Concept previews new entry-level model that will fight rivals such as the Audi A3 saloon and China-only BMW 2 Series Saloon
19 April 2017

The Mercedes-Benz Concept A Saloon, revealed at the Shanghai motor show, previews the striking design of a new entry-level saloon.

A production version is set to reach the UK by the end of next year and will be part of the German firm’s eight-model compact car line-up.

The new four-door has been conceived to challenge the likes of the Audi A3 saloon and upcoming BMW 1 Series saloon. The latter is currently produced and sold exclusively in China, but BMW officials say it is likely to be offered globally when the third-generation 1 Series is launched in 2019.

As with the models offered by its premium brand rivals, the new Mercedes saloon is set to give buyers the choice of a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, including a 400bhp-plus turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit in a range-topping A45 4Matic variant.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz CLA road test review - hero front

The CLS sold on its exclusivity. Can the Mercedes CLA pull the same trick - or do its A-Class underpinnings hold it back?


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Insiders suggest this car will be added to the Mercedes-AMG line-up in 2019 as a direct competitor to the recently introduced Audi RS3 saloon.

Also planned is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version that will offer a pure-electric driving range of up to 31 miles. Alongside standard front-wheel drive, the A-Class saloon is also being engineered to support Mercedes’ multi-plate clutch 4Matic four-wheel drive system in combination with most engines. Again, this mirrors the strategy adopted with Audi and BMW for the A3 saloon and 1 Series saloon.

The new A-Class saloon will take a place in Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up alongside successor models to the A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA, as well as a new SUV, likely to be called GLB, that will rival the BMW X1.

The identity of the eighth model in the new line-up remains under wraps, although insiders at Mercedes’ headquarters in Stuttgart suggest it may be a two-door cabriolet version of the new SUV to counter the Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet.

The planned introduction of the A-Class saloon comes in response to customers’ calls for a more practical alternative to the German car maker’s existing price-leading four-door model, the CLA.

Key design elements include what Mercedes describes as the ‘predator face’ — an aggressive-looking front section dominated by a low-set oval-shaped grille, large trapezoidal shaped headlights and a contoured bonnet. The striking new look will be shared across the new A-Class line-up and will also feature on other new Mercedes models, including the third-generation CLS, due out later this year.

Read all the latest news from the 2017 Shanghai motor show here

The styling reveals a conscious shift away from the heavily sculptured treatment of existing Mercedes-Benz models towards a smoother appearance with fewer crease lines. The Concept A Saloon has a traditional three-box silhouette with short overhangs, a shape that aims to match the practicality offered by the four-door A3 and 1 Series models.

The new look, described by Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener as a development of the current ‘Sensual Purity’ styling lineage first adopted by the C-Class back in 2014, aims to provide future Mercedes models with ‘timeless’ aesthetic appeal.

“The Concept A Saloon shows that the time of creases is over,” Wagener said. “Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme. [The car] has the potential to introduce a new design era.”

As well as closely hinting at the design of the new A-Class saloon, the Concept A Saloon also reveals the so-called Panamericana grille treatment, with its vertical slats, as well as the aggressively styled front bumper to be adopted by AMG performance versions of the new Mercedes model.

At 4570mm in length, 1870mm in width and 1462mm in height, the Concept A is claimed to mirror the dimensions of the production A-Class saloon that is planned to be assembled alongside the A-Class hatchback, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA at Mercedes-Benz’s Kecskemét plant in Hungary.

The dimensions make it 112mm longer, 74mm wider and 46mm higher than the Audi A3 saloon. It is also 116mm shorter, 60mm wider and 20mm higher than the Mercedes C-Class, which until now has been the German car maker’s most affordable dedicated saloon model.

Read more: 

New Mercedes-AMG GT Concept to make production in 2019

Mercedes-Benz X-Class concept previews new pick-up

Mercedes Generation EQ concept revealed at Paris motor show

Mercedes-AMG GT four-door - first pics of 600bhp Porsche Panamera rival

Join the debate


18 April 2017
the "Predator face" looks like the current Mustang. Must say 400 bp is an impressive amount of power to extract from a 2.0 l engine.

18 April 2017
Alfa,Audi,BMW,just three design cues I see,I'm sure others will see more,it is the rear I have issue with,it is a bit too compact,overall it is a bit like others which isn't Mercedes to me.

18 April 2017
Looks good, but doesn't look like a Merc!

18 April 2017
If it is FWD, I'm not interested.

18 April 2017
+ve: The rear lights neatly defined by the crease line & the panel edge.
-ve: Squashed proportions look as if it's an adapted rather than a clean-sheet design.
-ve: The typical Mercedes sad face (the adoption of the 'SL' grille across the range is I think a mistake)
-ve: The huge air intake below the grille. How much of it is blanked-off, or maybe 'fake' nolonger matters in this political post-truth era?

18 April 2017
Just looks like a CLA to me with a more practical roofline to me.

18 April 2017
If they took off the three-pointed star, would you know it was a Mercedes? As I'm not a fan of the current range, that may be no bad thing - and I do like it in the red used here (provided they filled-in the huge air intake).

But in this age of Russian-doll design, the rest of the range would probably be made to look like this. And as this is a mashup of other car designs, might the other brands follow suit so that all cars end up being identical? I wonder if that would lead to lower depreciation...

18 April 2017
New!? yet it manages to look just like a mild evolution of the existing CLA (which is awkward because of its weird narrow-mobile proportions, hopefully this is wider) it also manages to look just like a mashup of a BMW 2 series and an Audi A3 Saloon. So not actually new just more of the same utilitarian germanic box tweaking. Wunderbar !

19 April 2017
It looks far better in the red, but that probably fake vent across the front is hideous. Lose that and smooth out the creases on the sides and it'd be pretty good because the back end is quite tidy already.

19 April 2017
I'm sure I have seen Mercedes A-Class Saloon certainly not as popular as the A-Class but still. In fact I saw one this morning on M20.


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week