THE UNRELENTING tide of fresh product from the Three Pointed Star brand continues unabated, with the first spy pictures of the next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class emerging this month.
Spotted wearing heavy camo while testing in its native Germany, the fourth iteration of Daimler’s answer to the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, and Lexus CT retains the proportions of the current hatchback, but with some important improvements designed to extend the appeal of an already wildly popular premium small car.
While not diverging far from established styling themes, a close inspection of the A177-series prototype reveals a noticeably longer wheelbase and rear doors, presumably in aid of addressing the meagre back-seat legroom and luggage capacity afflicting today’s A176 five-door.
Next on the docket would be a palpably higher-quality interior brandishing better trim and materials, finally banishing today’s pretty but squeaky dashboard to the dustbin. It appears that the stand-alone central screen will be better integrated into the console next time around as well.
Never a laggard on the engineering front, the A-Class is nevertheless expected to usher in a heavily modified version of the current MFA modular front-drive architecture, meaning a return of MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear. Reports suggest that it will include a boost in rigidity and fall in weight, to help achieve improved handling and ride attributes, as well as important gains in efficiency.
Downsized turbo engines with dual-clutch transmissions are also believed to be in the pipeline, though whether they relegate the 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol units servicing today’s versions to history is not yet known. You can also bet on seeing a return of the ultra-successful AMG 4Matic high-performance all-wheel drive flagship variants, as Mercedes attempts to one-up the equivalent Audi RS3 and BMW M2 alternatives in the never-ending German power contest.
Do not count on seeing the next-generation A-Class in Australia before 2018, as the facelifted version of the Mk3 only went on sale at the beginning of this year. Prices, of course, will not stray too far from today’s models, which kick off from around $38,000 to nearly $80,000.
The hatch will be followed soon after by the second-generation Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan and GLA crossover, as well as the Mk3 version of the B-Class. The latter is also likely to spawn a small SUV offshoot provisionally dubbed the GLB. All will use the next A-Class’ MFA Version 2.0 platform.
As we said, it’s all systems go at Mercedes-Benz…
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