It has been revealed that Mercedes-Benz is going to be producing a car that will compete with the Audi A1 and Mini. At the moment it seems to be known as the X-class and is a 4m long crossover which is developed with Renault-Nissan ready to be launched in 2018.
This will fill the very empty gap in the market for a £12,000-£19,000 vehicle for Mercedes as they have nothing between a Smart car and A-class. It will be a mix of the X-class with the superminis produced by Renault and Nissan.
With five years to go before it is due to be launched Mercedes will have a lot of time to work on the look of the car, making sure that it looks stylish and contains all of the necessary elements for this market. Sources at Benz have said that the exterior, gadgets and cabin must all be bespoke.
There are two models of car planned. There will be a small crossover and a space concept which will be a B-class MPV but very much smaller. The crossover will be paired up with the Renault Captur which is going on sale this year as a rival to the Juke.
The X-class will start at £13,640 for an A1 in the UK with the base price possibly meaning that there will be no independent rear suspension, although up to eight air bags will be installed and it is possible that an affordable driver assistance system may be able to be installed.
The engines for the two models will be turbocharges and direct injection diesel and petrol engines. They will be offered in 1.5 litre four cylinder as well as 1.0 litre three cylinder. It is felt that the Germans are ready to buy Renault-Nissan engine blocks and then adding on exhaust and intake manifolds as well as cylinder heads of their own. It is possible that they may also get together with Renault-Nissan to produce more cost effective electric battery technology and dual clutch gearboxes.
The body is flexible which means that parts can be added in to improve safety, rigidity and refinement. There may be leather seats, Comand navigation systems and LED headlights among the possible options available for buyers.
There have been predictions already made for sales figure by Mercedes with between 100,000 to 150,000 for each style of car expected. The cars will be sold in Europe, China and North America.
It was initially felt that cutting down the A-class would be the best approach, but the cost of this proved to be too high. The next generation Smart was not flexible enough it its design. It is likely that the Formore SUV will stop production once a more profitable Mercedes crossover can be made.