By Colin Bird on Wed Apr 06 19:09:31 GMT-06:00 2011
Mounting pressure from governments and consumers alike for more fuel-efficient options has luxury automakers scrambling to deliver. While BMW has shown its cards — announcing an entirely new electric brand and an electric BMW 1 Series — we haven’t seen any big shifts at Mercedes besides its new four-cylinder engine. The A-Class concept might be the first rumbling that Mercedes is ready to offer something smaller than the C-Class in the U.S.
The A-Class concept is a small two-door luxury hatchback. The concept features Mercedes' new design cues that we’ve seen on the F800 concept and the CLS Shooting Brake concept. Prominent features include full LED headlamps, which include 90 optical fibers for daytime running lamps that form a wing shape within the lamps. The grille has numerous metallic silver hexagons against a black material surrounding Mercedes’ three-pointed star. The look is supposed to convey a “star-filled sky” — trippy. Overall, the design, with its extensive side sculpting and chamfered edges, comes off looking sharp, which is sometimes hard to accomplish with a small car.
Under the hood, the A-Class is equipped with a new 210-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The hatchback is front-wheel drive; currently, Mercedes is rear-wheel- or all-wheel drive only in the U.S.
Safety features include Mercedes’ radar-based pre-collision warning system and adaptive brake assist. Mercedes says it will be the first to offer such features in a compact car of any kind.
Globally, the A-Class isn’t new to Mercedes. The model has been sold in other parts of the world, particularly Europe, since the late 1990s, but its tall, utilitarian looks have kept the vehicle from being offered in the U.S., where Mercedes is considered a luxury carmaker first and only.
The new, elegant design language, high-tech features and consumer pressures probably mean Mercedes is thinking about bringing this here. The car will be officially unveiled at the 2011 New York International Auto Show later this month.
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