The next A-Class will be crease­less

Ig­nore the China-friendly notch­back de­sign... this is your pre­view of an en­tire small Merc fam­ily

Top Gear (UK) - - THE TEN -

Doesn’t Mercedes ever take a day of? This is the Mercedes Con­cept A. Re­vealed at the Shanghai show, it previews Merc’s “next gen­er­a­tion of com­pact ve­hi­cles”, which means that with sub­tly difer­ent roof, ride height and boot treat­ments, this is more or less what the next CLA, CLA Shoot­ing Brake, GLA, B-Class and A-Class will look like when they’re launched in a cou­ple of years’ time. Al­though this ac­tu­ally previews an ad­di­tional mem­ber of the small car fam­ily – the A-Class sa­loon. Think CLA, but more up­right, more spa­cious, more... sen­si­ble. A tra­di­tional three-box sedan. Think­ing it’s a niche too far? You’re not alone.

It’s the lat­est im­ple­men­ta­tion of Mercedes’ Sen­sual Pu­rity de­sign lan­guage. Ex­actly what that means we’re not sure, but if you like your cars sen­sual and pure and with­out a crease in sight... you’re in luck. Merc chief de­sign ofcer Wa­gener says: “Our Con­cept A Sedan shows that the time of creases is over. With its per­fect pro­por­tions and a sen­sual treat­ment of sur­faces with re­duced lines, the Con­cept A has the po­ten­tial to in­tro­duce a new de­sign era.” Blimey.

The show car is 4,570mm long, 1,870mm wide and 1,462mm tall, mak­ing it shorter, wider and taller than the ex­ist­ing CLA. The wheels are 20s (which “ra­di­ate tech­ni­cal pre­ci­sion”, ap­par­ently) and there’s the Panamer­ica grille as fea­tured on the AMG GT R su­per­car. It’s all very high-end stuf for what (Smart ForTwo not with­stand­ing) will be the en­try point for Mercedes own­er­ship, but then con­cept cars are born to push the bound­aries. Ex­pect full-fat AMG ver­sions to closely re­sem­ble this, and lesser vari­ants to make do with smaller wheels and a more mod­est grille.

Merc hasn’t given us any tech­ni­cal de­tails – as it’s a con­cept, it may not even have an en­gine – but it does make a pretty big deal of the head­lights and tail-lights, which fea­ture a spe­cial UV coat­ing on their com­plex in­ter­nal struc­ture. So, de­pend­ing on which lights you have on at the time, they glow in an ar­ray of difer­ent colours. This won’t fur­ther the hu­man race, but it does look cool.

Merc is plan­ning to re­place all its cur­rent small car fam­ily, and add two new body styles to the line-up by 2020. This is one; the other is any­one’s guess. But why such an em­pha­sis on small? Be­cause it has sold more than two mil­lion com­pact cars since 2012, con­tribut­ing to six years of growth on the bounce. It’s all

about keep­ing that ball rolling.

Glow in the dark head­lights. Hmmm, choco­late teapot springs to mind...

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