Mercedes-Benz says the four-wheel drive, 300bhp hot Mercedes A-class that it is planning is part of a push to make the car and brand appeal to a young audience.
The German manufacturer will bring in an AMG-badged performance A-class later this year, with a launch planned at the Paris motor show in September. The standard A-class range has been unveiled at the Geneva motor show.
The launch range of the A-class will consist of the same engines as the recently introduced B-class – 107bhp and 136bhp turbocharged 1.8-litre common rail diesels and a turbocharged 1.6-litre direct injection petrol unit in two states of tune that produces either 154bhp or 120bhp.
A 250bhp front-wheel drive model and the full-on AMG will form the performance options, with the latter taking the A25 AMG name. Both will use heavily reworked versions of Mercedes’ existing M271/M274 turbocharged four-cylinder petrol motor.
Merc’s AMG division has called on the services of its High Performance Engine (HPE) offshoot in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, for engineering help in the development of the engine.
The unit features the same 7mm wall thickness and 90mm bore centre space as Mercedes-Benz HPE had envisaged for its stillborn turbocharged 1.6-litre Formula 1 engine.
AMG’s decision to involve HPE in the development of the A25’s engine follows tough engineering targets laid down by its boss, Ola Kallenius — a former head of HPE. He has insisted that the turbocharged 2.0-litre unit produce more power than the 335bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre, five-pot engine in the Audi RS3 Sportback and the 316bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six used by BMW’s forthcoming M135i hatch. The new BMW hot hatch is earmarked to make an appearance at the Geneva motor show in March.
Further details remain scarce, although Autocar sources suggest the engine will receive a bore and stroke of around 83mm x 89mm, hinting at a capacity of 2.0-litres.
Despite earlier plans to provide the new engine with pressure-wave turbocharger technology from Swiss firm Hyprex, it is now set to run a more conventional exhaust gas-driven twin-scroll turbocharger in combination with the latest in piezo-guided direct injection.
The new A-class is intended to bring a younger audience to the Mercedes brand and so the German maker “wants to make it more sporty and desirable” than the older model, so is keen to offer it in sports-oriented variants.
A new, more advanced iPhone interface is also being introduced in the new model. Prices for the new A-class haven't been confirmed yet but it will be competitive with direct rivals such as the BMW 1-Series and Audi A3.
Vicky Parrott and Greg Kable