Mercedes-Benz’s sub A-class model will take the form of a compact SUV according to a senior manager from the German car maker with knowledge of the new project.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity at the Geneva motor show this week, the Mercedes-Benz manager revealed to Autocar that development work had started on a Volkswagen Polo-sized model boasting iconic styling cues from the 34-year-old G-class.

“We have ideas for a B-segment car with a modern take on the traditional styling from the G-class. We’ve already indicated a desire to extend the G-class line-up with the Ener-G-Force concept shown at the motor show in Los Angeles, and this car is part of those plans.”

The compact Mercedes-Benz SUV, which is tentatively due to see showrooms in 2016, has been conceived as a rival to a new small Land Rover SUV previewed by the DC100 concept car, and a production version of the Volkswagen Taigun concept.

Known to insiders as the City-G, it is planned to be based on a joint venture platform being developed in an engineering program between Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler and its alliance partner, Renault-Nissan.

The so-called JC1 (joint compact first generation) structure is planned to support at least two different wheelbase lengths, varying track widths and both front- and four-wheel drive layouts.

As well as underpinning the new B-segment SUV, the new platform, which has been described to Autocar as being an extension of Mercedes-Benz’s existing MFA (modular front architecture) structure, is also earmarked for successor models to the existing second-generation B-class, recently introduced third-generation A-class, the new CLA saloon and upcoming GLA SUV – the latter of which will be both larger and more expensive than the City-G.

Among the engines for the new Mercedes-Benz will be a range of new small capacity four-cylinder direct-injection petrol and common rail diesel units currently under development as part of the joint venture with Renault-Nissan.