Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche has set his company the target of being the world's largest premium car maker by 2020 - not just in terms of sales, but also in terms of brand strength, product quality and profitability.

No small task then. Especially when you consider the three-pointed star (1.26 million cars sold in 2011) is currently trailing BMW (1.66m) and Audi (1.30m). To overtake its rivals of course means doing a better job than them, because they're not exactly standing still.

Zetsche has already identified his major pillars of growth: new product launches, increasing production capacity, growing, market share and emerging markets will help it to grow its sales to BMW's 2011 figure by 2015, he says.

Even so, that leaves just five years to hit its 2020 target of 2.7m sales - a figure that's double that of today.

How will he do that? The unmentioned implication of Zetsche's ambitious goal is that Mercedes is coming from further behind than its rivals - and can therefore out accelerate their growth by making bigger leaps forward. Certainly the new products are coming thick and fast, there's a raft of new plants coming, and impressive sales figures around the world - but BMW and Audi aren't lagging in these areas either.

Perhaps more key is a shift in emphasis to attracting young, new buyers to the brand, especially with its compact cars. The B-class may be more conventional than ever now, but that has opened up room for a far more dynamic A-class and the great looking CLA. An Audi Q3/BMW X1 rival is on the way, as is a CLA Shooting Brake.

Be in no doubt, Mercedes, so long the epitome of stuffy, starchy conservatism, is changing. Sure, the C-class isn't going to undergo a radical overhaul anymore than the S-class is, but at least with its small cars Mercedes is reaching out to a far bigger audience. Zetsche even went so far as to describe the CLA as a "rebel" when he unveiled it today (albeit while dressed in a suit).

It represents a major shift in attitude. Question now is whether it'll be enough of a shift to prompt that sales spurt?