The current Mercedes-Benz B-Class has enjoyed reasonable success in most of the markets it has been launched in, selling over 120,000 units in its first year alone, but the next-generation model due in 2011 is expected to sell in even higher volumes and will be sold in the U.S. for the first time.

To increase sales, there are rumors that Mercedes-Benz is planning to expand the range by adding new variants in addition to the regular hatch: a new coupe-cabrio, a sporty hatchback to rival BMW's 1-series range and possible a four-door sedan with coupe styling.

The only model confirmed for production, however, is the hatchback previously seen testing in prototype format the Nurburgring in Germany. Expect to see a range of small displacement turbocharged engines and new hybrid variants offered in the B-Class family, as well as a hydrogen fuel cell model.

The new 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class will be the sportiest yet as a high-performance AMG variant has also been confirmed by the tuning arm's fomer boss Volker Mornhinweg. AMG currently offers V-8 engines exclusively but for the B-Class a new specially tuned four-cylinder engine will be developed. The model will compete with other hot-fours such as the Volkswagen Golf R32 and Audi S3. Expect to see a range of performance upgrades as well, including new brakes, a sporty bodykit and upmarket interior.

Mercedes-Benz previously reversed a decision to bring the current B-Class Stateside because of fears it would damage the luxury brand’s exclusivity and the low dollar exchange rate would make it too expensive. However, unexpectedly strong sales of the Smart Fortwo minicar are prompting renewed interest in selling the B-Class, and even the next-generation A-Class, in North America.