This isn’t the first time Mercedes has rolled out a front-drive design, but for the first time it’s creating a flood of transverse-engined cars that won’t be limited to Europe, but are intended to conquer the whole world. And this, the concept version of the forthcoming Mercedes A Class, previews one of the most important bodystyles of Benz’s front-drive offensive, the “family hatch.” But as important as this funky Audi A3-fighting hatch is to the global fight for front-drive luxury acceptance, it does not appear to be headed stateside.
Thanks to Mercedes’ exquisite sensitivity to “American tastes” (pronounced with a slight shudder in the original German), we’ll only be getting sedan, “sporty coupe” and (sigh) crossover versions of this platform. Two liter engines (think 150-200 HP), and dual clutch transmissions should motivate US versions when they launch next year, and eventually a turbocharged 320 HP AWD “STI by AMG” version should become available. Just try to stop using the phrase “wrong wheel drive” in front of the local Mercedes dealer.