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A190 Twin-Engined A-Class W168
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Photo and photo text copyright: Auto Motor und Sport/H.D.Seufert    Two-piece mounting and additional background retouching by MBEP webmaster
Pure fun of driving: The acceleration of the A190 Twin does have sports car std.

Translation of an article from German car mag"Auto Motor und Sport" 1999 written by Guido Stalmann

Presentation Mercedes A190 Twin
The Double                      ..
The new company car for Formula-1 world-champion Mika Häkkinen is a tough one. Mercedes presented an A-Class study to the Finn which has two engines and 250hp. Auto Motor und Sport exclusively took part at the first test drive of the new champion.
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Both photos and photo text copyrights: Auto Motor und Sport/H.D.Seufert
Everything remained the same in the front: Häkkinen and project manager Bruhnke inspect the front engine
..
Häkkinen at the test-drive: "A fantastic car"

No Formula-1 car of this world will be able to impress Mika Häkkinen that much. "That is fantastic, that's absolutely incredible" the Finn praised again and again in minute intervals. At least as often changes the facial play of the cool blonde from the usual serious face to that pleasant impish smile which brings Häkkinen into the first start row in the women's world.
Even his constant companion Didier Cotton wonders: "Mika, I've seldom seen you that much impressed". The new Formula-1 world-champion hasn't for instance seen the first drawings of the 1999 McLaren-Mercedes, no: Häkkinen actually drives the first metres with his new company car.
That the car has two engines was said to him. But he didn't know more. The other basic information he now asks from Ulrich Bruhnke whilst the first test-drive. The Mercedes project leader for the A-Class, under whose management also the A190 Twin was developed, squats behind the prominent chauffeur and proudly all smiling records the historic moment with the camcorder.
"How many horse powers does the car have?", Häkkinen asks. "250", Bruhnke answers. "Two-hundred-and-fifty" the Finn repeats with long intonation on every syllable and through the inner rear-view mirror throws an incredulous view to Bruhnke. "Wow!" A short kick on the metal accelerator pedal removes any doubt.
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Both photos and photo text copyrights: Auto Motor und Sport/H.D.Seufert 
Aggressive optics: Front spoiler of the twin-engine A-Class with great opening for two radiators
Additional background retouching by MBEP webmaster
Back to the beginnings: With the push of a button rear-engine and -drive can be deactivated

"Actually we should drive to ((German race circuit)) Hockenheim immediately" Häkkinen grinningly says. But the time only is enough for a lap in the city of Stuttgart ((Germany)). There after a few minutes becomes obvious what Häkkinen guessed already at entering ((the car)): "That is a car which the people will look after".
Inside the Formula-1 star permanently turns his head. Again and again his view searchingly wanders through the cabin. He cautiously strokes with his right hand over the center console: "Air-condition,    CD-player, airbags - everything there". Bruhnke proudly nods.
Häkkinen's curiosity is not to be satisfied: "How does the all-wheel drive work? Has the car a propeller shaft?" No, it hasn't the star is told, every engine drives the axle on which it is sitting. The electronic accelerator pedal, in connection with the electronic stability programme anyway standard in the A-Class, gives the impulse to both engines. Again Häkkinen is "impressed".
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Both photos and photo text copyrights: Auto Motor und Sport/H.D.Seufert
Häkkinen about the steering: "It is very direct, one never looses the feel for the road"
From another planet: Behind the five-spoke rim the brake system from the MB E55 promises optimum braking

The shifting works after the same principle. The gear lever over two cables executes the change of gears synchronous at both five-gear transmissions. The A190 Twin is equipped with the automatic clutch which can also be ordered with the conventional A-Class. With the changing of gears without clutch pedal Häkkinen is familiar with: "Like in my McLaren - I simply change the gear. Very comfortable.
Also the secrecy under which the A-Class was developed had Formula-1 standard. Only 15 staff were involved into the project - always with an eye onto the course of the Formula-1 championship. Do we really build the car for the next world-champion?
The development of the study in the research centre in Untertürkheim ((part of the city of Stuttgart, Germany)) lasted only four months. "The team did suffer the Moose-Test" said project manager Bruhnke, "they know what working fast means".
The idea with the two engines in the first moment sounds daring, but has a lot of advantages against other concepts. For a V8-engine for example one would have had to choose a mid-engine layout, which would have been at the expense of the rear seats.
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Both photos and photo text copyrights: Auto Motor und Sport/H.D.Seufert 
Nothing missed inside: Suede leather steering wheel, air-condition, CD-player, leather trim
Additional background retouching by MBEP webmaster
Thick cheeks: The flared rear skirt gives space for the engine

An A-Class with V8-engine and all-wheel drive would have been much heavier. The 1365kg twin-version weighs 250kg more than the base-version of the A160. And anyway Häkkinen's A-Class now has eight cylinders, too, although shared onto two identical engines with 1.9-litre displacement.
With this 125hp-engine - but as single - Mercedes will extend the range of the A-Class in 1999. The rear four-cylinder with transmission causes the elimination of the spare tyre bowl and part of the luggage space. But despite that a sports bag with helmet, driver's suit and -shoes as well as more race driver utensils would find space behind the rear seats without problems.
A big fender, flared to the rear gives more space for the rear engine. Through the black grille of the wide vent between the two exhaust pipes one can imagine that here was joined together what not necessarily belongs together.
For a study, which was developed within a short time, the A190 Twin shows a remarkable maturity.
"I like that you immediately feel like in any other Mercedes", Häkkinen praises. "That is no kit-car, no tuning car. Very solid".
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Both photos and photo text copyrights: Auto Motor und Sport/H.D.Seufert
Here the champion is happy: Häkkinen reveals the rear-engine secret
Additional background retouching by MBEP webmaster
Small silver sparrow: Slightly widened fenders and 18-inch wheels care for a sporty optics

To describe the road performance as solid would be an impertinence. With his 250hp the four-seater disrespectful pushes into the class of the sports cars. 5.7 seconds Mercedes claims for the sprint from zero to 100km/h ((0-62mph)). That is the most fresh challenge to top dogs like BMW M3 (5.5), Ferrari F355 (5.4) or Porsche Carrera (5.4).
Also the maximum torque of 360Nm at 4000 revs per minute has sports car standard. Comment Häkkinen: "Incredible." What else.
The chassis takes into account the exceptional road performance. The body is lowered 10 millimetres. The widened fenders house beautiful 18-inch wheels with Bridgestone tyres of the dimension of 225/35R18. The front brake system comes from the big AMG-brother, the 354hp strong Mercedes E55.
"I like how the car behaves. The steering is very direct, one never looses the feeling for the road", analyses Häkkinen. The noticeable losses at comfort, which kerbs, bumps and potholes reveal, don't bother him. A Formula-1 driver just likes it sporty.
Technical Data
Body
Four-seater sedan with four doors. Empty weight 1365kg.
Chassis
Independent suspension front with control arm, McPherson struts, rear with trailing arms, helical springs, shock absorbers, vented disc brakes front 334mm diameter, disc brakes rear 258mm diameter, tyre size 225/35ZR18.
Power Transmission
All-wheel drive, selectable front-wheel drive only, two five-gear transmissions with automatic clutch.
Engines
Two water-cooled four-cylinder inline-engines, each 92kw (125hp) power output, max. torque 180Nm at 4000revs/min.
Acceleration/Top Speed (Factory specifications)
Acceleration 0-100km/h ((0-62mph)) 5.7 seconds    Top Speed 230km/h ((143mph))    Data: Auto Motor und Sport
Towards the end of the test drive Häkkinen absolutely wants to start his new company car again. He turns the ignition key and listens. At first the front engine starts. Its generator then feeds the starter of the rear engine, which with a delay of roughly one second comes into life. Häkkinen grins like a child at unpacking of the christmas presents and shakes his head.
Does he think the car should go into serial production? "Of course", answers Häkkinen, knowing very well that in that case he wouldn't be the owner of an absolute rarity anymore.
At least Mercedes could then renew the first Häkkinen commercial with the A190 Twin. The story is well-known: Somewhere in the mountains the Finn picks up a beautiful lady which even now had a breakdown. The beauty is impressed by the A-Class beast and says: "That is a fast car." At Häkkinen's hint that the car has two engines she says with disparaging view: "Oh yes. And you are Formula-1 world-champion."
Guido Stalmann
End of article - translation by MBEP webmaster.
As usual remarks in ((blabla)), but (blabla) belongs to the original text.
The family name of Mika Häkkinen often also is written "Hakkinen", esp. in English-speaking countries.
The term "silver sparrow" was used with one photo`s text to reflect the German-language wordplay
"Silberkeil" (silver spearhead) which comes from "Silberpfeil" (silver arrow): A sparrow is small, fast
and manoeuvrable, just like the A190 Twin.


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