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Mercedes offers a Tease of Next-Gen A-Class

Will Americans accept a pocket-sized Benz?

by on Jan.24, 2012

Mercedes expects to produce as many as four variants of the next-gen A-Class.

Luxury cars have traditional been measured by the inch and pound.  But times are changing – at least in most parts of the world.  But it remains to be seen whether U.S. buyers will embrace the pint-sized Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the smallest model ever developed by the German luxury giant.

Downsized luxury cars, such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, haven’t exactly been hits with traditional buyers.  But, as this teaser image – (and a 56-second preview you can check out on You.Tube) – suggests, Mercedes isn’t going after the same customer who would opt for an S-, E- or even a C-Class.

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To underscore its focus on the tech-savvy Gen-X and Millennial customers just entering the luxury market in serious numbers, Mercedes has bathed the prototype shown her in QR codes, the more advanced version of barcodes, which can be used to find out more about the third-generation A-Class.

Mercedes-Benz revealed this early A-Class Concept at the 2011 NY Auto Show.

Better yet, the maker will introduce a new app for iPhone and Android phone users that will let give the winner a trip for two to Geneva, in March, to witness the new A-Class debut.

What they’ll discover is a very different look from the original A-Class versions, which rode high off the ground on a chassis originally conceived as a way to handle both battery and hydrogen fuel-cell drivelines.  The new model still opts for a tall hatch layout that yields maximum space in a minimum footprint, the look in line with an Audi A3.

A concept version of the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class was unveiled at last year’s New York Auto Show and, at the time, former Mercedes U.S. CEO Ernst Lieb told that he expected at least three and possibly four distinctly different body styles to share the A-Class platform.  So, it’s far from certain this model will be the one we’ll ultimately get in the States.

Mercedes will provide the premium compact platform for the vehicle Infiniti will base on its Etherea concept.

The show car, seen here, featured a 210-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter inline-four.  The main American version of the A-Class is expected to share the 1.8-liter turbo-four from the Mercedes C250.  And there are reports that AMG will weigh in with 340-hp hot hatch that will feature a twin-scroll turbo, a 7-speed DSG and 4Matic.

Significantly, the new A-Class will be the first of several offerings Mercedes-Benz plans to build off the new front-wheel-drive MFA architecture.  During a conversation with at last autumn’s Frankfurt Motor Show, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche revealed that this platform will be shared with as many as five different future Mercedes models – also including the Teutonic maker’s slightly larger B-Class replacement.

The MFA chassis also will be shared with the Renault-Nissan Alliance as part of an expanding series of joint ventures.  The Japanese maker has confirmed plans to use it as the foundation for a production version of the Infiniti Etherea, a concept car that received widespread acclaim following its unveiling at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

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