IT looks like we are in for some fun and games in the premium compact hatchback segment with not one but three new entrants due to lob within the next 12 months.
A Mercedes-Benz's new A-Class will be joined in the fray by Audi's new A3 and the new Volvo V40, a shorter, hatchback variant of the S60 sedan for want of a better description.
All are five door hatchbacks with front-wheel drive. BMW's stylistically challenged 1-Series is the only rear-wheel drive.
Although some manufacturers are reluctant to admit it, the main competition for all players is VW's super-popular Golf.
The Benz is a clean sheet project having nothing at all in common with the previous A-Class mini people mover.
That job has been ceded to the new Benz B-Class and it's an effective device for everyday family motoring.
New A-Class is taking Benz in a totally new direction that will open up a wider and younger customer base to the three pointed star.
Early kick-off price guesstimates are in the $35,000 range.
It precisely targets Gen Y and Xers (so-called Digital Natives) replete with a full array of connectivity right down to being able to seamlessly hook up your iPad or iPhone to the in-car info/control system.
It will be a smart phone on wheels offering a smooth transition from a digital lifestyle to a digital driving style.
And get this, there's a virtual co-driver you can question or instruct to operate in-car functions.
The stunning looker, which bears a remarkable similarity to the A Concept of 2011, will be made in Germany, Hungary and tellingly, China.
And we can expect a few other variants built on the same front wheel drive platform (moving to all-wheel drive when AMG gets its hands on A-Class).
It will be powered by a range of existing and a couple of new Benz turbo direct injection petrol and turbo-diesel engines rated from 80kW through to 155kW with capacities ranging from 1.6 through to 2.1-litres.
Benz hasn't confirmed it, but a three door hatch variant should become available a little further down the track and possibly a cabriolet.
Benz's performance partner AMG has been enlisted to develop certain A-Class parts so they have intimate knowledge of the car already. The A250 Sport enjoys significant AMG input.
New A-Class will be offered with six-speed manual and seven-speed dual clutch manumatic transmissions and all models will have auto stop/start to optimise fuel economy.
Benz won't hold back on the acronym features list either that will see the new baby Benz fitted with a speed limiter (Distronic), radar-based Collision Prevention Assist (CPA), Pre-Safe collision preparation and Lane Keeping Assist as well as Fatigue Alert and numerous other electronic driver and safety aids.
Wow, if it goes as good as it looks the new A-Class could be a world beater.