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by Jez Spinks

The next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class will start from $35,600 when it arrives in March 2013.

The German luxury car maker has confirmed pricing for the new hatchback range, which will make its local debut at this month’s 2012 Sydney motor show.

Four variants will feature in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class line-up initially, with the entry-level Mercedes-Benz A180 joined by the A200 BE, A200 CDI BE and A250 Sport.

Mercedes-Benz says it could have put the new A-Class into showrooms with an even lower price tag but was adamant the car would be well equipped throughout the range.

Every A-Class comes standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle-shift levers, engine stop-start, nine airbags, electronic park brake, reverse-view camera, parking guidance, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity, and safety aids such as the radar-based Collision Prevention Assist, Pre-Safe that adjusts seatbelts/seats and closes windows and sunroofs if an imminent crash is detected, and Attention Assist that can detect driver drowsiness.

The Mercedes-Benz A180 BE sits on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes with a sports-focused interior featuring fabric and artificial leather seats, with a ‘Matrix’ trim.

It’s powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with direct fuel injection that produces 90kW of power and 200Nm of torque. Fuel efficiency is officially rated at 5.8L/100km with CO2 emissions of 135g/km.

The Mercedes-Benz A200 BE and A200 CDI are essentially twins separated by their petrol and diesel engines. Both cost $40,900 before on-road costs are added.

Each A200 adds 18-inch alloy wheels, electrically folding mirrors, dual outer exhaust pipes, leather steering wheel, auto dimming mirrors, four-way lumbar seat support, and ‘Diamond’ trim.

The A200 petrol uses a more powerful version of the A180’s engine, with outputs of 115kW and 250Nm. It is slightly less economical at 6.1L/100km (141g/km).

The A200 diesel employs a 1.8-litre four-cylinder with 100kW and 300Nm, and is the most frugal of the A-Class engines at 4.6L/100km (121g/km).

The Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport sits at the top of the range until the arrival of the A45 AMG hot-hatch in late 2013. The A45 will be all-wheel drive compared with the other front-wheel-drive A-Class models.

Mercedes say the A250 Sport is effectively its rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, though it’s much more expensive at $49,900.

It has the same power as the GTI, with 155kW produced by the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder. Torque peaks at 350Nm. Fuel consumption is 6.6L/100km with emissions of 152g/km.

The A250 had significant engineering involvement from Mercedes’ performance division AMG, including suspension tuning.

There are also AMG features such as the 18-inch alloy wheels, bodykit, and steering wheel.

Other highlights include bi-xenon headlights, panoramic roof, privacy glass, artificial leather sports seats, carbonfibre trim, sports pedals and red seatbelts.

Seven optional packages are also available for the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, depending on variant and ranging from $490 to $2990.

Satellite navigation is not standard on any A-Class, making it the one surprise omission.

Instead there’s an integrated Becker satellite navigation system that can be ordered for $1190.

Related news: New A-Class about new and younger buyers not volume, says Mercedes