Entry-level Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon on the cards

Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon as imagined by Autocar

Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon as imagined by Autocar

Audi A3 saloon-rivalling four door to form part of next generation of compact car models from the German car maker

Mercedes-Benz plans to extend its compact car line-up with a new entry-level saloon positioned between the upcoming second-generation CLA and facelifted fourth-generation C-Class.

Set to complement its existing range of compact car models in a renewed sales push against premium brand competitors, the new four-door will slot into the Mercedes line-up as a rival to the likes of the Audi A3 saloon and recently unveiled BMW 1 Series saloon.

The entry-level saloon, to be powered by an extended range of four-cylinder petrol, diesel and hybrid drivetrains, has been conceived primarily to bolster Mercedes’ sales in key markets such as China and North America. However, supplier sources close to the German car maker have confirmed plans for right-hand drive production, indicating the new model will also be sold in the UK.

No official confirmation of the new Mercedes saloon model has been made by Stuttgart officials at this stage. However, Autocar has been told it could arrive in showrooms before the end of 2018 – the same year earmarked for the introduction of the fourth-generation A-Class hatchback.   

Set to support both standard front- and optional four-wheel drive, the Mercedes saloon is among six models planned to be based on Mercedes’ second-generation MFA platform, including successor models to the A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, and GLA.

The dimensions of the new A-Class saloon are shrouded in secrecy, but it is expected to stretch beyond the 4630mm length, 1780mm width and 1430mm height of the existing first-generation CLA.

By comparison, rivals such as the A3 saloon measure 4450mm in length, 1795mm in width and 1415mm in height, while the 1 Series saloon runs to 4456mm in length, 1803mm in width and 1446mm in height.

Information obtained by Autocar also confirms the A-Class saloon has been conceived to support two different wheelbases. A standard wheelbase version is expected to be sold in all markets except for China, which will receive its own long-wheelbase variant in line with other recent Mercedes saloon models, including the C- and E-Class.

Power for the new car is planned to come from the company’s latest M264 turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol and OM654 turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engines, both of which will support new fuel-saving features, including the coast function already seen in more upmarket models from the German car maker.  

Also planned are less powerful models running updated versions of the Renault/Nissan units used in Mercedes’ existing compact car lineup. They include a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol and turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel.

Topping the line-up will be a new four-wheel-drive A45 4Matic saloon model running an updated version of today’s M133 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder AMG developed engine with up to 400bhp.

Also planned is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain combining the M264 petrol unit with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack for limited zero emission capability.

Among the gearboxes will be a standard six-speed manual and optional nine-speed dual clutch automatic – the latter a development of today’s seven-speed unit to be produced in-house at Mercedes-Benz’s gearbox manufacturing facility near Stuttgart in Germany.  

Benefitting from a transverse engine layout, the new saloon is described as being particularly roomy, with passenger and luggage space almost on par with the larger C-Class.

Autocar can also confirm the second-generation MFA platform has been designed to support a new electrical architecture. It provides the basis for a new Comand 6.0 infotainment system with both touchscreen and gesture controls.

While details remain scarce, production of the A-Class saloon is expected to take place in up to three factories, including Mercedes-Benz’s Kecskemet plant in Hungary, as a joint-venture plant operated by Mercedes’ parent company Daimler and Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation in Beijing, China as well as a new facility being constructed by Daimler and its alliance partner Nissan/Infiniti in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

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Source: Car

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