Mercedes-Benz A210 (W168): grey color from AMG

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a subcompact car produced by the German automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz as the brand’s entry-level vehicle. The first generation (internally coded W168) was introduced in 1997, the second generation (W169) in late 2004 and the third generation (W176) in 2012. The fourth generation model (W177), which was launched in 2018, marked the first time the A-Class was offered in the United States and Canada. This fourth generation A-Class is also the first to be offered both as a hatchback (W177) and sedan (V177).

First generation (W168; 1997)

In 1994, Mercedes-Benz confirmed that it would be launching a compact car – the A-Class (A 160) – by early 1997, and (A 190) by early 1999, which would be the company’s first venture in this sector of the market; it was hinted at this stage that the new car would be shorter than the average supermini but as spacious and practical inside as a large family car.

The A-Class was first revealed to the motoring press late in 1996, and finally launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the autumn of 1997, the W168 A-Class was quite unusual for Mercedes-Benz featuring a front-wheel drive layout and unusual tall but yet short body and Advantgarde at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show and 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show.

This was the first complete exterior designed by Coventry University trained Steve Mattin, for which he was named Autocar magazine’s ‘Designer of the Year’. Earlier, Mattin had mostly worked on design for the W210 E-Class in 1991. Concurrent to the W168, he designed the exterior of the W220 S-Class. The final design freeze occurred in January 1995, at 32 months before August 1997 start of production.

Between 1997 and 2004, 1.1 million first generation A-Class models had been sold. Overall, Daimler lost €1,440 per vehicle produced.

The A-Class was facelifted in February 2001, with minor alterations to the headlights, front and rear bumper design and the addition of a new 170 mm (6.7 in) longer wheelbase version. It was launched at the Geneva Motor Show.

All A-Class models are powered by four-cylinder engines, with 1.4 L and 1.6 L petrol models at launch (M 166 series), followed by two versions of a 1.7 L diesel engine (OM 668 series). In 1999, a larger 1.9 L petrol model was added, with the 2.1 the last W168 version to be launched in 2002.

Also two AMG versions were produced, a 3.2 in 2001 and a 3.8 in 2000, though very few of these were made.

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