Here'south why the U. S. is getting the Mercedes A-Class after twenty years

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Source:   —  June 19, 2017, at 4:54 PM

Until now. Automotive News reports that Mercedes will introduce the upcoming A-Class sedan in the U. S., positioned below the CLA-Class sedan in the automaker's most affordable side of the lineup.

Here'south why the U. S. is getting the Mercedes A-Class after twenty years

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been different things at different times during its relatively brief lifespan -- the nameplate is twenty years old -- and for all twenty of those years Mercedes has declined to proposal it in America. Until now. Automotive News reports that Mercedes will introduce the upcoming A-Class sedan in the U. S., positioned below the CLA-Class sedan in the automaker&#thirty-nine;s most affordable side of the lineup.

But how did the upcoming A-Class modify Mercedes&#thirty-nine; mind after all these years?

The original W168-generation A-Class debuted in one thousand nine hundred ninety-seventh as a tiny and very tall upright hatch looking love a large four-door Smart. The innovative engineering allowed for a very brief nose and overhangs while maximizing interior space -- it was a car designed for European cities where space is at a premium. The first-generation A-Class sold well despite an early stumble: Mercedes had to recall all debut models after several weeks of sales to revise their suspension and fit them with stability control systems after journalists in Sweden rolled one car in an elk avoidance test.

But the original A-Class won a following thanks to a versatile interior and thrifty engines, even inspiring contest in the form of the Audi A2, Renault Megane and Volkswagen Touran, among others. And love a no of other Mercedes models, the A-Class was never offered in the States as it was deemed to occupy a section that simply didn't exist and wasn't in demand; the U. S. market was preoccupied with SUVs of ever-increasing size at the time. (Sound familiar?)

The second-generation A-Class debuted in two thousand-fourth and mostly kept the pocket-size MPV profile of the original, pulling the tiny Mercedes in a more hatch-like direction. A two-door model was offered for the first time to compete with other tall hatches love the Volkswagen Golf Plus and a no of tiny French hatches and MPVs that'd arrive to regulation the segment. Mercedes has softened up the suspension of this second-generation model, once again offering a range of thrifty four-cylinder engines, starting with the 2.0-liter diesel A160CDI and the 1.5-liter gasoline A150, and topping out with the 2.0-liter gasoline A200 Turbo. This segment didn't invite any followers in the U. S. at the time, despite a fairly significant hike in gas prices around two thousand five through two thousand seven, and absent demand for this model Mercedes chose not to proposal it in the States.

The A-Class became a traditional-looking hatchback only in its third generation, which debuted in two thousand-twelfth. This time around, Mercedes used the A-Class platform to expand the CLA-Class four-door sedan for the U. S. market and the GLA-Class pocket SUV, both of which were offered in AMG flavors. The GLA45 AMG, in particular, was effectively the closest vehicle to the European-market A-Class given its hot-hatch handling and lower ride height, compared to the standard GLA two hundred fifty model. Collectively, the CLA- and the GLA-Class models demonstrated the U. S. market's desire for tiny Mercedes cars, which had earlier been kept out due to a perceived threat of brand dilution due to price and interior quality, with the W203-generation C230 Sportcoupe reinforcing this trust for a no of years.

Even though the third-generation A-Class hatch became a true VW Golf alternative, Mercedes didn't deem it prudent to proposal a hatch in the States alongside the sedan, still believing the U. S. market could only absorb a four-door sedan even if the rest of the world wanted a tiny Mercedes hatch for its practicality. The CLA-Class sedan, meanwhile, offered a cramped interior and a tiny trunk that gave the U. S. a tiny sedan with the three-pointed star, but gave buyers none of the versatility of the hatch. The CLA sedan initially enjoyed powerful sales due to its novelty and $29.000 starting price, but toward the finish of its product cycle the novelty began to wear a bit as Mercedes introduced a tiny GLA two hundred fifty SUV for about the same price.

With the imminent debut of the A-Class sedan following the lineup's redesign in the U. S. following year, Mercedes is still hedging its offerings, pointing to the W203-generation C230 Sportcoupe as proof of Americans' aversion to luxury hatchbacks. We expect brand positioning still plays a role in decisions love these, with the upcoming A-Class sedan viewed as an entry-level luxury model rather than a bare-bones sedan positioned below the CLA-Class. The timing of the decision is curious, however -- the market is once again heading for large SUVs as it did in the mid-1990s.

The disagreement this time around may be the fact that the CLA- and GLA-Class cars actually proved to Stuttgart through sales figures alone that it's worth fielding tiny cars, as long as they don't attempt to get the VW Golf head-on. The GLA forty-five AMG can still spray gravel in the Golf's face from a much higher price point, but neither it nor the A-Class hatchback will win over budget hatch buyers, particularly at the cost of brand perception for the company. This is why a sedan still makes sense to Mercedes, knowing that it's best to not compete with much cheaper hatchbacks.

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