New 1-series rival and small 4x4 to expand Mercedes range
27 March 2008

This affordable new coupé and a junior four-wheel drive will spearhead additions to Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level line-up as the German giant revamps the A-class and B-class. Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche has given the go-ahead for a new product plan that will expand the A-class range to include a BMW 1-series-rivalling coupé when the third-generation model arrives in 2011.The secret dossier of upcoming models also includes a heavily reworked B-class. That car will create a BMW X1-challenging baby 4x4 in an attempt to boost Mercedes’ sales in the premium small car market to over 280,000 cars per year by early in the next decade.The coupé, tipped to be called CLA, is being developed in response to strong sales of the BMW 1-series and Audi A3 - both of which have firmly established themselves within Europe’s new car sales charts in recent years - along with newcomers like 2009’s Alfa Romeo 147 replacement and the new baby Saab previewed at the recent Geneva motor show as the 9-X BioHybrid. “We want to expand the A-class and B-class line-ups to at least double that of today’s levels,” Mercedes-Benz chief executive officer Rainer Schmueckle revealed to Autocar. “There is great sales potential in the addition of specific new models.” He suggested each model would support up to three distinct variants in the future to achieve greater economies of scale while offering buyers greater choice. By positioning the new car as a coupé rather than a hatchback Mercedes-Benz will try to give the CLA an upmarket image, as well as justifying prices that are likely to start at the equivalent of £19,000 when sales get under way just over four years from now. In the longer term the new car is expected to replace the three-door CLC, which is based around the old C-class and assembled in Brazil.Powering the CLA will be a new range of four-cylinder, direct-injection petrol and common-rail diesel engines. Unlike the units used in today’s A and B-class line-ups, they will be shared with other models in the Mercedes range. Power outputs will range from 120bhp to 200bhp.

Greg Kable

Read the full story in Autocar 26 March

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27 March 2008

Great! So i guess it will switch the CLC to FWD now then? So much for tradional Merc values.

27 March 2008

Looks good - better resolved than a 1-Series coupe anyway!

27 March 2008

It's just an Autocar guestimate image.

30 March 2008

I love the use of the word "affordable". Do you mean "affordable" like a Hyundai i10 is affordable?

31 March 2008

I'm not too fond of that image. The wheelarches are little too squared off and it looks like it's trying to be more mini4x4 than a coupe. Reminds of the dreadfull Rover Streetwise somehow!

If Merc want to target the 1-Series and A3, they need something lower, sleeker and with no gimmicky styling touches (like those square arches) in my opinion.

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