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Mercedes To Build 8 New FWD Models Because It Wants Poor Customers

Interview / 31 Comments

Expect everything from AMG-tuned four-door coupes to a baby G-Wagon.

Think of the staple design and engineering elements that makes a German car so enticing over Japanese and American equivalents. First there's the build quality that typically outclasses the best that the US can muster. Then, unlike Japan, Germany likes to build cars that handle well and invite the driver to explore the vehicle's nature, hinting that the engineers thought about more than just how to make a well-made and economical transportation device.

Rear-wheel drive has something to do with that handling advantage, but as Car and Driver has just learned, Mercedes is about to sacrifice this expensive drive orientation by expanding its low-end offerings to include eight front-wheel drive variants. Currently, the US market only sees three front-driven Mercs, the CLA, GLA, and electric B-Class. Foreign markets see the CLA Shooting Brake and the A-Class hatchback which, along with the three that make it to America, share the same front-wheel drive MFA (Modular Front-wheel drive Architecture) platform. As we know from a previous report indicating that most of the Tri-Star lineup will soon be revamped, the MFA platform will give way to MFA2 within a generation.

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During an interview with Mercedes-Benz brand chief Ola Källenius, C&D heard about the eight upcoming MFA2-based models, but could not extrapolate what those would be. Based on its best speculation, the automotive news outlet predicts that these will be a new A-Class hatchback along with a new sedan variant, both of which could be sold in the USA. The sedan would be followed by a long-wheelbase variant, aimed straight at the Chinese market, while a B-Class fitted with a high roof profile will serve as the efficient people carrier of the family.

After this, a new CLA four-door coupe will come to replace the current car we get in the US while its Shooting Brake offshoot will appeal to wagon-loving Europeans. The GLA would get the same revamp while a rugged GLB SUV will be targeted at Americans that like to go off-roading using bodywork reminiscent of the Energ-G-Force concept seen at the 2012 LA Auto Show. Unfortunately, the GLB will keep its styling noise down to a minimum, significantly downplaying the lines of the attention-grabbing concept. Making matters worse is that all other MFA2 derivatives will follow the same philosophy, a loss for anyone expecting the gorgeous A-Class Concept we spotted in Shanghai.

Not all of the news is bad though because whatever talking the styling doesn't do will be shouted by beefy boosted AMG engines to help a younger audience have a gateway drug into the world of Mercedes, a "keep us in mind when you get rich" sort of deal. No timeline has been announced, but given Mercedes' tendency to rapidly fire out new cars left and right, don't expect to wait around too long.