Crossover

Benz X-Class Subcompact for 2018

The German automaker is plotting a baby crossover that will take aim at the Mini, BMW 1 Series and Audi A1.

Currently code named the “X-Class,” Mercedes-Benz is planning to build a supermini-sized crossover that will be developed with new partners Renault-Nissan in time for a 2018 launch. That’s according to Car Magazine, which claims the Silver Star is keen to fill the gap between the Smart and A-Class. The subcompact hatch would be 4 meters long and share its platform with the next generation of Renault and Nissan superminis, but would come with a typically high-end exterior, refined leather interior and plenty of gadgets.

Two models are in the offing. A compact crossover will be paired with the next-gen Renault Captur and resemble the upcoming A Class SUV, and an MPV-style wagon currently coined a “space concept.”Engines will be new Renault-Nissan direct-injection and turbocharged gasoline and diesel units available as 1.0-liter three-cylinder and 1.5-liter four-pots, but with Mercedes own cylinder heads, intake and exhaust manifolds. The automakers will likely join forces to design a dual-clutch transmission, and an all-electric variant is also an option. Mercedes aims to prices the X-Class in the $20,000 bracket. So an independent rear suspension will have to give way for a cheaper torsion beam.

However, a flexible body architecture means plug-in reinforcements to improve crash safety and chassis dynamics can be used, while LED headlights and a Comand navigation system will be optional extras. The aim is to shift 150,000 units per year for each body style, concentrating on markets in China, North America, and Europe. And with the CLA four-door coupe set to enter showrooms this year, if a new entry-level FWD Benz is popular stateside, Mercedes will consider the subcompact X-Class a viable option.

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