In an exclusive preview ahead of its unveiling at the 2021 Geneva show, Driven To Write can reveal the significantly refreshed Mercedes A-class.
The current Mercedes A-class, internally dubbed W177, receives an extensive mid-life facelift, to be officially presented at the 91th Geneva International Motor Show. Ahead of the world premiere, Driven To Write can provide exclusive insight into the most significant overhaul the A-class model has ever received.
“It’s time to be bold. It’s time for creases”
Daimler AG’s Chief Creative Officer, Gorden Wagener proclaims that the refreshed A-class is more than the regular nip-&-tuck-job. “The A-class is one of our icons. It is the most premium car in its class, and this new design shows that more than ever.”
Styling, incidentally, is the focal point of W177’s overhaul. Since its market introduction in 2018, the current A-class has turned out to perform well below expectations in terms of sales, never matching its smash hit W176 predecessor in that regard.
Market research has proven that the current car’s more muted – to some eyes: anonymous – styling hasn’t met the taste of the A-class’ customer base, which demands a more youthful and expressive appearance than the current cars’. This facelift is intended to meet these concerns, as explained by Dick van Kok, exterior designer in charge of the A-class range: “We know what we owe to our customers. The previous A-class is something special in that it introduced the Mercedes brand to people who’d never dreamt of not just not owning a Mercedes, but being proud of it. The facelift will reinstate that pride.”
So significant are the changes to W177 that no sheet metal, apart from the wing mirrors, roof and front doors, is carried over from the original car. “We don’t do things by halves here at Mercedes-Benz. We want the A to be both ruler and challenger. That’s why we went to such lengths to ensure the car embodies the values of ‘hot & cool’.”, van Kok explains.
“Our Panamericana front end is now more expressive than ever. We’ve increased the grille’s size by more than 20%, which lends the A-class the sort of presence that’s usually the reserve of luxury performance cars. Our new NuPredator front, with its dramatic triangular light graphic, makes this the most aggressive-looking car in its class.’, van Kok explains with some glee, before adding: ‘But what I’m most proud of is the rear. We’ve given this car a shoulder that’s very strong, it’s like an animal’s muscle that’s about to burst. We call this our NuPredator rear, because it finally matches the front’s sense of menace. Note how the line from the rocker flows into our NuPredator shoulder, that’s just a thing of beauty!”
To his boss, Gorden Wagener, the W177 facelift is no less than a watershed moment. “This marks the birth of Sensual Purity® 3.0. The first version of Sensual Purity was about introducing art and expression to our cars. The second generation was about adding premium appeal. Now we combine all of this into cars that are iconic, progressive and very, very self-assured.”
When pressed whether W177’s original design was a misstep, Wagener will only go as far as saying that he’d “misunderestimated (sic) the customers’ boldness. In a sense, Mercedes owners understood Sensual Purity® too well. We thought we’d give them some breathing time, but what they actually wanted was more! And now we give them the most sensually pure interpretation of Sensual Purity® ever!”
Of course, only time will tell whether these changes will turn the A-class’ fortunes around and continue the success story its predecessor turned out to be. The significant costs such an unusually extensive facelift entails certainly suggest the powers that be at Stuttgart Untertürkheim are convinced the mistakes they made when Wagener’s Sensual Purity® form language was dialled down can be rectified.
Or, in other words: Sensual Purity® 3.0 had better work!
The author of this piece runs an obscure motoring site of his own, which you may or may not choose to visit at www.auto-didakt.com