These leaked patent images give us our first look at the production version of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

Obtained by Belgian site AutoScoops, the pictures reveal an exterior that is toned down significantly from the Concept A-Class, which debuted at the 2011 New York International Auto Show last month.

The overall design is much more conservative, with its face and raised bonnet line arguably giving the hatch a Volvo-esque look. The reverse mesh grille has been replaced by a traditional Mercedes twin crossbar setup, while the sharp, dramatic lines of the headlights make way for a broader, rectangular arrangement.

The back of the A-Class is a considerable departure from the concept design. The wide stance created by the stretched lights and diffuser has been substituted for a more rounded rear, which shares much with the Citroen DS3.

The taillights in particular are unlike any other current Mercedes-Benz vehicle, showing that Mercedes is determined to make the new A-Class unique in the range.

The side profile now incorporates four doors instead of two, and as a result loses the coupe attitude. Mercedes has also softened the creases in the doors, although positively, the twin character lines from the concept are still largely retained.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is likely to be unveiled in production form before the end of the year, with production to begin next year.

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