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Zetsche tests next-gen Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Say cheese: The next A-class has been captured by Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche and posted to his LinkedIn profile.

Daimler boss takes selfie with all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch


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18 May 2017

DAIMLER AG chairman Dieter Zetsche has given the world an early look at the next-generation A-Class by publishing a selfie in front of a heavily camouflaged version of the compact hatchback following a recent test drive.

Dr Zetsche posted the images and a blog entry on professional networking site LinkedIn, discussing the test drive of the forthcoming A-Class as well as some other Mercedes-Benz products, and comparing the excitement of driving a camouflaged car to opening a gift at Christmas.

In the post he describes the fourth-gen A-Class as “special,” adding that it is “a symbol for the rejuvenation of our entire brand that began with the launch of the current A-Class back in 2012”.

One of the other models reportedly tested by Dr Zetsche at the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit was the next-generation CLS four-door coupe.

While the vehicles in the images feature heavy camouflage, it is clear that the A-Class will carry a similar shape and glasshouse to the successful third-gen car, but the hatch’s rear end is more prominent than before.

The exterior mirrors are more rounded and there are new wheel designs, but any changes to the front end are impossible to detect thanks to a metal mesh cover protecting its face.

The Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan from this year’s Shanghai motor show could provide the best look at the new A-Class yet. It features a prominent grille flanked by sharper and more angular headlights with a massive lower air intake.

The key difference will be the grille, which on the concept is an AMG number.

Dr Zetsche confirmed that the new model would be offered with more advanced assistance systems “to pave the way for autonomous driving,” and reiterated the company’s plan to offer eight compact models spun off its new-gen MFA2 (Modular Front-drive Architecture) platform.

Those models include the A-Class hatch, new A-Class sedan, B-Class tall-boy hatch, CLA sedan, CLA Shooting Brake and the GLA crossover.

The remaining two body styles are rumoured to include a small two-door coupe and a convertible, while some reports have suggested another small SUV will be part of the mix.

The camouflage will come off the A-Class next year, possibly at a motor show like Geneva, while an Australian showroom debut will likely be early 2019.

Expect a suite of updated four-cylinder powertrains matched with dual-clutch transmissions, with the fire-breathing A45 AMG hatch set to return.

Dr Zetsche detailed the success of the A-Class, stating that more than half of all buyers of compact Mercedes models are new to the brand, while globally, the car-maker has sold more than two million A-Classes.

The A-Class has been a hit in Australia since its February 2013 launch. It captured 3218 sales that year – just 30 units behind its B-Class stablemate that was the top seller in the over $40,000 small-car segment – before hitting a high of 4676 units in 2014, enough to top the segment.

In 2015 it slipped to 3629 and was overtaken by Audi’s popular A3, which has both a hatch and sedan body style, before lifting its sales by 19.5 per cent last year following a mid-life refresh.

So far this year A-Class sales have dipped by 7.7 per cent compared with the first four months of 2016, but it still leads the segment with 1568 sales, ahead of the A3 (1452) and the BMW 1 Series (716).

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