Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan - Mercedes' design strategy evolves in Shanghai

Sporty compact saloon points the way to future A-class and CLA models

If you're wondering what the next generation of Mercedes-Benz road cars will look like, this concept launched at the 2017 Shanghai motor show is a pretty good indication.

Called the Concept A Sedan, it follows on from the recent Aesthetics A sculpture to give an even clearer look at the way the Stuttgart brand's products will evolve. As the name suggests, it's roughly the size of the existing A-class - or perhaps more accurately the CLA, though Mercedes says the car could be a 'new body type' entirely.

That suggests that the CLA may become even more coupe-like in future, with a product inspired by the Concept A offering a more traditional saloon car option in the A-class segment, competing with cars such as the Audi A3 saloon.

> Mercedes-Benz signals new design direction - 'The days of creases are over'

Concept A stretches 4570mm in length, 1870mm in width and stands 1462mm tall, making it 60mm shorter, 93mm wider and 25mm taller than the CLA, indicating slightly more conventional proportions. Mercedes still insists the Concept A is 'coupe-like', though it's also clear this is more of a traditional three-box saloon than the CLA, albeit one with a compact footprint and short overhangs.

As a signal for the direction of the next A-class and features relatively cab-forward proportions, we'd expect a front-wheel drive setup. The concept sits on 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/40 ZR20 Continental tyres.

Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG, says that 'the time of creases is over', and the concept has much cleaner lines than the A-class and CLA as a result.

The front features clear inspiration from recent Mercedes performance cars like the AMG GT, while the rear is much cleaner than the existing road cars - and less droopy than the CLA, thanks largely to lines that now stretch from the front of the car to the back, rather than diving towards the rear wheelarch. It's glassier too, which should result in a slightly less gloomy cabin.

> Mercedes-Benz CLA review - Does sporty saloon's drive match its looks?

Headlights, taillights, wheels and mirrors aside, it doesn't look a million miles from production - and it's an encouraging sign as to the direction of Mercedes' future road cars.

It'll certainly be an important product for Mercedes; the existing Mercedes compact vehicle line, including the A-class, B-class, CLA saloon and Shooting Brake and the GLA crossover, has contributed more than two million units to its maker's sales since 2012. With markets such as China becoming ever more important to global automakers - and saloons selling particularly well - that number is sure to rise over the coming years.

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