Mercedes has released pricing and specifications for its new hatchback five months ahead of its local arrival, timing its announcement for the start later this week of the 2012 Sydney motor show.
The A-Class will start from $35,600, not only undercutting direct rivals such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series but also placing the Mercedes five-door well into Volkswagen Golf territory.
“We could have made the A-Class cheaper,” said Mercedes-Benz spokesman David McCarthy, “but we would have had to take out equipment.
"We’ve been assertive rather than aggressive with pricing. It’s not just about selling cars but about saying to buyers, ‘Have you considered a Mercedes-Benz?’
“It will deliver a lot of traffic to our showrooms like we’ve never had before.
“One thing we bring to the [hatchback] segment that’s pretty compelling – besides safety, equipment and price – is that it brings the three-pointed star.”
Mercedes says rivals will stretch beyond direct competitors such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, pointing out that about half of all Volkswagen Golfs sold in Australia cost more than $35,000.
The third-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the first to adopt a hatchback body style. The original and follow-up were MPV-style vehicles, which Mercedes admits appealed to an older audience.
“A- and B-Class buyers were more mature previously,” said McCarthy. “But the new A-Class will bring that [average buyer age] down.
“We have a $36,000 to half-a-million-dollar budget range [with Mercedes], with a lot of stops in between. That’s why this car is so important.”
Mercedes-Benz Australia says global demand for the new A-Class will restrict local supply and that as a result it will sell each of the hatches it imports.
The company wouldn’t provide a sales estimate for the model.
Mercedes-Benz Australia managing director Horst von Sanden says the new A-Class will play the central role in a year he describes as being a milestone for the company.
“2013 will be one of the most important years in our brand’s Australian history,” he said. “It will be the year we expect to both springboard our volume north and further expand our customer reach.”