Seems like everyone is after a slice of MINI’s profitable pie. Not long after Kia signalled its intentions with its provo concept, German motor tabloid Autobild reports that Mercedes-Benz too is developing a new entry-level range to rival that of BMW’s British-branded fashion heroes, as rendered here by Theophilus Chin.
It will still wear a Mercedes-Benz badge though, and is likely to use a new X-Class moniker. Why X? Because X marks the spot, of course! The new range of vehicles is said to include a base hatchback and a crossover, much like MINI’s current range. A booted sedan may also be in the works, targeted at more traditional markets, i.e. hatchback-hating regions such as ours.
The next-generation Renault Clio platform will be used as a base, building further on the Daimler-Renault-Nissan technical partnership that has seen shared production plans in Eastern Europe under way and the use of Mercedes CGI engines on the new Infiniti Q50 compact executive saloon.
Keeping costs down will be a main priority, hence the use of a shared, less than premium platform. The styling and tech on offer will justify its premium pricing and market positioning however, which can be assumed to be around the MINI range.
The initial plan is to have efficient 1 litre three cylinder engines as well as more powerful 1.5 litre four motors. Direct injection and turbocharging are on the cards too.
Expected price range will be below the €20,000 mark, over 10% less than the cheapest A-Class. Don’t hold your breath just yet though, as market production isn’t expected until 2018.