Roadster derived from A-Class considered by Mercedes-Benz

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

Mercedes-Benz may be building a new diminutive roadster based on the SLA concept from 2000. The popularity of premium-priced diminutives and the Smart car has encouraged Mercedes-Benz to contemplate on introducing the next generation of A- and B-class versions in North America.

The small-car couple receives a remodeling for the 2012 model year with a fresh front-wheel-drive platform that comes with either a 4-cylinder gasoline or diesel powertain. Information has reached AutoWeek that Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche is contemplating a proposal for a two-passenger roadster patterned on the A- and B-segment.

The compact roadster equipped with front-wheel-drive brings back the idea at the back of the outstanding Vision SLA concept unveiled in 2000 at the Detroit auto show.

The decision of Mercedes-Benz to visit the SLA again comes as Volkswagen plans to unveil a fresh mid-engine roadster concept in January at the auto show in Detroit, and is in keeping with the news that BMW is going forward with plans for a 1-series-based Z2 roadster placed under the Z4.

As of yet, no production plans have been authorized for a roadster, and it is still uncertain if the vehicle would be part of the North American Mercedes-Benz portfolio. However, with sales dropping by 38.2 percent in North America in November compared to a year earlier, officials sense the time is ripe for a version with the likes of the SLA to join Mercedes-Benz's increasing stable of diminutives, positioned under the SLK.

"It is part of the regular new-model review at Mercedes-Benz to look at ideas from the past," AutoWeek was told by a senior Mercedes-Benz official. "When the SLA was originally proposed at the end of the last decade, we didn't have a suitable platform; the sandwich platform is too high and too heavy. This problem will be alleviated with the arrival of the next A-class, whose new platform provides much greater scope in terms of the sort of variants it can support."

Besides the roadster, there will be about two more versions of the A- and B-class redesign, together with the replacements for the current hatch and wagon versions. They consist of a coupe and a sport-utility vehicle, both of which are anticipated to be part of the lineup of Mercedes-Benz U.S. that will attempt to attract younger buyers.

The reengineered A-class and B-class might be part of the lineup of Mercedes-Benz U.S. Measuring 153.6 inches in length, the current A-class contends with cars such as the European Volkswagen Golf. It is offered with a selection of seven 4-cylinder powertrains, going from a 95-hp 1.5-liter unit to a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit.

The B-class employs an identical chassis as the A-class but sits atop a wheelbase that is 0.84-inch longer and has a total length of 170.8 inches, 20 inches shorter in contrast to the C-class. Mercedes-Benz is investing quite a sum in the fresh A-class.

It is expending 600 million Euros, or $762 million at the present exchange rates, to overhaul the current production facilities in Rastatt, Germany, and, furthermore, has likewise pronounced that it will build a $1 billion manufacturing plant in Hungary. An estimated production of 500,000 vehicles will be expected from these two plants.

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