According to Automobile News, Mercedes-Benz will be bringing four compact cars to the US. One of them will be based on the A-Class coupe prototype shown recently at the New York Auto Show. In my opinion, the A-Class coupe looks like a Mercedes-Benz C-Class from the front, a SAAB 9x from the side, and a Volkswagen from the rear. Despite the homogenous exterior, I think I like it. Once produced, the A-Class will have a 210 hp turbo four cylinder coupled to a FWD platform as opposed to the typical RWD or 4MATIC cars in the current US lineup (H/T True Car). This could be interesting.
The thinking is that Mercedes-Benz’s absence in the compact market will allow competitors to take away market share. At least that’s what Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is thinking.
“If we leave that segment for our competitors, they become stronger and they branch out and give us resistance in those segments. … There is clearly an opportunity if we do everything right.”
The first step would be to drop the price to an affordable position. Volvo has faced this difficulty with this with the C30 two-door hatch. The car is safe and fun to drive, but most Volvo drivers in the US aren’t looking for a premium level compact even when entry level models start in the mid-$20’s. So, the big question is whether Mercedes-Benz will be able to price the A-Class low enough to draw in new customers and keep their quality at its normal level. Time will tell.