The latest Concept A-Class from Mercedes-Benz is the clearest indication yet as to what the automaker’s next-generation A-Class will look like, and the good news is that the production version of this one is likely to hit U.S. shores.
Revealed today at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, and again soon at the 2011 New York Auto Show in just a few days, the Concept A-Class precedes the production version expected to go on sale in Europe towards the end of next year. Importantly, the concept’s unveiling in New York hints strongly at a possible local launch.
As can clearly be seen, designers have ditched the current model’s tallish van-like shape and gone with a more traditional, albeit highly stylized, hatchback design.
Special features of the Concept A-Class include a radar-based collision warning system with visual and acoustic notification for the driver, adaptive brakes, LED headlights, fiber-optic daytime running lights and an integrated smartphone that can be controlled by the car’s COMAND rotary knob located on the dash.
Under the hood sits a 'BlueEfficiency' turbocharged four-cylinder engine displacing just 2.0-liters but developing a healthy 210 horsepower thanks to the forced induction technology as well as direct injection. The BlueEfficiency tag indicates that this powerplant is one of the greenest in Mercedes’ engine lineup. However, also helping to save fuel and sending drive to the front wheels is a lightweight and compact dual clutch transmission.
Another big departure for the new A-Class model is the introduction of several variants in addition to the previewed hatchback. Instead of having separate A- and B-Class models, Mercedes-Benz is thought to be releasing a family of entry-level models including a familiar minivan model, coupe-like sedan, compact SUV and possibly even a sporty roadster. Hybrid and all-electric versions are also expected to get the tick of approval.
The cars will be built on a new front-wheel drive platform codenamed MFA (Mercedes Frontwheel Architecture), which drops the former sandwich construction for a more conventional car-like design. The main reason Mercedes-Benz is increasing the number of fuel-efficient compact models it sells is not only to help its bottom line but also to reduce its fleet-average emissions.
Look forward to live shots of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class direct from the 2011 New York Auto Show floor in just a couple of days.