GENEVA -- The new A class unveiled by Mercedes-Benz on Monday ditches the current-generation car's boxy, minivan-like styling for a fresh, sporty look, which the automaker hopes will attract younger customers to the brand.
"The A class is the right product at the right time and has tremendous potential to tap into new target groups and markets," Joachim Schmidt, head of sales and marketing at Mercedes, said in a statement.
The A class will arrive in European showrooms in September and is scheduled to launch in the United States in 2014.
Mercedes expects more than half of A-class customers will be new to the brand. "We are targeting buyers aged from the late 30s to the mid-40s," Schmidt told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe, in an interview.
The A class will be the first Mercedes compact car sold in the United States. "The United States is ready for a chic, compact car from Mercedes," Schmidt said. "It will be offered with all the important features, including safety technology. I am convinced that it will be a success there."
The A class will be built in Germany, Hungary and China, where it will go on sale in 2013.
The car will be a key model for Mercedes in its bid to retake the luxury-car lead from BMW, as well as fight off tougher competition from Audi.
Mercedes hopes the car's sporty styling will make it a strong competitor to the BMW 1 series and Audi A3.
The A class is based on the new Mercedes Frontwheel Architecture (MFA) that also underpins the new B class, which was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show and retains its boxy, minivan-like design.