We've been telling you for some time that the new 2012 Mercedes A-class would be more of a Golf rival than a tallboy mini-MPV on stilts. Now we've got the proof: new spy photos scooping the new A-class in the metal.
This spy shot confirms the new W176 family A-class will be repositioned as a much more conventional hatchback to compete with the likes of the Audi A3, VW Golf and BMW 1-series.
Mercedes A-class (2012): why no tallboy?
Merc isn't abandoning its high-riding, MPV-inspired C-segment car. Instead, it's splitting the market down the middle.
The new B-class, dubbed W246 and arriving first in autumn 2011, will remain a pumped-up, monobox design aimed at families and those wanting outright space and convenience.
But the A-class - scooped here - will revert to a more traditional hatchback template. It's based on a new front-drive architecture, called MFA (for Mercedes Front-wheel drive Architecture).
What will the new A-class look like under that disguise?
We've published artist's impressions of the new A-class alongside the spy shots above. Our information is that the new 2012 A will look very similar to the Concept A-class shown at the 2011 Shanghai and New York auto shows. Click on our related articles to the left to see our original story on the concept.
The new A- and B-class families have suffered a long gestation. Stuttgart at first considered spinning a third generation from the original sandwich platform, then it looked at hooking up with BMW/Mini, Peugeot-Citroen, Hyundai/Kia and even Opel. But it has gone it alone, and will extract further volumes by spinning off more bodystyles including a coupe and a baby SUV.
What else do we know about the new A-class?
The new A-class is around 4280mm long and just 1430mm tall - proof that it has shrunk from its tallboy roots. Its 350-litre boot is bang on the class average.
A range of turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engines will be offered, stretching from 1.6-litre petrols to 2.2-litre diesels.