The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a mini MPV introduced in 1997. The A-Class represented the entry level model of Mercedes-Benz.
Production of the W168 A-Class began in 1997. Its front engine, front wheel drive layout was quite unusual for Mercedes. One innovation of the W168 was a frontal-impact absorption system called the "Sandwich." In the event of a violent frontal impact, the engine and transmission would slide underneath the floor below the pedals rather than entering the passenger compartment.
Source: Wikipedia, 2012