- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

THE HAGUE — After the 1998 introduction of the first generation of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, it was the subject of sneers in Europe. During one of the first test-drives by a journalist, the rather stubby and tall A-Class turned over.

The incident will be in the automotive history books forever as the Moose Test, as it took place in Scandinavia, where moose cross the roads frequently. Although this incident was unique, Mercedes hurried to make its new model more stable and came up with ESP, Electronic Stability Program.

Now almost every car manufacturer has such a stability program available for one or more of its models.

The second generation of the A-Class is ready to hit the European markets. It is 9 inches longer than its predecessor and now measures 151 inches bumper to bumper. The width has increased by 2 inches, to 69 inches, whereas the height has remained the same.

Of course, the new A will have ESP as standard equipment and will also sport head and chest air bags and a multifunctional steering wheel. Mercedes says that is has patented more than 200 safety and comfort items.

In Europe, the A-Class is available with three gas engines (A 150, A 170 and A 200) and three diesel engines (A 160 CDI, A 180 CDI and A 200 CDI). Mercedes-Benz claims 38 percent more power and 46 percent more torque compared to the engines in the outgoing model. Later this year the A200 Turbo with a new 193-horsepower turbo engine will complete the line.

Especially for the promotion of the new A-Class, Christina Aguilera has recorded a song “Hello,” which will be used in the marketing campaign titled “Follow your own star.”

It is not yet known when the A-Class will be available in North America.

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