The Geneva Motor Show's second worst kept secret after the Volvo V40, the all-new 2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback, was finally revealed today.
The new A-Class represents both a radical and a conservative departure from the two previous generations of Mercedes-Benz's compact model series.
To explain, conservative, in the sense that it abandons the tall sandwich platform and mini-MPV-like body of the outgoing model for a more traditional hatchback shape, but also a radical departure because of the far more sportier and sexier design inside and out.
Previewed by last year's concept model of the same name, the new five-door A-Class is based on Mercedes' new MFA (modular front architecture) platform. It measures 4,292mm long, 1,780mm wide and 1,433mm tall, which makes it 32mm shorter but 15mm wider and 12mm taller than its main rival, the BMW 1-Series hatchback.
From launch, Mercedes-Benz will offer a broad range of gasoline and diesel engines. The petrol lineup includes three four-cylinder options: the A180 with a 1.6-liter turbocharged unit producing 121hp (122PS), the A200 that uses a 154hp (156PS) version of the 1.6-liter unit and the A250 powered by a 2.0-liter turbo delivering 208hp (211PS)
On the diesel front, we find the A180 CDI with a 1.8-liter engine churning out 108hp (109PS) and 250Nm (184 lb-ft), the A200 CDI with the same unit rated at 134hp (136PS) and 300Nm (221 lb-ft), and the A220 CDI with a 2.2-liter turbocharged four delivering 168hp (170PS) and 350Nm (258 lb-ft).
All engines in the new A-Class come equipped with the ECO start/stop function as standard and can be combined either with a new six-speed manual gearbox or an optional 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The German company is also planning to introduce a flagship AMG model that will use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine possibly delivering well over 300-horses.
Other highlights include the introduction of a raft of assistance systems such as the Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, an in-house developed app that allows users to integrate their Apple iPhone into the car's infotainment system, and an AMG Sport package with styling as well as chassis upgrades.
The new five-door Mercedes-Benz A-Class will reach European dealership in September. There are no current plans to offer the hatchback model in the States.