New York 2011: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Small Car Platform

With the unveiling of the 2011 Concept A-Class, Mercedes-Benz is introducing a new front-wheel drive platform to underpin its lineup of small cars. The platform -- named the Mercedes Front Architecture -- will be the basis for four new models from the German automaker.

The models will begin with the next-generation A-Class that will begin European-market production at the end of this year. Following the A-Class will be a small crossover, four-door coupe, and potentially a roadster.

The MFA cars will be powered by only four-cylinder engines; the Concept A-Class uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 to turn the front wheels. It is unlikely that a V-6 powerplant will find its way into the MFA because of weight issues and chassis balance; however, an AMG version has not been ruled out. Manual and automatic transmissions will both be offered, including an all-new, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Although not currently planned, the MFA could eventually include an all-wheel drive system.

The MFA has the potential for a sandwiched “double-floor,” similar to that of the original A-Class from the late-1990s. The potential allowed by the sandwiched floor is such that anything can be stored from electric batteries, to a range extender, to tanks of hydrogen.

The Concept A-Class also previews the aesthetic of both future Mercedes models and all of the cars to come from the MFA platform.

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