Mercedes-Benz is planning to enter the hot hatch market in 2012 with a 320bhp AMG-badged A-class.
The hot AMG version of the new, third-generation A-class will have a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and four-wheel drive. It is being developed by Mercedes’ AMG performance arm under the direction of its new boss, Ola Källenius.
The hot A-class is due on sale in the UK in September 2012. It will be priced to compete with the Audi RS3, Volkswagen Golf R and an M Sport-badged, turbocharged four-cylinder version of BMW’s second-generation 1-series hatchback — which suggests that it could be around £35k.
The new A-class will be based on Mercedes’ MFA (Modularen Frontantriebs-Architektur) platform — a newly developed unitary construction structure that ditches the heavy and expensive ‘sandwich floor’ of today’s model.
Codenamed W176, the car is radically different from its tall predecessor. It takes on a much lower and more conventional two-box silhouette, overlaid with taut surfacing and styling cues first seen on the F800 Style concept car.
The racy new look will be previewed on a concept at next year’s Shanghai motor show. It is designed to attract a younger customer than today’s A-class.
The look will be further embellished on the AMG version by uniquely styled bumpers, pronounced sills, chromed tailpipes and 18-inch wheels.
AMG had planned to use a 2.0-litre, direct injection engine running an electrically operated turbocharger from Swiss firm Hyprex. But concerns over its complexity and related production costs have forced a switch to a more conventional powerplant using a mechanical twin-scroll turbo.