German carmaker Mercedes-Benz, arguably the world's most sought after brand, is currently conducting research in the United States to finalise designs for a new range of entry-level models.
Reports suggest the German giant is currently considering three new entry-level variants: a crossover, sporty coupe and sedan. Much like BMWs recent announcement of front-wheel drive models, its arch-rival will be building the models on the redesigned B-class platform (front-wheel drive).
All three potential models will be positioned below the C class with the first of the variants expected to debut next year.
“The first clinics have been done in the U.S. market,” Bernhard Glaser, general manager of product development at Mercedes-Benz USA told AutoNews. “We are still at a very early stage. The design freeze has not taken place.”
Current focus groups in the United States are being shown full-sized clay models for feedback. Mercedes-Benz's reputation differs around the world with U.S. dealers unanimously agreeing they don't watch a hatchback as it does not fit Mercedes’ luxury image.
“They were concerned about the previous generation because it did stand out, and that is kind of a whole different brand sell that you have to try and jump over,” said Mercedes- Benz U.S. spokesman Geoff Day. “This will be seamless.”
Mercedes-Benz needs to build more small and fuel efficient vehicles to meet new U.S. fuel regulations. It's likely that entry-level models will make their way to Australia after their U.S. launch.