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Geneva show: Benz reveals stylish new A-class

Modern family: New A-class gets the latest Mercedes design treatment, making it look more like a modern small car than the previous model.

More conventional Mercedes-Benz A-class revealed ahead of Geneva show debut

6 Mar 2012

THERE were no major surprises when Mercedes-Benz issued full details and photos of its all-new A-class ahead of its public debut at the Geneva motor show later this week, just a widespread admiration for the new style of the German brand’s smallest model.

Due in Australia in the first quarter of 2013, the third-generation A-class will mark the return of the model to Australia as it was discontinued in June 2010 after a sustained period of declining sales for the high-riding second-generation model.

Now more conventionally styled – in the modern small-car vein of vehicles such as the BMW 1 Series, Mazda3 and even the Hyundai i30 – the new A-class is some 18cm (more than seven inches) lower than before.

Mercedes-Benz Australia promises sharp pricing for the new car, pointing out a quote from Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche ahead of the Geneva show that “A is for Attack”.

“This is absolutely a conquest car,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia senior manager corporate communications David McCarthy.

“We expect that half of the buyers of this vehicle will be new to the brand, so look out.

4 center image “This is a very competitive market segment, but we are very keen to do volume with this car, so pricing will be very competitive.” BMW 1 Series five-door hatch pricing starts at $36,900 plus on-road costs (116i manual) while the Audi A3 Sportback starts at $40,500 (1.6 TDI auto).

The Mercedes B-class – an all-new model of which will be launched here next month, built on the same platform and still with upright styling – is presently priced from $37,900, and the A-class is likely to be priced at least a couple of thousand dollars under its larger sibling.

Mercedes-Benz will launch the A-class next year with a pair of petrol-engined models (the 90kW A180 and the 115kW A200), a diesel (probably the 80kW A180 CDI) and new headline act, the ‘engineered by AMG’ A250 Sport.

AMG – Mercedes’ performance division – was involved for the first time from the early stages of model development and, as a result, the A250 Sport rides on 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels and features a distinctive new diamond grille design based on an A-class concept car shown almost a year ago at the Shanghai auto show.

The A250 Sport is powered by a 155kW direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and provides Benz with its first direct rival to the iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI (which also just happens to produce 155kW).

Further down the track – perhaps at the Paris motor show in late September, with sales commencing in 2013 – expect a full-on AMG model developing more than 200kW and driving all four wheels.

The high-glass black wheels on the A250 Sport have a five-spoke design, are fitted with 235/40 high-performance tyres, cover red-painted brake callipers and are connected to an AMG-developed suspension and front axle.

Sport models – including a turbo-diesel A220 CDI Sport in Europe – are also distinguished by red bands front and rear, with further red accents inside the mainly black cabin, including the seatbelts, steering wheel and seats.

One innovative feature that will carry into production from the Shanghai show car is a smartphone integration – initially only for iPhones but extending in time to other brands – that allows full functionality through the car’s central display screen.

Mercedes will fit its radar-based collision avoidance system as standard in all A-class models. This system warns the driver by visual and audible alerts, and also prepares the Brake Assist function, if it detects an impending collision.

Another safety system – Pre-Safe, which prepares the car for an accident and premiered on the S-class in 2002 – will be available for the first time in the A-class with the new model.

Mercedes-Benz head of design Gorden Wagener said he had stayed as close as possible to the Shanghai concept because it had been so well received.

“Applying the new dynamic style of Mercedes-Benz to the compact class was a challenge that we thoroughly enjoyed,” he said.

“No other car in this segment is as progressive as the A-Class. The almost sculptural lines are very typical for Mercedes and the feature lines, particularly along the sides of the car, then give the A-Class structure and tautness.

Prof Wagener said the new dynamic style also applies to the interior, which features a new “silver chrome” metallic-touch surface and air vents designed to stand out “like sparkling jewels”.

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