That original affordable Benz, the A-Class, is now more ‘a conquest car’ than ever.
According to Mercedes-Benz’s Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, David McCarthy, the main problem for Benz will not be its heady competition in the segment, but how much of this appealing pointy-priced product they can actually get.
The same is expected when the A 180, A 200, A 200CDI and A 250 Sport models arrive next March.
While McCarthy would not be drawn on actual figures, he conceded demand for the hatch will likely outweigh supply by “about 30 percent”.
“I think the segment will expand, and we want our share of it - and we have a compelling product,” McCarthy said.
“An A-Class at under $35,600 - and it’s not a stripper, it’s loaded with kit – will see the game change a bit. We are known for brand values of prestige, luxury, safety and styling, and, over the past six years or so, value.
He added that punters have "made a big deal" about the A-Class taking on the Golf in price, "particularly as 50 percent of Golfs sold are over $35,000".
A45 AMG confirmed For Australia
Confirmed for Australia and in decent numbers, the A 45 AMG model will top the range with a more worked version of the A 250 Sport’s 2.0-litre turbo.
This should see around 250kW and at least 400Nm put to the ground via all four paws.
“It will be cheaper than the 1 Series ,” McCarthy promises, “and it will lure some people from the likes of the Evo; you get a Mercedes interior, exterior, loads of features, and in a car that is faster to 100km/h than a C 63.”
This makes it a sub-five second car, and under $76,000.
GLA SUV And CLA Coupe
“We are definitely getting the GLA late next year,” he stated.
“And the CLA is beautiful; I’ve seen it in the flesh and it’s gorgeous. Beautiful proportions, and it will be very affordable, at a sub-$50K price.
“There are another two cars still to come from that platform,” he hinted further.
Renault Alliance: Mercedes-Benz Citan
Benz will also be entering another VW-heavy segment with its first foray into small vans.
“We will get the Citan in short and long-wheelbased models, with a petrol and diesel… like the Caddy,” McCarthy said.
“It’s the start of a lot of cooperation between Daimler and Renault/Nissan.”
“Those types of cooperations only work when there is product you can leverage off. Passenger cars is where it is going to happen,” he said.
And the rumoured SLA ‘TT-rival’?
McCarthy would not be drawn on the recurring idea that is the SLA: a short-wheelbased front-drive convertible to rival the likes of the Audi TT, shown as a concept in Detroit back in 2000.
He said that nothing like the SLA would be appearing “in 2013," but admitted that the idea of this type of vehicle “would be interesting”.
“Yes, there’s a strong business case for (the E300),” he confirmed.
“It won’t be $20K more than the E250, but the price premium will be for equipment as well as the hybrid technology.
“It’s pretty hard to make a strong business case for the Hybrid when the standard car is so economical – in some cases only a litre-per-kilometre.
“The gap is narrowing rapidly between the petrol engine and the hybrid. But yes, we will get the car,” McCarthy said.
“It’s going to be a very interesting year for Mercedes-Benz.”