Revell 1/24 Mercedes A 160

28 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Revell 1/24 Mercedes A 160
Mercedes A 140

For a long time the automobile market in Germany had been divided between the six big German car companies which each of the companies having their own market segment – Volkswagen and Opel (a German GM division) for the smaller and mass market cars, BMW and Audi for the ‘upper middle class’, Mercedes-Benz for the luxury market and Porsche for sports cars. There was always some degree of overlap but things really started to change in the second half of the nineties. By now everything has mixed up and you can buy a luxury sedan from Volkswagen (the Phaeton), a small car from BMW (the MINI and soon there will be a ‘1-series’) or even a SUV from Porsche.

One of the pioneers in this policy of trying to get a foot into new market segments is Mercedes-Benz. Within the last ten years the company extended its lineup into the small car, SUV and the super luxury class. Actually the smallest (the ‘smart’) as well as the largest (the Maybach 62) German series production cars are built by Daimler-Chrysler companies, although for marketing reasons these cars are not sold under the Mercedes brand.

Well, the ‘smart’ is not really German, being produced in France and not even a car by American standards. But that’s another story – and another Revell kit.

But back to our subject. The first step for Mercedes was to enter the most important car class in central and western Europe – the ‘compact class’. Also named the ‘Golf’-class in Germany – after the VW Golf – which is (now in its fifth incarnation) the best selling car in Germany for more than two decades.

Mercedes engineers and marketing people soon realized that building just another Golf/Megane/Civic/Corolla would not do the job and went on to create a car which would establish it’s own class somewhere between small station wagons and small van – the ‘compact van’. Having similar external dimensions (except for height) as a normal compact car, the higher body and intelligent arrangement of engine and transmission components allow for a roomy ‘van-like’ interior with higher seat positions.

This concept proved to be successful – as can be seen by the fact that many companies offer similar cars these days – from the Audi A2 (which is conceptually very similar) to the Volkswagen Touran, the Renault Scenic or the Honda Jazz which are somewhat larger and based on the companies compact models. Since the car was the smallest Mercedes it got the designation ‘A-Klasse’ with the C-class being the next larger model.

Mercedes’ announcement of the new car created quite a craze – after all the company was attacking Volkswagen, Opel and Ford on their very own territory. The expectations on the car were quite high when the car became available in fall 1997. Unfortunately for the company, the first series of cars had some teething problems.

In a special test (dubbed the ‘Elchtest’ i.e. ‘moose test’) at about 60 kph / 45 miles trying to avoid an animal suddenly crossing the road Swedish motor journalists managed to flip over the car. This happened only under special conditions – when the car was loaded with four persons and only with one specific type of tires but the effect was reproducible.

The pictures of the car literally jumping off the road marred the reputation of the car and caused a lot of ‘Schadenfreude’ with half of Germany making jokes about the new Mercedes and the problems a big company had with building a small car. The company had to react and halted production and recalled the cars already sold. After some months pause the production of the ‘new’ A-class resumed in spring 1998. Changes included lowered suspension and wider tyres.

Additionally all cars were equipped with an ESP (electronic stability program) which until then could only be found in luxury cars. Nowadays you can find such systems (each company has a different name for this but it’s basically the same) in most new cars – at least here in Europe but in 1998 it was quite groundbreaking. With these changes and big marketing and advertising efforts Mercedes managed to make the A-Class a very successful model.

The ‘Elchtest’ debacle is almost forgotten now and the car is still in production with its second generation already on the horizon (summer 2004). The car is offered with different gas and diesel engines and in three design lines: ‘classic’ (the basic) ‘elegance’ (the luxurious/conservative) and ‘avantgarde’ (the luxurious/modern). Since 2001 also a longer wheel base version is available.

I guess it’s time to conquer the American market now.

Mercedes A 150

THE KIT

CONCLUSIONS

It’s nice that some companies make models of ‘everyday cars’. Not the Ferrari or Porsche you will probably never own anyway, but the Mercedes A-Klasse, Volkswagen Golf or some of the other cars you see every day on the streets. And – except for the poor fitting clear parts – this will be a fairly easy build resulting in a nice and unusual model of an important car.

Mercedes A 160
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