After giving its new small car a Shanghai send-off, Mercedes-Benz rolled out a second version of its A-Class Concept for the New York Auto Show, today. But what you see – at least in the U.S. – may not be what you get, a senior official confiding that the hatchback prototype is just one of four different body styles that will build off the subcompact luxury car platform.
The hatch Concept, shown in New York, will reappear with only minor changes, Mercedes officials noted, the most likely revision coming with the distinctive stud-like grille.
Expect to see at least one of e four versions make it to the U.S. – the first time the A-Class will be offered here – Mercedes’ top American executive Ernst Lieb told TheDetroitBureau.com. But the executive cautioned that the timing of the American introduction is far from set in stone.
The precise date “is pretty open,” said Lieb, though he quickly added that, “it will come.” That could be several years after the planned 2012 debut of the redesigned A-Class in Europe.
The new model is a decidedly more upscale take on a small car bearing the Mercedes-Benz tri-star badge than the original A-Class. The high-gloss silver prototype also appears a fair bit larger than its actual dimensions might suggest.
Think of it as “the blueprint for the small car generation,” said Mercedes’ global product chief Dr. Joachim Schmidt, during the concept vehicle’s New York Auto Show unveiling.
It’s a generation which does not immediately equate size with cost, but it does link technology with desirability. So, the production version of the A-Class will be loaded with an array of high-tech features normally reserved for more expensive models, like the S-Class, including the maker’s new Collision Protection System, which uses radar and adaptive brake assistance.
Mercedes’ desire to target the new micro-luxury car market is not surprising – at least not if the maker’s forecasts are accurate. It believes the global market for cars of the A-Class size will grow from 5.8 million in 2010 to 7.7 million a decade later.
To broaden the new appeal of the new A-Class, Lieb revealed to TheDetroitBureau.com that “there will be four cars” sharing the A-Class designation, including the coupe-like hatchback shown in New York. He declined to discuss the other variants, which are still in development, though sources suggest a crossover is among them. And a more sedan-like model might be included in the mix, reflecting the tastes of the U.S. market.
Working out which product will have the broadest appeal is only part of the process, Lieb stressed. He also wants to ensure U.S. dealers can relate to and work with the new generation of buyers the A-Class would likely attract.
But the chief executive of Mercedes’ U.S. sales subsidiary notes that dealers were overwhelming positive in response after seeing the new A-Class Concept, which could speed up the process.
A U.S. launch, he suggests, “is not going to be far out” into the future.