Mercedes-Benz will launch a subcompact car range with the help of partner Renault-Nissan, according to German magazine AutoBild. The subcompact car range, to be known as X-class models, carries tag prices of below EUR20,000, targeting rivals like the Mini brand and the Audi A1, the magazine reported.
The subcompact models are expected to fill the gap between the Smart brand and the Mercedes A- and B-class compacts. AutoBild said that the pioneering model would be an SUV-styled crossover that would target the upcoming Audi Q2.
The pioneering model would be based on the Renault Captur subcompact crossover and could be rolled out in 2018. It would be followed by a spacious subcompact minivan that would be a smaller version of the Mercedes B class. The subcompact minivan would be based on the next-generation Renault Clio subcompact hatchback. Both models will be powered by three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel powertrains.
The magazine said that with five years to develop the subcompact models, Mercedes will look forward to design a completely new vehicle and will not simply overhaul one of Renault-Nissan's current vehicles. Mercedes currently markets the Citan car-derived van that is based on the Renault Kangoo. According to Auto Bild, the German carmaker had initially mulled shrinking and de-contenting the A class to build the crossover, but decided against it due to the high costs involved.
Mercedes also considered the next-generation rear-engine Smart as a base for the vehicle, but its platform was not flexible enough. The report remarked that low pricing of the X-class vehicles implies that they will be front-wheel drive, adding that the carmaker targets to sell between 100,000 and 150,000 units of each model annually around the world. Mercedes' parent, Daimler, called the report speculation. Daimler and Renault-Nissan have been looking for further venues to expand the partnership they disclosed in 2010 to pool development and production of small cars and engines.