Instead of getting comfortable and resting on its laurels, like many successful car manufacturers do, in the later 90s, Mercedes-Benz decided to apply in not inconsequential talents to new market segments. One of those was the supermini, a segment of city-friendly cars that are small and maneuverable on the outside, and roomy and comfortable on the inside. The result was the 1997 Mercedes-Benz A-Class; after some initial problems with the rear suspension being faulty, which led to a test vehicle rolling (in the hands of a journalist, no less), the car was released on the market, where it proved a hit.
Buyers particularly liked the build quality – typically Mercedes – and the numerous safety features, which saw the engine placed in such a position that it would be deflected under the passengers in the event of a head-on collision, on of the greatest dangers of very small cars.
The A-Class was powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 102 horsepower. It was enough to take this steel-monocoque car to a top speed of 111 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 in less than 10 seconds, an impressive feat.
The 1997 Mercedes-Benz A-Class and its successors have carved themselves a powerful market share in this growing market segment, to their credit.