August Horch, who lived through the years of motor vehicle development at Benz, describes this period in his autobiography. Time and again, he tried to convince Papa Benz, as he called him, of the necessity of performance increase. On one occasion he was even successful, probably through changing the compression, he was able to squeeze one whole HP more from the single cylinder engine.
In 1897, the time of restraint was over. Despite their soon having a planetary gearbox, which after all, had three speeds, they could hardly manage even relatively modest inclines. It was quite symptomatic, that the sale of Victoria and consorts was revoked. Whereby, up to this point they had controlled the European market.
Something which may also be new to you, is that Mercedes were the first ones to build a Boxer-engine in series. Well, not really, because at that time Daimler and Benz were still separate and the brand-name 'Mercedes' did not yet exist. In fact it was quite the opposite, although they never met personally, they were fierce rivals. Have a look at the next paragraph, about the 1898 Phoenix-engine, which was a forerunner the change in supremacy.
Thus, the Phoenix rather rose from the ashes, because the engine shown right at the top would still take two years before being installed in a motor car. It was, by the way, called the 'Contra-engine', to emphasize the opposing movement of the two pistons. This is caused by position of the crankshaft webs, which is always the case in boxer-engines.
August Horch and his team by the way, had developed this Contra- and the Twin-engine at about the same time. In this case, it was probably the fact that the mass-compensation was better and the even ignitions, which justified the higher effort required for the Boxer-engine. In 1902, it would be found in versions with up to 3.720 cc and 15 kW (20 HP).
The higher performance is particularly a result of the higher RPM. Together with the favourable shape, a new car was created, apart from the 'Vis-à-Vis'- the so-called 'Dos-à-dos' model also appeared, where the rear seat passengers sit back-to-back with those in the front (see pictures 4 and 8 and the video). 07/14