Right now there aren’t too many subcompacts on the U.S. new car market, but that will change in the next few years.
As fuel-economy standards ratchet up, so will the number of small, fuel-efficient small U.S.-bound cars. BMW has the new front-wheel drive 1 Series, Audi has the A1, and MINI is rumored to have a next-gen model in the works.
Mercedes, however, doesn’t have much to compete – and it’s eager to change that.
Car Online is reporting that Mercedes is in talks with its latest partner, Renault-Nissan, with whom it has plans to share diesel and fuel-cell technologies, to build a shared-platform subcompact.
Don’t fret, Mercedes fans; the German automaker wouldn’t simply slap a Mercedes badge onto a Nissan micro-car. Instead, Mercedes would be instrumental in the vehicle development from day one, ensuring Mercedes quality from the outset.
Tentative called the X-Class, the new subcompact Mercedes crossover would be powered at first by two tiny motors: a 1.0-liter and a 1.5-liter. Mercedes would license the gasoline engine block designs from Nissan but add its own cylinder heads and direct-injection fuel management systems. A dual-clutch transmission would likely be shared across the Mercedes/Renault-Nissan variants.
On the interior, the Mercedes level of bespoke would be found, despite the anticipated sticker price of around $20,000. Leather options and Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system would both be available.
While nothing has been made official in terms of the X-Class’ drivetrain options, we wouldn’t be surprised if Mercedes didn’t make an EV version to compete with the BMW i3 slated for showrooms later this year.
If the sounds of a $20,000 subcompact Mercedes crossover excite you, don’t hold your breath. Although it will be headed Stateside, it won’t however go on sale until late 2017 for the 2018 model year.
As soon as we know more, which, in all honesty, we suspect won’t be very soon, we’ll bring you all the pertinent information.