As well as a coupé variant, Mercedes-Benz is also mulling over a roadster version. This has led to suggestions that it may eventually replace the SLK, although this has been denied by company officials.
As with its Audi TT rival, the new Mercedes-Benz is proposed to use a transversely mounted engine and come
with the choice of standard front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive.
The starting point for the coupé is a new front-wheel drive platform developed in a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Described as being more flexible than today’s MFA structure, it is designed to permit greater variation in wheelbase and track widths as well as providing greater scope for the storage of batteries and gas tanks in possible hybrid and fuel cell derivatives.
The new underpinnings are being earmarked for successor models to the existing A, B, CLA and GLA-Class. In addition, elements of it will also be used by the upcoming Infiniti Q30 and the QX30, which was previewed in concept guise at the Geneva show in March.
Details of the new platform remain under wraps, although Mercedes-Benz officials have hinted that it will incorporate a number of weight-saving features, including increased use of hot-formed high-strength steel in the floorpan.
Power for the new coupé is expected to come from a range of heavily updated four-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants that are being developed in partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Although it is still early days, the suggestions are that the new coupé could also be offered with the choice of either a petrol-electric or diesel-electric system.
At the top of the new range
is likely to be an Audi TT RS
and BMW M2-chasing AMG model running a further powered-up version of the
A45 AMG’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. Close to 400bhp is tipped. With a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, it should be good for 0-62mph in less than 4.5sec and a top speed limited to 155mph.
As well as the new coupé, Mercedes-Benz has formed plans for a new entry-level saloon to go up against the Audi A3 saloon and upcoming BMW 1 Series saloon. Described as offering greater rear leg room and boot space that the current CLA, the new saloon is set to appear in 2018 as a further addition to the firm’s compact car line-up.
Another new model set to use the new MFA platform is the proposed GLB - an entry-level SUV conceived to go up against the upcoming Audi Q1 and second-generation Mini Countryman. As with the new coupé, it is tentatively scheduled to go on sale in 2019. It will take its styling cues from the G-Class and be much more of an SUV than the current GLA, which is more of a high-riding A-Class hatchback.
By the end of the decade, Mercedes-Benz could offer up to eight new compact models, including the A-Class hatchback, A-Class saloon, A-Class coupé, A-Class roadster, B-Class, B-Class
long wheelbase, CLA-Class, GLA-Class and GLB-Class.
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