Germany’s major manufacturers set for fight of the small super-saloons
Another battle for supremacy is brewing in Germany between the resident manufacturers of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, and there are no surprises that it's once again over another niche area of motoring.
The three firms have been very efficient in finding gaps in the market and Audi have been the first to put their plans in place for a premium compact performance saloon, with a four-door saloon S3 model in the works. The S3 has been a long-standing figure in the company's roster and now with Mercedes' CLA45 AMG also in the pipeline, Audi have decided to undercut their compatriots and get their model out first.
However, BMW look to be jumping on this bandwagon too and are planning an entry-level M car to rival both Audi and Mercedes' sporty saloons.
With the recent success of the Bavarian firm's M135i and the 1M, BMW are hoping to offer a saloon version of the former, albeit with a small engine. All three will have ample power plants, with Audi and BMW looking to offer 2.0 litre turbo-charged units with around 300bhp on tap, whilst the Mercedes will have around 350bhp available from its turbo-charged four-cylinder engine which will be shared with the A45 AMG due out next summer. All three stand some way away from their usual fleet-market motors and fuel card demeanour.
Mercedes will be on the back-foot, however, as it won't even be revealing the standard version of the incoming CLA model until next year's Frankfurt Motor Show, whereas Audi will look to have their S3 saloon out next summer. BMW's contribution to this market could arrive the same time as Mercedes'.
BMW's strategy for this model could fall in line with its plans to branch out its front-wheel drive program that is set to come into effect over the next two years and will be joined by the Munich-based firm's plans for a three-cylinder engine and the rumoured Mini saloon due in 2015.
Front-wheel drive will not be on the agenda for the other two, though, with Audi's Quattro system likely to be in place on its S3 and Mercedes is looking to implement its all-wheel drive currently set for the A45 AMG.
Efficient engines will be key for all three models and with turbo-charging a key ingredient in the mix, offering competitive return on fuel considering the engines being used and all will likely be the easiest on fuel costs within the power band.
Mercedes looks to be putting in fuel-saving technologies upon the CLA45 that include brake energy recuperation and an automatic stop-start function, with fuel figures possibly reaching a very generous 40mpg. BMW's version will benefit from direct fuel injection, twin-scrolling turbo-charging and variable valve timing, aiding both fuel costs and performance.
All three cars will look to compete on price and cost is expected not to push beyond £35,000 before options.
About the author: Sam writes for Choose A Fuel Card who offer varied fuel cards for all types of driver, whether you drive a car, PSV or LGV, allowing you to compare fuel car solutions.