Mercedes has revealed the new A-Class, due to appear in UK showrooms in the spring of 2005.

The new A-Class will be available as both a three- and five-door, in an attempt to inject the model range with a “sporty, youthful image.”

232mm longer and 45mm wider than its predecessor, the new A-Class retains the sandwich platform concept, but features new headlights, a new grille, sculpted wings and a bold sweep along its side profile.

Safety equipment includes a new seat belt and airbag system, with two-stage front airbags, newly-developed head and thorax airbags in place of the previous side airbags, and adaptive belt force limiters.

A new parabolic rear axle keeps body roll in check, while a pioneering selective damping system adjusts damper forces to the current driving situation.

The new engines deliver up to 38 per cent more output, but with up to 10 per cent better fuel economy. Seven four-cylinder engines – including three newly developed CDI direct injection diesels and one new 193 bhp turbocharged petrol – make up the range, and all units are Euro IV compliant. Particulate filters are available for the diesel models, and the A160 CDI can travel around 680 miles on one 54-litre tank.

A new AUTOTRONIC continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available as an option on all models – a first for Mercedes – and is said to offer better performance than a standard automatic transmission.

Inside, there’s more space: shoulder room has grown by up to 97 mm, elbow room by up to 95 mm and rear knee space by 30 mm. The distance between the front and rear seats is 805 mm – roughly the same as that found in a medium-size saloon.

Interior materials have been carefully chosen, with DaimlerChrysler carrying out research to establish what they call the “TAF factor” (Touch And Feel factor).

In terms of kit, there’s a new multi-function steering wheel, and a new air conditioning and climate control system that uses information from sensors to record temperature, position of the sun, air humidity and level of pollutants in the outside air.

Other optional extras include the latest generation COMAND APS control and display system, the Audio 50 APS navigation car radio and bi-xenon headlamps.

Further back, there’s up to 1,955 litres of luggage space thanks to the optional EASY-VARIO-PLUS system, which allows the rear seat backrests to be removed, as well as the passenger seat to be folded forward or removed completely. In this configuration, loads of up to 2.75m in length can be carried. As standard, there’s 1,310 litres (VDA), with 60/40 split folding rear seats and a height-adjustable loading floor.

Full UK pricing and specification will be announced later this year, prior to the model’s 2005 launch.