Prestige buyers will get their first look at the next generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class at the Shanghai Auto Show thanks to the Concept A Sedan, which not only details the face of the new A-Class but also a potential new variant.
The Concept A Sedan adheres to the rules of Mercedes’ latest Sensual Purity design language, banishing creases from the concept’s exterior surfaces and creating more athletic proportions through taut wheel arch volumes and a flowing lower sill surface.
The production A-Class range won’t arrive in European showrooms until late 2018, following locally by early 2019. Once again a five-door hatch will be a mainstay of the range, with the new sedan variant arriving to challenge the Audi A3 sedan and new BMW 1 Series sedan, which is currently restricted to Chinese sales only but is expected to expand into a global model in its next generation.
In its current form the Concept A Sedan previews the styling direction of a future AMG-tuned model, with an output of about 300kW expected from the Mercedes-AMG A45 in its 2019 state of tune - enough to take the fight directly to the Audi RS3 sedan.
AMG’s vertically-slatted Panamericana grille and deep front intakes, along with bonnet’s twin power-domed surfacing all point towards the Concept A Sedan hiding the AMG flagship’s powertrain.
Along with the fire-breathing 2.0-litre version, a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines are expected to make up the A-Class range, as well as a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid version of the new sedan that will offer a pure electric range of up to 50km.
Front-wheel drive will underpin most variants of the A-Class sedan, as well as a multi-plate clutch 4Matic four-wheel drive system, available as an option overseas and paired with high-output engines for Australia in a move mirroring that of the A3 sedan.
The new A-class sedan will be offered as part of a refreshed compact line-up including next-generation versions of the A-Class hatch, B-Class mini MPV, CLA four-door coupe, CLA Shooting Brake and a two-pronged crossover range comprising a style-focussed GLA and a more practical new small SUV to take the GLB name.
A previously unseen eighth model will also join the Mercedes-Benz compact range, and while details remain scarce right now, rumours from Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany suggest that a Range Rover Evoque-rivalling two-door SUV could be the next product in the range.
Development of an A-Class sedan comes in response to demand for a more practical alternative to the CLA four-door coupe - currently the brand’s cheapest sedan, but with a form-over-function approach that sees rear seat space suffer in the wake of swoopy styling.
Compared with the current A-Class and CLA the Concept A Sedan greatly reduces the extended front overhang of those models, bringing the new A-class into line with Mercedes’ other models, not only that, but hardpoint changes compared to the CLA result in a wider and more practical boot aperture.
At 4570mm in length, 1870mm in width and 1462mm in height, the Concept A is claimed to mirror the dimensions of the production A-Class sedan that is planned to be assembled alongside the A-Class hatchback, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA at Mercedes-Benz's Kecskemet plant in Hungary.
This makes it some 112mm longer, 74mm wider and 46mm higher than the Audi A3 sedan. At the same time, it is 116mm shorter, 60mm wider and 20mm higher than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, making for an interesting size comparison between the new small model and the existing medium offering - particularly given the potential for interior space efficiency from the front-driven model.