The first generation of the A-Class was launched in 1997. In the sedan, Mercedes-Benz engineers developed many ideas from innovative studies to production standard and created an automobile that appropriately reflected the brand values in this vehicle category. The 168 series featured small external dimensions combined with a generous interior.
The most important feature was the bodywork structure, based on the sandwich principle. This means that the engine, transmission, and other drive system components were arranged under and in front of the passenger compartment. In the event of a frontal impact, the entire drive system unit was intended to slide out beneath the passenger compartment. This provided an extremely high level of safety in a crash, the likes of which had not been seen before in this car category. The A-Class set new standards in its market segment, with ESP®, BAS brake assist system, and other safety systems installed as standard.
In addition to the five-door version with a short wheelbase, a sedan with a long wheelbase, also with five doors, was launched in 2001. The 168 series A-Class was available with six different engines: in addition to the diesel-engined A 160 CDI and A 170 CDI models, there were the gasoline-engined A 140, A 160, A 190, and A 210 EVOLUTION models. In total, more than 1.1 million first-generation A-Class cars were built.
The exciting technology premiered in the model includes the AUTOTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission, and also a selective damping system that adjusts the shock absorber forces to the driving conditions. The chassis features a parabolic rear axle.
The 169 series is available with a total of seven different engines: the diesel models A 160 CDI, A 180 CDI, and A 200 CDI, together with the gasoline models A 150, A 170, A 200, and A 200 TURBO