Mercedes-Benz is looking to get the input of US consumers as it reviews design options for a new series of entry-level models. There are three variants being considered: a crossover, sporty coupe and sedan. Based on the redesigned, front-drive B-class platform, these models would be positioned under the C class and would go on sale after 2011.
Bernhard Glaser, general manager of product development at Mercedes-Benz USA, said that the first clinics have been done for the US market. But he said that the company is still "at a very early stage" and that the design freeze has yet to take place.
In an interview at a Mercedes event, Glaser said that the full-sized clay models have been shown to focus groups. US dealers have said that aren't inclined to get a hatchback. They've described the B class sold in Europe and Canada to be a boxy five-door hatchback that doesn't match Mercedes' luxury image.
Mercedes- Benz US spokesman Geoff Day said that there was concern about the previous generation because it had stood out and is an entirely different brand that one has to jump over. He expressed confidence though that this will be a "seamless" transition.
The proposed models are described to have a "cutting-edge look," according to Tommy Baker, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz dealer council and a Charleston, S.C. dealer. [via autonews - sub. required]