6 July 2004

More details of Mercedes’ second-generation A-class emerged last week, with the international debut on a cruise ship bobbing on the Aegean Sea. Prices and equipment levels have not been finalised, but the UK won’t get the generous Euro spec revealed two weeks ago, including tinted glass, side airbags and air-con as standard. All UK cars will, however, come with a space-saver spare wheel instead of Merc’s Tirefit sealant. Equipment will be grouped into Benz’s familiar Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde trim levels. A special Sport trim will be available for cars with the 190bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine.

Merc expects an equal split in demand for petrol and diesel variants, and for one in four cars sold to be a three-door initially. Benz’s Rastatt plant is capable of producing 300,000 cars a year, a significant chunk of which will be the forthcoming midi-MPV, known to Mercedes as the Compact Sports Tourer, and to us as the B-class. Due in mid-’05 and designed largely for the American market, it will have a longer body and wheelbase than the A-class on which it is based, a six-cylinder engine option, all-wheel drive and up to seven seats.

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