightly modifying the A, B and C-pillars of the long-wheelbase version.
This inconspicuous design fix has had the effect of adding 14 millimetres to the height of the body, which in turn brings benefits for headroom in the rear.
Headlamps: perfect fusion of design and engineering
From spring 2001, the characteristic headlamps of the A-Class will feature clear-plastic lenses which will add further brilliance to the front view of this innovative compact model. The previous patterned headlamp lenses have now been replaced by clear-plastic lenses which give a revealing view of the state-of-the-art technology sheltering behind them: the headlamp housing incorporates five different light functions - dipped beam, side light, main beam, foglamp and direction indicator. However, since the previous patterned lenses served not only as a cover but also to disperse the light, a new reflector had to be developed which would perform this function instead. The solution adopted was free-form reflectors: the constituent mirror elements of the reflector were recalculated by computer so as to ensure optimal light distribution despite the clear headlamp lenses.
A shared two-filament halogen bulb (H4) is now used for both the main beam and the foglamp. This freed up more reflector space for the dipped beam, thus improving the range and spread of the dipped beam.
The rear light clusters are unchanged from the technical point of view, but have been restyled. The high-brilliance lenses for the reversing light and indicator functions give a view of the reflector surfaces behind, thus echoing the styling of the front headlamps. On the AVANTGARDE line, these lenses are dark-tinted.
Windscreen wipers: with optional rain sensor
A rain sensor, already fitted on the larger Mercedes-Benz passenger car models, is now optionally available to control the wiper interval on the A-Class too. As soon as the driver selects wiper setting 1 using the combination switch, the wiper interval is controlled as a function of rain intensity. The sensor is located on the windscreen and transmits its data to a separate electronic control unit underneath the dashboard.
Safety: real-life safety concept sets high standards
The A-Class is a compact car which incorporates very high safety standards. Its design and development were closely focused on the important criterion of occupant safety. The inherent handicaps attending conventional compact cars like low vehicle mass, a short front end and limited deformation potential in the event of an accident have been compensated for by Mercedes-Benz in the A-Class by means of the ground-breaking sandwich concept, which meets the typical high safety standards demanded by the Mercedes-Benz brand. Crash tests carried out by independent test organisations confirm this.
But the Mercedes engineers focused their attention not just on standardised crash testing. They have also developed an integrated safety concept derived from real-world experience, ranging from accident prevention by means of electronic assistance systems like ESP®, ABS and Brake Assist to optimised emergency rescue following an accident.
This development principle aimed at gearing passenger car safety to real-world requirements is known as the "Real-Life Safety Concept". The A-Class has been designed more closely in accordance with this principle than virtually any other compact car, and with its perfect balance of accident prevention and occupant protection delivers typical Mercedes safety. The standard-specification safety package of the A-Class is summarised below:
Windowbags: large airbags providing side protection for both front and rear passengers
The comprehensive real-life safety specification of the A-Class will be extended in spring 2001 with new, optionally available windowbags. These systems too have been developed on the basis of the latest accident research findings. The researchers found that side collisions involved a broad range of angles of impact, resulting in widely diverging displacement of the occupants. Consequently, in the opinion of the experts, an airbag covering as wide an area of the side of the car as possible is required in order to provide optimal protection, above all for the head of the occupants, in all the many different conceivable crash configurations. What's more, this head protection needs to be provided for both front and rear passengers.
The windowbag developed by Mercedes-Benz meets these requirements.
In the A-Class this airbag consists of five chambers with a total volume of 18 litres. Within 25 milliseconds of a side impact it inflates like a curtain between the front and rear roof pillars. This "curtain" is 1130 millimetres long, 300 millimetres wide and 120 millimetres thick. Under normal conditions, the windowbags are concealed behind the interior trim of the roof frame. In the event of an accident, they force this trim inwards prior to deployment.
The combination of the new windowbags and the sidebags C standard-fitted on the front doors and optional on the rear doors constitutes a highly effective safety system whose components dovetail perfectly. The sidebag, which has a volume of 15 litres, provides protection mainly for the thorax area, while the windowbag simultaneously prevents the head from striking the side window, roof pillars or roof frame. It also acts as a barrier against the intrusion of glass splinters or other objects either during the impact or as a result of subsequent overturning.
Thus the occupant protection system in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class comprises the following components:
- Six airbags: two front airbags for the driver and front passenger, two sidebags in the front doors and two windowbags (optional);
- Four high-performance belt tensioners: on the driver's and front passenger's seats and on the two outer seats in the rear;
- Two belt force limiters: on the driver's and front passenger's seats;
- Five inertia-reel belts: on all seats (optional for rear centre seat);
- Five height-adjustable head restraints: on all seats;
- Automatic child safety seat recognition: in front passenger seat;
- Integrated child seats: in the rear (optional).