Mercedes' smallest model is growing, but at the same time it's losing weight.

It was a little over a year ago when Mercedes facelifted its supermini and as you can see work is already well underway on the next-gen A-Class which is expected to come out in 2018. Compared to the car you see on the roads today, the new one will grow in size judging by the elongated wheelbase of this camouflaged prototype which also appears to have slightly wider track.

If you are worried the increased footprint will make the next A-Class heavier, that won’t be the case since Mercedes’ entry-level model will be the first to ride on the MFA2 platform. It will be an evolution of the current architecture and is going to use more aluminum, thus shaving weight and improving rigidity. The car could actually end up lighter than the current model and this will obviously pay dividends in terms of efficiency and performance.

As a result of the increased size, the 2018 A-Class will have a more accommodating cabin with more room in the back and is going to feature a larger trunk. The disguise applied on this prototype spotted in southern Europe hides the car’s design and chances are the vehicle does not even have all the production bits. The headlights and taillights are certainly not final and maybe some of the body panels are provisional. That being said, we do notice the rear doors are slightly longer and the side mirrors are now sitting on the doors rather than at the base of the A-pillars as it’s the case with the current model.

2018 Mercedes A-Class spy photo
2016 Mercedes-Benz A-Class facelift

Looking at the windscreen, it is noticeable the car was packed with sensors and in some of the pictures you’ll be able to notice the dashboard was entirely masked, suggesting some significant changes are in the works. It is believed the car will receive an entirely digital instrument cluster as seen in one of the model’s main rivals, the facelifted Audi A3.

Codenamed W177, the next-generation A-Class will likely spawn a plug-in hybrid derivative joining the conventionally-powered versions which will use an assortment of gasoline and diesel engines. According to Autocar, Mercedes will offer 1.6- and 2.0-liter gasoline units along with 1.5- and 2.0-liter diesels linked to a six-speed manual or an optional dual-clutch, nine-speed automatic. A front-wheel-drive layout will continue to be standard, but Mercedes apparently has plans for more 4MATIC-equipped versions of the model for those who need the extra grip.

It’s unclear at this point when the fourth-gen A-Class will be unveiled, although a possible venue is the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. We might see this car in United States, but it’s too soon to say if it will actually happen.

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