Mercedes is preparing to roll out fwd compacts
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Are Americans ready to pay hefty prices for small, front-wheel-drive cars with features usually reserved for large German luxury cars? Mercedes-Benz is about to find out.
Starting in the fall of next year, Mercedes will bring three, possibly four new compacts based on a new fwd platform to the United States. They are the next generation of the A- and B-class cars that U.S. executives previously rejected because of their hatchback design and uninspired styling.
The rollout will start in the fall of 2013 with the sleek CLA sedan that looks like a baby CLS -- the four-door with coupe styling that the competition has copied. It will be followed by the five-door B class and a small crossover that may be called the GLA. A five-door wagon also is likely to be sold in the United States.
The cars are just a few inches shorter than the C class. They'll have 1.6- and 1.8-liter direct injection four-cylinder gasoline engines. Turbodiesel engines will be offered in Europe, but it's not known whether they will be available in the United States.
CLA: The sleek four-door will be the first fwd Mercedes to go on sale in the United States. It will debut in the fall of 2013.
B class: The electric version of the new-generation five-door will go on sale in 2014.
GLA: The compact crossover is likely to debut in 2014 or 2015. It will be similar in size to the BMW X1.
CLC: A five-door station wagon with styling similar to the CLA sedan has been approved for production in 2015, according to some reports. It may be called the CLC Shooting Brake.
F cell: An electric fuel cell version of the current five-door B class is being leased to drivers in Southern California on a trial basis for three years. A production version will debut in 2014, but only an unspecified "limited number" will be sold in California and possibly New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
C class: The compact sedan will be redesigned in 2014 and built in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the U.S. market. New C-class variants will be added, including a convertible, plug-in hybrid and 50-state clean diesel.
The two-door coupe, launched in 2011, won't be redesigned for several years.
E class: The range will get a freshening in 2013.
CL: The large coupe will be based on the new-generation S class and redesigned in 2014 or 2015. Mercedes likely will change the name to the S-class coupe.
CLS: The four-door coupelike sedan gets a freshening in 2014. The U.S. market will not get the station wagon version that goes on sale in Europe and other markets later this year.
S class: The redesigned flagship sedan goes on sale in the United States in the fall of 2013. Mercedes-Benz will offer a short-wheelbase model for Europe and a long wheelbase for the United States and China. At least three new body styles are planned, including a coupe, a convertible and a stretched model.
The sedan is expected to be slightly longer and curvier than the current model. The lineup will include at least one plug-in electric, a hybrid, one or two diesels and AMG high-performance models.
The S class will come with a body control feature that adjusts the suspension and handling to road surfaces. It also will have new radar-controlled braking and cruise control, an upgraded Mbrace2 cloud-based telematics system for entertainment, Internet-based services and communications. New inflatable rear seat belts also will debut on the S class.
A four-door convertible similar to the Ocean Drive concept shown in 2007 will probably launch in 2014 or 2015.
A stretched model is likely to arrive in 2015 or 2016 with ultraluxury features to replace the Maybach range that was axed because of slow sales. It will compete with the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost.
SLK: The hardtop convertible will be freshened in 2014.
SL: Mercedes' largest roadster was redesigned earlier this year. It won't be freshened until 2015.
SLS AMG: The E-cell electric-powered version of the gullwing supercar will debut at the Paris auto show in September and will go on sale in 2013.
R class: Sales of the slow-selling crossover will end this summer.
GLK: The freshened compact SUV goes on sale this month. A 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel GLK250 will be added early next year -- the third diesel SUV or crossover in the Mercedes U.S. lineup.
The GLK will be redesigned in 2016.
ML: Mercedes' best-selling SUV will be freshened in 2014. A coupelike version called the MLC that would compete with BMW's X6 is expected in 2014 or 2015.
GL: The redesigned full-sized SUV goes on sale in September in three variants, a diesel and two V-8 models. A high-performance GL63 AMG with 550 hp and a biturbo V-8 engine will be added in the first quarter of 2013.
The new-generation seven-seat GL is about one inch longer than its predecessor at 201.6 inches and one inch taller at 72.8 inches, and it has easier access to the third row of seats. New features include a standard radar-assisted system that monitors the distance of stationary and moving objects in front and pre-charges the brakes and emits a warning beep if a crash is imminent.
It also has new electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a new generation of the Mbrace2 telematics systems and a crosswind stabilization feature.
G class: A freshened version of the iconic, military-style vehicle goes on sale this month. The G class has received one of the most extensive updates it has had since debuting 33 years ago, with a more luxurious interior, similar to what's offered on other Mercedes-Benz models, including a wood veneer option.
A high-performance G63 AMG with 544 hp went on sale this month.
Sprinter: No changes are expected for the commercial vehicle in the coming years.
Maybach: The ultraluxury marque was killed, and U.S. sales ended with the 2012 models.
You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Follow Diana on