What's all this about?
This is the Mercedes Concept A Sedan, being shown off at the Auto Shanghai motor show this month. It displays a new, smoother design language for all of the German company's future compact cars and it could also preview a new addition to the ranks.
Doesn't Merc already have a compact four-door, the CLA?
It does, but that's supposed to be a rakish coupe. You'll note the Concept A Sedan has a more upright C-pillar and conventional saloon three-box proportions. China's a market that loves a proper saloon, see, as people like to sit in the back rather than be driven - and the CLA isn't the most capacious vehicle for passengers huddled in the rear.
OK, what else do we know about it?
Nothing. As yet. This is a design study. You're supposed to admire the fancy headlights that feature a grid structure, the large Panamericana grille that will become a range-wide Merc feature (it's already seen on the bigger GT cars, such as the SL), the flush door handles and the lack of creases on the bodywork, the short overhangs fore and aft, the rear diffuser-look to the back bumper and the S-Class-aping shape grafted onto a machine of compact dimensions (4,570mm x 1,870mm x 1,462mm). Funky.
So you can't tell me about the interior or motive power?
Not as such, no. Other than to say it would almost certainly use the familiar A-Class/CLA/GLA engines. Which might even mean an AMG version with the 381hp blown four-pot petrol lump.
Why a car so close in concept to the CLA?
Because there's money in them thar (compact car) hills. Mercedes has shifted more than two million A-Class, B-Class, CLA/CLA Shooting Brake and GLA models since 2012. Britta Seeger, Daimler's board member for Car Marketing and Sales, seemed to confirm the Concept A Sedan will go into production when she said: "Their success shows that our customers are absolutely delighted with the current generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars. We are therefore extremely confident that the planned expansion will lead to a continuation of this success story."
Does anyone else have anything to add?
Yes, here's something for you: "Our Concept A Sedan shows that the time of creases is over," said Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Daimler. "With its perfect proportions and a sensual treatment of surfaces with reduced lines, it is the next milestone of 'Sensual Purity' and has the potential to introduce a new design era."
Matt Robinson - 18 Apr 2017