Fresh off of its unveiling halfway around the world at the Shanghai Motor Show, Daimler graced the squeaky-clean floors of its brand-new flagship showroom, Mercedes-Benz Manhattan, with its striking Concept A-Class.
Nestled in the corner of the 11th Avenue megaplex (five floors and over seven acres of floor space in New York City), the Concept A comes off as surprisingly dynamic for what amounts to a conventional three-door hatchback – and a static one at that (unlike the car shown in China, the New York Auto Show star only has a half-interior). And it's not just unique details like the elaborate pinwork grille (composed of hexagonal silver nubs on blacked-out stems), the windswept headlamps or the waifish side mirrors – the whole package just somehow comes together. We're not sure if we're finally getting more comfortable with the blunt-nosed look that's infiltrating the Three-Pointed-Star's lineup (see: SLS AMG, CLS, etc.), or if it just works particularly well here, but in the metal, the Concept A-Class looks more convincing than we expected from the first batch of press images.
That's good news, because Benz is very serious about making its next production A-Class a world car – including North America. To that end, even in showcar regalia, the Concept A has perfectly feasible mechanicals: a 2.0-liter, 210-horsepower four-cylinder from Daimler's new M270 range driving the front wheels and shifted by a dual-clutch gearbox. It also appears to be more conventional in chassis construction, eschewing the clever (if costly) 'sandwich' architecture and upright profile of the original 1997 model.
When it finally arrives in production form, the next-generation A-Class will no doubt ride on smaller wheels, have a taller greenhouse, and the engine will likely nestle behind a more conventional grille. Even so, Mercedes will still be on to something if it can preserve the appeal of the Concept A-Class' form factor.