Arriving on the tail of countless teasers, spy photos and leaked images, the unveiling this week of the new A-Class offers few surprises - but it is likely to offer a strong counter-argument for buyers considering its Audi A3 and 1 Series rivals.
Replacing the comparatively staid second-generation A-Class, Merc's new small hatch brings a sharp new look that borrows from the big CLS four-door coupe, along with its own Concept A-Class progenitor.
Built on the brand's versatile new MFA front-wheel-drive platform, the new A-Class will initially launch in five-door form only, with a three-door bodystyle expected to join the range in the coming year.
Engine options in the five-door range will include a pair of direct-injected and turbocharged 1.6 and 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engines, along with a pair of 1.8 and 2.2 litre turbodiesel engines.
On the petrol front, the line-up kicks off with the 90kW A 180 and the 115kW A 200, topping out at the A 250, delivering a Golf GTI-rivalling 155kW.
Until the highly-anticipated AMG variant comes along, the A 250 will be the flagship in the A-Class range.
In diesel form, the new A-Class will include the 80kW/250Nm A 180 CDI, the 100kW/300Nm A 200 CDI, and the top-shelf A 220 CDI with its 125kW/350Nm 2.2 litre engine.
All six engines are paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, along with the fuel-saving ECO stop/start system. Merc's seven-speed DCT dual-clutch auto is available as an option.
The suspension package includes MacPherson struts up front with an AMG-developed front axle, along with a four-link rear axle.
Various suspension settings can be optioned, including optional sports suspension with Direct-Steer.
Along with the standard models, three trim lines will be offered: Urban, Style, and the top-shelf AMG Sport packages.
These won't offer any additional power, but rather varying levels of equipment and, in the case of the AMG Sport, enhanced styling and handling.
Inside, the new A-Class offer a new level of mobile technology integration for the Mercedes brand, including advanced iPhone connectivity through its new "Digital DriveStyle" app and the optional "Drive Kit Plus for the Apple iPhone" package.
Driver-aid and safety features include Attention Assist, Brake Hold, Hill-Start Assist, Distronic Plus, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Blind Spot and Lane Keeping Assist, Active Parking Assist, Linguatronic and Reversing Camera.
Speaking with TMR today, Mercedes-Benz Australia's David McCarthy confirmed that the new A-Class will arrive in the first quarter of 2013.
"We'd have it sooner, but availability of right-hand-drive models in the specifications we want is keeping it out of Australia until then," Mr McCarthy said.
Mr McCarthy said that a number of the petrol and diesel options have been confirmed for Australia, but the A 250 is not yet a lock - although "looking likely" he said.
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