• Nov 26th 2008 at 9:58AM
  • 27
Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2009 A class

The market for luxury cars is slipping, and stalwarts like Mercedes-Benz are not immune. The German automaker's current projections indicate that overall sales will drop by about 10% for 2008, and '09 isn't shaping up to be any better. On the other hand, one of the few bright spots in the U.S. auto market has been the sales of small cars, which have at least sustained level sales and in some cases increased tremendously. While Daimler has no basis for comparison since 2008 was the first year that the fortwo was sold here, sales of the smart brand have greatly outpaced the automaker's projections.

The success of small but premium cars has prompted MB USA to take another look at its A-Class and B-Class cars. This compact duo are sold in other countries, but have been deemed too diminutive to be widely accepted here in the States. That all may change in 2012. By then, Daimler will have had a chance to rework the two cars for the American market, bringing them more in line with the brand's U.S. aspirations, and that's a good thing since the big concern would be whether the two models would devalue the three-pointed star in the fickle eyes of us Americans.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah, we've had the 'B' here in Canada for a few years now....see quite a few in the Toronto area. That being said, I think the A Class is even more attractive and would welcome it here as well.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Meh. Maybe if they were RWD.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The B-Class is thought of like the MINI in Canada, and the "brand image" is not diminished.

      The A-Class, likewise, but less so, I suspect.

      Anyhow, I'm constantly reading how in Europe, MB is considered to be a "full-range" brand.

      Anyone can tell that the A-Class is not the most expensive MB, but what does that have to do with a 500 SL? Not much.

      Stop being such wusses and bring it over. If this economy has demonstrated anything, it's that "conventional 'wisdom'" in the auto industry is an oxymoron, and most manufacturers, especially American ones, have NO CLUE what Americans want.

      For the last time: ALL SUV's are hatchbacks, and they've been amply accepted. I think the point is made, so stop perpetuating the stereotype that Americans won't drive a hatch, or a small car. I honestly thought that once the Smart finally was sold here, that working theory would permanently tossed into the toilet.

        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Dave

        'deathtrap"? Compared to what? If you worried about suvs and such, sales are down to the seventh level of Hades. The three manufactures who are responsible for putting the majority of these things on the roads have cut back production if not stopped it completetly, with the possibility of declaring bankruptcy. So, through attrition and pure undesirable action, actual numbers of non-commercially driven large vehicles that could be a threat to your A-class (or similar type vehicle) will start disappearing from the landscape. You odds of coming in contact with one of them will go down every day.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why would they cheapen their image with this death trap. It was enough when they imported that small Hyundai looking compact with the word Compressor on the back, now this?
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's funny you say the B-class is thought of like the MINI in Canada. I wouldn't be surprised to see it the same here. But you will note that BMW doesn't call the MINI a BMW!

        So the BMW MINI is well thought of, but it's also seen as not something that fits in the BMW lineup. I wouldn't be surprised to see the B-class to be the same way.

        In Europe, taxis are M-Bs, and you can get a M-B with steel wheels and cloth seats. I really don't see the US going that direction.
        • 6 Years Ago
        M-B is supposedly dumping the sandwich in the new models (the ones that would make the US shores).

        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually the A & B are pretty safe cars. They use a "sandwich" design which allows the engine to go under the car instead of into the compartment in a crash. In Canada anyway the B is also fully decked out with all the safety features. It is also a really nice car inside with an amazing amount of space for it's size (think Rondo or Mazda 5 inside without the tiny third row but much nicer finishes). It was on our shortlist last time we were looking and I still might consider it next time around. The biggest problem is pricing which they have addressed with price reductions pretty much every year since it launched here. My biggest problem is I really like to dealer service my vehicles and there isn't a dealer here in town. I am also afraid MB Dealer service will cost more than the car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      When I first saw an A class in Hong Kong I was blown away. There is no need to "bring it in line with US aspirations" The only aspirations I have are to see it appear here in currnet form.
        • 6 Years Ago
        +1 I love how it looks right now. I would love to pick one up here in the states if it came in its current form. Hopefully the redesigned versions will look as good or even better than these current ones.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The B class is surprisingly roomy and not as small as it seems at first look. Nowhere near a mini.
      It's about the same lenght as a Pontiac Vibe but it's a few hinches larger.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What a crock!

      MB decided a long time ago, and was very open about this, that they did not want to introduce the A or B class cars in the US for fear it would hurt their reputation as a highend luxury auto manufacture. It was decided that many of their followers would feel betrayed by MB if the brand were used on cars driven by 'pedestrians'.

      It was the same reasoning used by Toyota introducing Lexus in the US, Honda introducing Acura, and BWM introducing Mini; that the major brand (Toyota and BWM) have a brand value that would not lend itself to a different market segment. For Toyota and Honda for their part understood that luxury car buyers in the US buy their cars for prestege rather than performance, and for that reason choose to release seperate brands so that their highend cars could provide these buyers the exclusivity that they craved. Similarly with BMW, they could have introduced any of their lower priced models to the US but chose not to as it would ruin the exclusive nature of the BWM brand, thus Mini was purchased and marketed as a seperate brand.

      To a smaller degree, GM did this with Saturn. It was understood by GM execs back in the 80's that most foreign car buyers in the US regarded the GM brands as inferior quality and capability. Creating a completely new brand and platform provided GM the ability to start with a new slate as it were.

      If MB were serious about the sale of A & B class cars in the US perhaps they should buy a US brand and simply rebrand them as such. For example, they could probably buy Chrysler for cheap and then call these cars the new Dodge Neon and Chrysler PT Crusier. Oh wait..... Didn't they already try this?
      • 6 Years Ago
      If they could bring in the A Class for $20K, I'll take one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      please Please PLEASE keep these hideous, overpriced, and underperforming monstrosities out of the USA.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Please, please, please, ignore this clown.

        If you don't want one, don't buy one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I typically wouldn't consider a Mercedes, but something like this, if reasonably priced would be compelling. It would be cuter with a bit more slope to that back window, but not too bad none-the-less.

      One improvement I would suggest is let me have it without the sweaty leather and gawdy wood grain. It's just too hot here in Texas to endure leather. And with the price premium these would probably command, I should have a choice of interior finishes.

      • 6 Years Ago
      the A class has been out for YEARS in Europe. The level of which Benz never thought about bringing it here to the US is so emphasized that when I went to a Benz garage here in California, they didn't even know what I was talking about.

      'A class?, there is no such thing as an A class" the salesman told me...

        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't use car salesmen to tell me which way the wind is blowing. They change jobs constantly, and most of them would gladly leave car sales to go to full-on Glengarry, Glen Ross-style real estate sales if presented with the opportunity. They're just not usually car guys.

        A better bet would be to ask someone in the service department, usually the person at the parts counter has been there a while, try asking that person.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Canadians: Yes, I know that the A-Class isn't sold in Canada, but that the B-Class is a huge hit there.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Haven't Smarts, and especially MINIs been sold a fair bit longer than the B-Class in Canada though?

        I do agree with your "ranking" of how often they're seen.

        Also, in traveling around, it really depends where you go, in terms of what you see. Where I live, I see dozens of MINIs everyday, but during a recent trip to Arizona, I hardly saw any (in the cities!).
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't know HOW huge the B-Class has been, but you notice them around in the urban areas. However, I'd say I see 10 Minis to 1 B-Class, and probably like 6 Smart Cars to 1 B-Class.
      • 6 Years Ago
      totally dependent on fuel prices
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