These are the cars BMW must compete with when it launches its new entry-level model.
Audi will bring back the A2 name in 2012 — but the second generation of the car will ditch the original’s expensive aluminium spaceframe construction and use a regular steel monocoque.The switch is likely to mean lower build costs, potentially allowing Audi to price the car aggressively against rivals Mercedes and BMW.The new A2 is likely to adopt the tall one-box styling of its predecessor, and it could feature a range-extender powerplant.
Merc A/B class
Mercedes’ first crack at front-drive was very clever and very expensive. The A-class’s sandwich platform and slanted drivetrain brought lots of space on a small wheelbase and excellent safety, but it was also extraordinarily expensive to build.The firm is working an all-new entry-level range, expected as early as next year. Based on an all-new, conventional, front-drive platform, the line-up is likely to include a high-roofed monobox like the A-class, a new B-class and a conventional MPV.
Smart has been a loss-maker for Mercedes and has been kept in business against the odds. Only a tie-up with another car maker could keep it alive.Mercedes has done a deal with Renault, and will work on a new rear-engined platform to underpin the next Smart Fortwo, a new Smart four-seater and the successor to the Renault Twingo.The new models will arrive from 2013, and electrically driven versions will be available from launch, as well as three and four-cylinder motors.
Infinit DX SUV
Renault-Nissan could take further advantage of its tie-up with Daimler to create a European-built entry-level model for Infiniti.Reports from France say Renault-Nissan may build a new small SUV on the upcoming Mercedes A-class platform. This would provide it with its most European-oriented model yet.A baby Infiniti SUV, similar in size to the Note-based Nissan Juke concept (left), would slot in under the current EX and would rival BMW’s X1.
There’s little news on the shape of the next-gen Mini, other than that it will share its platform with a range of compact, front-drive BMWs.Future Minis will again come in two distinct sizes: three and five-door models. The range will be rolled out from 2013, starting with a replacement for the three-door Mini.It’s also likely that this year’s relatively short-lived coupé and roadster models will become permanent fixtures in the third-gen Mini range.