In the past premium brand hatchbacks have never been well received here in the United States. Hot hatches as a rule generally come in one of two varieties; either the fuel efficient cutesy kind, or the high horsepower fun to drive kind. Take for instance the 1995 BMW 318ti, a car that was basically a BMW 318 with the trunk cut off. BMW marketed this as their entry level sports coupe, but since the little 318ti was neither powerful or fun to drive, sales languished and consumers stopped walking into BMW showrooms. Then there is the case of the 2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor hatchback. As with the BMW, this baby Benz was an attempt to bring younger thirty-somethings into the showroom in the hopes that after owning a C230, that they would graduate up to an E-class or something better. Now while it was a valiant attempt, the American public simply didn’t want to be seen in an entry level premium car when they could, for the same money, get more value for their dollar by going with either an American or Japanese alternative.
What you are viewing here is the Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class, a highly stylized hatchback that is poised to change the way people view entry level premium cars. The Concept A-Class was penned by the same gentleman that designed the beautiful Mercedes-Benz SLS Gullwing, a car that has garnered accolades from around the world. Powered by a direct-injected 210 hp turbocharged four-cylinder, and utilizing front wheel drive, the concept A-class seeks to deliver moderate performance, big interior style and premium brand quality in a compact package that, for the first time, looks worthy of the Mercedes-Benz nameplate. I recently sat in on an episode of Fast Lane Daily with Alex Roy, J.F. Musial and Leo Parente to discuss this new Mercedes concept. We all agree that the styling is there, but the biggest factor in the end will be price point. Click play on the video and let us know what you think.