The next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been snapped testing alongside its small-car competitors, offering a peek at the German marque's next entry to the competitive premium compact segment.

Although the prototype is still heavily camouflaged, it’s clear the new hatch will follow the theme set by the Aesthetics A and Concept A Sedan shown earlier this year.

It’s clear the prototype has similar headlamps to the Concept A, while the grille also closely mimics that of the concept. Whereas the concept had AMG GT-style vertical slats in the grille, however, the unit on the test car has a similar look to the current ‘diamond grille’.

The overall profile of the car is similar to that of the current car, but expect to see fewer sharp-edged design details – Gorden Wagener, chief design officer for Daimler AG, used the launch of the Concept A Sedan to decree death to creases.

Down back, the latest spy shots paint a clearer picture of how the tail-lights on the new A-Class will look. They follow the same basic theme as the headlights, with detailing similar to that on the C-Class and E-Class wagons.

The new A-Class is expected to grow marginally larger than the current car on the outside, but a longer wheelbase should free up more space for rear-seat passengers. A wider tailgate opening, something facilitated by split brake lights, is also expected to feature in the quest for better practicality.

When it arrives, the car will likely be built on a new version of the current MFA platform. The MFA2 architecture will eventually form the base for the B-Class, CLA and GLA. Along with the usual selection of three- and four-cylinder engines, the platform is expected to support hybrid, even all-electric powertrains.

Behind the wheel, previous spy shots have shown a stylish centre stack, with round air vents and a scaled-down version of the dual-screen infotainment setup from the E- and S-Class as the headline features.

At the top of the range, a warmed-over AMG A40 – conceived in a similar vein to the AMG 43 line – will likely be introduced under the flagship AMG A45.

Stay tuned for the latest on the upcoming A-Class, and check out the photos tab for more images.