Mercedes won’t go chasing the Audi A1 and BMW Mini for the medium term.

That’s according to Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, who has ruled out the idea of a sub-A-class Mercedes hatchback — for now.

In response to rumours circulating about a will to plug the gap between the new A-class and next year’s Smart Forfour, itself measuring less than 3.5 metres in length, Zetsche told Autocar at the Frankfurt motor show: “it’s clear that there’s an opportunity for a supermini. Such a car would offer plenty of volume for us, but it would also be tough to make profit from.

“For now, I don’t see a need for us to go that way,” he said, “but further down the line, it’s a possibility.”

Zetsche was speaking after the unveiling of the GLA compact crossover – the fourth of Mercedes' new breed of compact cars based on the ‘MFA’ platform after the A-class, B-class and CLA-class. There will be a fifth – but it’ll be a CLA Shooting Brake, according to Autocar’s sources, rather than a compact convertible or a supermini, as some have suggested.

The idea of a premium supermini isn’t likely to go away for Mercedes, however, with BMW on the cusp of delivering its third-generation Mini hatchback, and both Audi and Alfa Romeo now doing good business in the same segment.

“We want to build dreams with our new generation of compact cars,” said Zetsche. “There’s no doubt that the first-generation A- and B-class failed on that. The new ones are much stronger and more desirable.”

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