GENEVA, Switzerland - It's been long time coming but Mercedes-Benz' highly anticipated A-Class has at last been unmasked at the Geneva auto show with much of the radical design first seen on concept in 2009.
The new mini-Mercs are 4.2m long, 2m wide and the height drops by 16.2cm to 1.4m compared to their predecessors and will be powered by two petrol engines (1.6 and two-litre) and turbodiesel with two trim levels (Urban and Sport).
The petrol versions include the flagship 155kW A250, 115kW A200 and 90kW A180. The turbodiesels have been packed into the 125kW/350Nm A220 CDI, 100kW/300Nm A200 CDI and 80kW/250Nm A180 CDI. The buyer has the choicof either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
All-wheel instead of just front whee drive could appear soon (a definite for the AMG version) while Mercedes' engineers put considerable effort into the chassis and new four-link rear suspension. The A250 and A220 CDI Sport models benefit from having an AMG-developed front axle and sportier suspension.
Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz, said: "A is for Attack: the A-Class is a clear statement of the new dynamism of the Mercedes-Benz brand. It is completely new, down to the last detail. In automotive development, it's not often you get the chance to start with a clean sheet of paper.
"Our engineers and designers have made the very most of the opportunity."
The outstanding styling, at least compared to its tame predecessor, makes the new A-Class easily one of the most attractive premium hatchbacks available.
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For the first time, AMG was involved in the development of Mercedes' compact vehicles and the result is the A-Class Sport with its glossy black 18" AMG alloy rims and 235/40 tyres. More AMG-inspired design cues are evident in the red front and rear aprons and grille design. The red/black theme continues on the steering wheel and seats and the instrumentation is highlighted in red.
Ola Källenius, chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, said: "AMG was involved in the development of the A-Class right from the start. That is something very new in the compact segment. You can see evidence of this in the A-Class sports models, which bear the quality seal 'engineered by AMG'. And they live up to that promise, not only with their exceptional looks but also with their exceptional driving dynamics."