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A family of eight compact models will help Mercedes reel in first-time buyers

2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA
Mercedes-Benz is investing in its lineup of popular compact models in its bid to continue setting sales records around the globe.

“We have big plans for compact cars. We’ll be expanding our quintet to a family of eight models,” Marco Ebler, the product manager for Mercedes’ compact models, revealed during a media event in Hungary.

Currently, Mercedes’ small car cluster includes the A-Class, the B-Class, the CLA (pictured), the CLA Shooting Brake, and the GLA. Some of those names might not sound familiar because only the CLA, the GLA, and a very small number of B-Classes are sold in the United States.

Ebler stopped short of revealing which body styles or nameplates will join the five existing cars. However, he told us Mercedes will preview one of the newcomers with a close-to-production concept that’s scheduled to make its debut in about two weeks during this year’s edition of the Shanghai Auto Show. British magazine Autocar believes it will be a four-door sedan variant of the A-Class hatchback positioned a notch below the CLA, and aimed directly at the Audi A3 Sedan.

Insiders have indicated the second model will be a crossover named GLB whose design will borrow styling cues from the venerable G-Class. The third could take the form of a coupe positioned as a rival for the Audi TT, though nothing is official at this point.

A vast majority of Mercedes’ compact models will spawn a high-performance variant tuned by AMG. However, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine found under the hood of the CLA 45 and the GLA 45 will not live on beyond the current models’ life cycle.

“The engine is maxed out. First, we thought it had reached its peak when it made 355 horsepower, but we found that we could get more power so we bumped the output up to 381 for the face-lift. That’s as high as it can go,” Steffen Jastrow, AMG’s head of development for compact cars, told Digital Trends.

His comments confirm the AMG-branded versions of Mercedes’ next compacts will receive a brand new engine. Replacing the most powerful series-produced four-cylinder in the world is no easy task, but AMG is stepping up to the challenge.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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