Something appears to have riled Dr Dieter Zetsche. The normally calm, affable and highly intelligent CEO of Mercedes-Benz has come out on the offensive with a declaration of war, in the shape of the new Mercedes A-Class.
"A is for attack", Dr Zetsche tells us. That's right, meet the new baby Mercedes, revealed today at the Geneva motor show. And my, isn't it a handsome little tyke?
Staying close to the stunning design of the Concept A-Class seen at the Shanghai motor show last year, the new car apparently sits 18cm closer to the ground than its dowdy predecessor. That bold face and sweeping lines lend it a very aggressive, coupe-ish feel, and Merc has promised us a "high-quality" interior to match.
There's more good news too, because Mercedes tells us the hoonigans at AMG were involved in the A-Class's design from the very start; a design that Dr Zetsche says "is completely new, down to the last detail. In automotive development", he adds, "it's not often you get the chance to start with a clean sheet of paper".
Underneath those svelte lines sits a new four-link rear axle - which Merc reckons would allow the fitment of all-wheel-drive - together with electro-mechanical steering and a choice of suspension settings including the optional sports setup. As expected from a Merc, there's lots of nannying, such as attention assist, hill-start assist, brake hold, blind spot assist and even a reversing camera.
The new A-Class will get two petrol engines - a 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre - producing 115bhp, 156bhp and 211bhp, the latter badged as A 250. The 1.6-litre four-pot will also debut Merc's new ‘Camtronic' system, which adjusts the valve lift on the intake side to restrict the amount of fresh mixture used under partial load. Because you're not James May and you might not get it, think of it in simple terms: lower fuel consumption.
The diesel engines come in the shape of the A 180 producing 109bhp, the A 200 with 136bhp and the 2.2-litre A 220 with 170bhp and 258lb ft of torque. All engines come with start/stop as standard, and you can opt for a six-speed manual or Merc's 7G-DCT dual-clutch auto.
More details on UK pricing and trim levels to follow closer to its launch date, but here's one more thing to nibble on. At Shanghai last year, Top Gear found out Mercedes is planning a smoking hot 350bhp AMG A-Class, which kind of puts its reference to four-wheel-drive into perspective, no?
Have a click through the pics and tell us below what you think of the new baby Benz.