The new Mercedes-Benz A-class hatchback will stay true to the rakish concept shown at the recent Shanghai motor show, judging by these first spy shots of the production car.
Mercedes is turning the new 2012 A-class into a high-quality, sporty mainstream rival for forthcoming BMW 1-series and Audi A3 replacements, leaving the next-gen B-class to fill the role of the small MPV.
The biggest change for the production Mercedes A-class over the three-door Vision A concept is the addition of rear doors. The roadgoing model retains the show car’s narrow glasshouse and sharply raked front windscreen and A-pillars. The roofline is not as steeply angled as the near-coupé-like slant of the concept’s, although it is a world apart from the boxy styling of the previous two A-class models.
At the Shanghai show, Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener described the Vision A concept as “realistic” next to the production car. “Obviously, the real thing is a five-door,” he said. “We will make changes to the window line, headlights and grille, but that’s it.”
Mercedes is placing great emphasis on interior quality, with plastics, trim and switchgear borrowed from the C-class.
The new A-class is understood to feature an all-new platform, known as the MFA, with strut front suspension and a multi-link rear.
Power for the new A-class family will initially come from the existing range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines used in the C-class, but modified for a transverse installation.
The core engine will be a 2.0-litre petrol unit, which the Vision A previewed in 204bhp hot hatch form. It will be mated to a dual-clutch gearbox, which replaces the CVT that is used in today’s A-class and B-class. Cooking versions of the petrol model are likely to develop closer to 150bhp.
Diesels will be centred on Merc’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder unit, with power ranging from 130bhp to 180bhp.
The new A-class and B-class will also be joined by a compact four-door sports saloon, previewed by Merc’s F800 concept.