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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - A-class

Geneva show: New Mercedes A-class interior revealed

In sync: The advanced cabin technology in the new A-class has led Mercedes to claim it "puts the iPhone on wheels".

Mercedes-Benz to debut a raft of new connectivity tech in forthcoming A-class

Mercedes-Benz logo24 Feb 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

MERCEDES-BENZ has released the first interior shots of its new A-class hatchback ahead its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month and re-introduction to Australian showrooms in early 2013.

The cabin takes on a similar appearance to the all-new B-class – set to launch in Australia in April – featuring a ‘busy’ centre fascia, three prominent circular air-vents and a dashtop-mounted screen.

The images come three weeks after a cyclist took video footage of what appeared to be a completely undisguised A-class undergoing a photo shoot in the Canary Islands.

Mercedes’ born-again A-class will lose the tall-boy styling of the previous two generations, instead adopting a more sporting and muscular stance – a la the BMW 1 Series – with the aim of bringing a younger audience to the brand.

To this end, Mercedes has fitted the A-class cabin with a standard innovative infotainment system that completely integrates an Apple iPhone to give “the Facebook generation its natural home on four wheels”.

Plugging your iPhone into the connector cable in the A-class will do more than just charge the battery and sync music.

4 center imageLeft: A-class interior shot. Below: The concept from the 2011 Shanghai show.

The new in-car system features an app, developed in-house, that allows all key content from the phone to be accessed via the large screen mounted atop the instrument fascia, and operated from a control dial on the centre armrest.

Daimler’s Digital DriveStyle app can be downloaded for free from iTunes and allows access to social networks, internet radio, navigation software with real-time traffic updates and a ‘car finder’ that can display the car’s location on your smartphone, should you forget where you parked it.

Furthermore, this set-up is synced with the advanced Siri voice recognition system found on the latest-generation iPhone, meaning occupants will be able to send messages, select music, check the weather or make appointments without the need for specific, pre-programmed commands as required on other similar systems.

While this system is making its debut in the A-class, Mercedes says it will become available in the B-class, C-class and E-class ranges from around September this year.

The brand has not yet confirmed if it will eventually make the new system compatible with other smartphone operating systems, such as Android.

Mercedes-Benz Cars Australia dropped the current A-class from local showrooms two years ago when it decided to put all its focus behind the conceptually similar (albeit slightly larger) B-class – a move that pushed that car to number one in its segment.

The German marque first flagged its intentions for a sleeker and sportier A-class when it revealed a three-door concept at the Shanghai motor show in April last year, although the car seen in the spy pictures was a five-door version.

The large five-spoke alloy wheels, dropped suspension and silver-mesh grille on the car caught in the spy shots also lends credence to the rumours that AMG is developing a flagship performance version – reportedly fitted with all-wheel drive - to tackle the Audi S3 and BMW 1M.

We will bring you more details on the new-generation A-class when it emerges either at – or slightly ahead of – the Geneva motor show on March 6.

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