The new A-Class, which will debut at March's 2012 Geneva motor show, will be built on the company's new MFA platform shared with the new B-Class. The major difference between the two vehicles, in terms of the platform, will be the floor height.
While the higher-floor version of the MFA platform gives the new B-Class the higher seating position and MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) style desired by current B-Class buyers, the new A-Class - as CarAdvice's spy pictures reveal - switches from the MPV design to a more conventional hatchback look that will target the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volkswagen Golf.
From these spy images, we can see the model will take on Mercedes-Benz's latest design language, with a two-tier front grille, large headlights, and solid lines.
Inside, the new A-Class is expected to feature an almost identical interior to the new B-Class, with a clean layout, aviation-style air vents, and a sporty three-spoke steering wheel.
Power will likely come from a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, including two 1.6-litre petrol items producing 90kW and 115kW, and a 1.8-litre diesel producing 80kW and 100kW.
An A-Class AMG version is also on its way, expecting to bring with it performance to match rivals such as the Audi S3 and VW Golf R. Power is set to come from a 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder engine producing around 240kW of power. An all-wheel drive system is on the cards.