The CLA-Class’ days as the entry-level model in Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. lineup might be numbered. A new report coming out of the nation’s Motor City claims that the next generation of the A-Class will be sold on our shores for the first time in the nameplate’s long history before the decade draws to a close.
Widely popular in Europe, the A has been around in various forms since 1998 but it has never been offered in the U.S. because of its relatively small dimensions. However, the market for compact cars is slowly but surely growing, and insiders told The Detroit Bureau that the next-gen model will consequently be developed with U.S. regulations in mind.
The third-generation A that’s currently sold in Europe (pictured above) is a hugely important car because it has allowed the Stuttgart-based car maker to reach out to a much younger audience, including a high percentage of first-time Mercedes buyers. Executives hope that introducing the A in the U.S. will have the same effect on both sales and demographics.
Details are few and far between because the fourth-gen A is still at the embryonic stage of development. However, it is expected to ride on a brand new platform that it will again share with the B-, the CLA- and the GLA-Class, and it will be roughly the same size as the current model, which stretches 142 inches — 40 inches less than a CLA — from bumper to bumper.
Mechanically, the next A-Class will use four-cylinder gasoline- and diesel-burning engines that will be either pulled from the Mercedes parts bin or borrowed from industrial partner Renault-Nissan. Front-wheel drive will come standard, and all-wheel drive will be available at an extra cost on select models. However, what engine and transmission options the U.S.-spec version will launch with is anyone’s guess at this point.
What’s nearly certain is that the range-topping Mercedes-AMG A 45 will boast a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that will make at least 400 horsepower, 20 more than today’s model. Also found under the hood of the CLA 45 and the GLA 45, the turbo four will put power to the pavement via an automatic transmission and a sport-tuned all-wheel drive system.
The U.S.-spec A-Class will allegedly be assembled in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in a brand new factory that Mercedes parent company Daimler is currently building as part of a joint venture with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Scheduled to open its doors in 2017, the plant will have an annual capacity of about 300,000 cars.
Mercedes has not commented on the report. If it turns out to be true, the fourth-generation A-Class will be presented to the public at a major auto show in 2018, and it will go on sale shortly after as a 2019 model.