2014 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
By Paul A. Eisenstein
On Sale: Late 2013
Expected Pricing: Mid to high $20,000s
A new Mercedes-Benz A-Class compact car is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in late 2013.
Gone are the days when luxury cars were measured by the pound and foot. Even upscale motorists are downsizing, these days, and much of the world has discovered that good things can, indeed, come in small packages. That message is beginning to connect with U.S. buyers, as well, as high-line makers roll out products like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
Until now, Mercedes-Benz has been reluctant to bring over the smallest model in its line-up, and perhaps for good reason. The original A-Class was an awkward design with a high-standing platform original conceived to allow for a hydrogen fuel cell or some other advanced powertrain to be mounted below the floor. But Mercedes is returning to a more conventional design with the launch of the next-generation A-Class.
Conventional in its basic layout, that is, though the clear intent was to come up with a new look that was as bold as the original A-Class was ungainly.
The design unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show may actually provoke a subtle sense of deja vu, the production model clearly influenced by the striking silver show car that was first revealed at the New York International Auto Show last April. That concept was the first clear confirmation that Mercedes planned to bring the next A-Class to our side of the Atlantic.
While some of the more exotic features from last year's prototype, such as daytime running lamps consisting of 90 optical fibers surrounded by metal sleeves, weren't carried over, the new Mercedes A-Class lifts the 2011 show car's distinctive grille, meant to give the appearance of a bright, nighttime sky.
The new A-Class is both lower and a bit longer than the original model. The body style unveiled in Geneva is a European-style wagon, and we'll eventually get the two-box design here in the U.S., according to Mercedes officials, but the goal is to come up with an expansive family of luxury minicars. And among other things, both a sedan and a sporty hatchback are reportedly under development. U.S. dealers will almost certainly get one of those body styles first.
The new A-Class is targeting Gen-X and younger Millennial buyers who are looking to enter the luxury market for the first time. No surprise, then, that Mercedes is putting a premium on technology, from advanced safety systems like Collision Prevention Assist to in-car infotainment. The new A-Class will be one of the first in the Teutonic maker's line-up to adopt the Siri voice-activated control system first seen on the Apple iPhone. In fact, that wagon's entire infotainment system was designed around the popular Apple smartphone by a team of high-tech engineers based at a Mercedes facility in California's Silicon Valley.
As for powertrains? The maker has several inline-4 engines set for use in Europe including a direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-liter package in the A250 making 211 horsepower, but it has yet to confirm the American options. On the gearbox side, expect the 6-speed manual and possibly the European 7-speed Dual-Clutch.
Current plans call for the A-Class to finally reach U.S. shores in late 2013 or very early 2014, wearing a 2014 model-year badge.