Finally, Mercedes is going to have a proper crack at the Mini. And the Concept A, which will be revealed at the Shanghai show – opening on 19 April – is how. It could hardly be more different from today’s super-utility but decidedly unglamorous A-class.
Check out the pictures here: a low-silhouette body design, a new four-cylinder turbo engine, a twin-clutch autobox and 210bhp. The range will, of course, include lower outputs, including a 1.6 diesel, which is a Renault unit.
Inside you’ve got four individual seats and an aluminium centre rail going the length of the cabin. The designers obviously wished they worked at Boeing: the vents are ‘reminiscent of jet engines’, the red instruments are ‘inspired by afterburners’, the whole dash ‘has the shape of an aircraft wing’ and the gear selector ‘takes the form of a reverse-thrust lever’.
What is interesting is the engineering: the concept debuts a rather versatile front-drive architecture. It’ll supply the low-slung car that’s represented by this concept, and also fire three-door, five-door and roadster variants.
And it will also come in double-floor versions with a laid-flat engine designed to slide between the floors in the event of a crash. This means the micro-MPV buyers who loved the rather tall and roomy old double-floor A and B (and they did, there just weren’t enough of them) will still be served.
The new double-floor version will also allow the mandatory fuel-cell and electric and plug-in hybrid versions, and the electrical gubbins, batteries and hydrogen tanks will fit between the floors.
We’ll have more info in the next issue of Top Gear Magazine – out April 20 – but for now, your thoughts TopGear.commers?