Fancy a brand-new five-door Mercedes-Benz for less than $35,000?
That’s what can be expected for a starting price for the next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class when it arrives in Australia, early in 2013.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the A in A-Class will stand for "attack” as the company takes an aggressive aim at the entire prestige hatch segment, including higher-end versions of the Volkswagen Golf.
Just like the recently released all-new B-Class [click to read the review], the third-generation A-Class is built off the same compact platform that Mercedes-Benz and part of a new small car family of five vehicles all proudly wearing the three-pointed star.
Joining this new small car line-up will be a compact SUV to take on the likes of Audi’s Q3 and BMW’s X1 and a small four-door coupe, with the likely nameplate of CLA, which as reported by CarAdvice last week, will be unveiled at the upcoming 2012 Beijing motor show. Add to that a three-door A-Class along with a high-powered AMG version with all-wheel drive, and the result is a significant arsenal in the compact segment.
The lower pricing of the new A-Class can be expected to deliver not only a larger group of buyers for Mercedes but also a significantly younger demographic than the previous model that attracted an average age of buyer about twice the age Benz was originally hoping to attract.
A more conventional-looking hatchback rather than the previous model's tall-body/MPV styling will help. At 409mm lower and 160mm longer than the old model, the new A-Class also has a more purposeful, sporty stance.
Mercedes will also enter hot-hatch territory with an AMG version of the A-Class, with the company's go-fast division already having worked on development of the regular hatch's suspension.
The hot-hatch, expected to be called the A25 AMG, will produce about 250kW from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, with that power sent to all four wheels.
Engines for the rest of the A-Class range will likely be various tunes of the fuel-efficient 1.6-litre carried over from the recently released B-Class, as well as a more powerful 2.0-litre, but all with direct injection and turbocharging.
Expect the 1.8-litre diesel engine (also from the B-Class) and a 2.2-litre version to be available also.
Transmission options will include a six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch option.
Like the B-Class, the new A-Class will be rich with technology, with a raft of safety and comfort features on board including a radar-based collision prevention system, which is active at speeds between 30 and 250km/h. The system automatically brakes the car and prepares the seatbelts (pulls them tight) if it detects an unavoidable collision is about to occur.
You’ll also be able to browse the web with voice commands, with full smartphone connectivity available in A-Class.