Mercedes has released that it plans to launch eight cars off the new-generation A-Class. CEO Dieter Zetsche has noted that none of them will be smaller than the A. There will be no Mini rival from Stuttgart.
So what should we expect? Well, the new A-Class itself, recently revealed and soon to be on sale. Then, says Zetsche, “we will further expand the SUVs. We need something more SUV than the GLA.” He’s talking about a boxy vehicle that Mercedes has been seen testing in disguise. It has the outline of a mini G-Wagen. It will, sources say, be called GLB and will have three rows of seats.
“The new BMW X2 is basically like the [current] GLA,” Zetsche observes wryly. “And you will see a new GLA. As in other segments we’ll have two interpretations. So the GLA will be more in the SUV direction, and that will expand our scope. It gives us the possibility of doing something between the A-Class and the GLA.” So, three crossovers: GLA Coupe, GLA and GLB.
“There will be a three-box [saloon], mostly for the USA and Asia,” he says. That’s been previewed by the Concept A Sedan at the Shanghai show last year. We have been told that there will also be a LWB version of that same sedan especially for China.
Don’t confuse the A saloon with the CLA (that one has done well for Mercedes in the US and will be replaced). But a new CLA Shooting Brake isn’t likely. The CLS Shooting Brake has also died, remember.
So: a hatch, three four-doors, three SUVs. And finally, a replacement for the B-Class MPV. Right there is the eight cars you should expect to see in the future.
Mercedes is also going to offer more powertrains. These include both petrol and diesel – Zetsche has made some very bold claims for the cleanliness of the new diesels – and of course a scorching AMG version. There’s also going to be a plug-in hybrid, sources say, which is why there’s a compact new torsion-beam suspension for the A-Class, to make space for the battery. For the launch, it’s fitted to a few low-powered petrol and diesel versions, while higher performance and AWD cars get multi-link.
When talking about the A-Class, Zetsche also stated, “It has made the Mercedes brand younger and cooler. And it has sold 25 per cent more than the equivalent BMW and Audi, and made a significant contribution [to profits].”
The original A-Class sold decently, but was mostly bought by older people. “It was a burden on the brand.” With the current one, “average age of buyers went down by ten years. That’s huge. And a high proportion are women.” He adds that most buyers were conquested from other brands, and yet then they have stayed with Mercedes, a high proportion then trading up into other even more profitable Mercedes’ such as a C-Class or GLC.