Update - Photographers have spied a similar A-Class prototype, however subtle differences point to a hotter AMG variant. See bottom of article for details.
Spy photographers have snapped the next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class during performance testing at the famed Nurburgring race track in Germany.
The prototype spotted looks largely identical to the vehicle spotted in July, sporting the same swirly black and white camouflage and false panels on the bonnet and pre-production head- and tail-lights.
It’s likely the next-generation A-Class will adopt an evolutionary design over its predecessor, though the front grille and headlights are noticeably lower than the current model, hinting at a more dynamic face.
The cutouts in the front bumper could also point to a stereoscopic forward-facing camera system.
In terms of size the next-generation car should remain fairly similar to the compact current car, though a longer wheelbase will offer better space for rear-seat passengers.
Rumours suggest a four-door sedan body style - more practical than the CLA four-door coupe - will be launched alongside the five-door hatch, however it’s believed it will be reserved for the Chinese market.
Underpinning the new A-Class will be a revised version of the current MFA platform - dubbed, predictably, ‘MFA2’.
Powertrains are expected to be mainly four-cylinder turbocharged units, along with a new plug-in hybrid system. A three-cylinder turbo could also feature in the line-up.
For the powered-up replacement for the AMG A45 hyper hatch, a report in July claimed the next-generation performance variant could produce over 300kW, while a second-tier AMG variant (think C43, E43, GLC43) is also said to be in the pipeline. Don't expect it to wear a '43' badge, however, with that name being a little too close to the top-shelf '45' moniker.
It’s believed the new A-Class will make its debut the 2017 Frankfurt motor show next September, so stay tuned for updates in the lead-up.
Should the new hatch be revealed at the Frankfurt event later next year, expect deliveries to commence in 2018.
Click the photos tab for more spy images of the next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Update: Another A-Class prototype has been spotted during testing in Southern Europe, this time with small modifications that lead us to believe Mercedes-Benz is preparing an 'entry-level' AMG variant to sit below the flagship A45.
An additional air intake on the left-hand side of the front bumper and larger brakes with drilled rotors point to a more powerful engine which needs more cold air and requires more stopping power.
Out the back there are visible exhaust tips on both sides - which was absent from the vehicle spotted at the Nurburgring - while the photographers report the prototype's exhaust note was deeper and richer.
The second vehicle was also seen driving with other AMG models though it's believed this is the 'A43' as opposed to the A45.
In July, a report by Autocar claimed the next-generation AMG A45 will produce in excess of 400hp (298kW) from an updated version of the current car's 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot petrol engine, mated to the company's new nine-speed automatic transmission.
These outputs should see the hyper hatch undercut the current model's 4.2-second 0-100km/h sprint - likely breaking the 4.0-second barrier - while a second-tier A-Class AMG variant is tipped to replace the 160kW/350Nm A250 Sport 4Matic.
It's believed the entry-level A-Class AMG will compete closely with hot hatches like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, acting as a starting point much like the larger C43, GLC43, E43 and SLC43 models.
However, having '43' could pitch the base A-Class AMG too close to its all-out sibling, meaning the company could adopt a badge in the 30s, perhaps reviving the '32' name worn by previous-generation C-Class and SLK AMG models.