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Benz’s compact family to grow

A plus: The A-Class is the first model to be built using Benz’s new architecture, but there is a lot more to come.

Mercedes to refresh compact line-up which will include an all-new compact SUV

Mercedes-Benz logo30 Apr 2018

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in CROATIA

MERCEDES-BENZ is embarking on a small-car onslaught over the next two years, with most models based on the MFA ‘2’ architecture that will underpin at least two all-new model lines, including the long-rumoured GLB crossover and A-Class Sedan, as well as established models such as the GLA and CLA.

First cab off the rank in Benz’s plan to roll out eight derivatives from the platform is the fourth-generation A-Class five-door hatchback that is due in Australia in August and features a longer wheelbase, bigger body, fresh powertrains and a completely redesigned interior.

Initially to arrive as the A200, it will be joined in December by the A180 and A250 with 4Matic all-wheel drive, while the AMG A35 4Matic and A45 4Matic flagship are waiting in the wings for a launch in quarter one and quarter two next year, respectively.

The upcoming A-Class will be followed by the third iteration of its B-Class sibling early next year, after its global unveiling at this September’s Paris motor show.

Likely dubbed the W247-series, it will brandish some of the comfort, refinement and technological advances of its smaller hatchback sibling, in a slightly less boxy package than the existing model.

However, we hear that this is a reskin of the existing model released in 2011 sitting on the older MFA platform, rather than a ground-up redesign as per the A-Class.

This two-tiered hatch approach will be mirrored by a pair of upcoming MFA 2 sedans, in the form of the practicality-focused all-new A-Class Sedan and the swoopy coupe-like return of the big-selling CLA.

Revealed in long-wheelbase ‘L’ guise at last week’s Beijing motor show, the former is set for a global unveiling late this year for a March 2019 Australian release while the latter – in both sedan and Shooting Brake wagon guises – won’t be seen on our roads until sometime in 2020.

That’s when the all-important compact SUVs arrive, but this time the next-generation GLA crossover will shadow its latest A-Class cousin by expanding interior space, cargo capacity and refinement to better take on the Audi Q2 and BMW X2.

More importantly for Mercedes-Benz, the closely-related GLB will be a more utilitarian baby SUV, perhaps with more rugged lines and a bit more ground clearance for a point of difference. It will be directly targeting the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, appealing to smaller families needing that little bit more interior space than what the GLA offers.

Why so far away still? One Mercedes-Benz spokesman said that the GLA was only facelifted last year, so still has a couple of years left to run.

Finally, speculation also suggests that an MFA 2-derived sports coupe or even convertible might also be in the wings for early in the next decade, to take on Audi’s iconic TT. Not much is known about this car, other than it may wear the long-mooted SLA badge. With an AMG 35 4Matic and AMG 45 4Matic badges, it could give the TT RS a real run for its money.

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