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Mercedes-Benz asks U.S. customers about a future small car

Tue, 11 May 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Ready for a small, entry-level Mercedes-Benz? If so, Benz wants to hear from you. The company says it is gathering input from U.S. consumers and is reviewing choices for a new line of entry-level models.

Word is three variants are possible: a crossover, a sporty coupe and a sedan, all based on the redesigned, front-drive B-class platform.

"The first clinics have been done in the U.S. market," Bernhard Glaser, general manager of product development at Mercedes-Benz USA, told Automotive News. "We are still at a very early stage. The design freeze has not taken place."

Glaser said focus groups were shown full-size clay models.

U.S. dealers have told the factory they do not want a hatchback. The B-class sold in Europe and Canada is a boxy five-door hatchback that dealers claim does not fit Mercedes' luxury image.

Glaser said Mercedes has not decided whether the cars would be sold under the B-class name in the United States or have a separate designation. Whatever they're called, it looks like there will be a small Benz coming next year.

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