Mercedes-Benz bets big on MFA Platform to return to the top of the luxury segment

So, haven’t you heard the latest and hottest development in the Indian automotive industry yet? Quite ironically, it is not specific to India alone as it is just a repeat of something that happened globally some time back. For those who are still guessing, Audi has narrowly beaten BMW to become the top-selling luxury brand in the month of June. All these days, Audi was not only trailing behind BMW, the best-selling luxury brand for quite some time now, but also behind Mercedes-Benz. With this recent development though, Mercedes-Benz has been left trailing behind its fellow German compatriots. This has come as a surprise even for those of us who knew Mercedes-Benz isn't what it was a couple of decades back.

Back then, cars wearing the three-pointed star were literally built like tanks with rock-solid reliability and stellar quality levels, easily making them the best luxury brand by far. In fact, Mercedes-Benz cars in those days were always considered over-engineered, not just by customers and the general public but also by automotive experts and enthusiasts. Since the dawn of the new millennium however, complex electronics and relatively sub-par build quality enabled its competitors to surge past. As a direct consequence, sales figures also suffered as BMW and Audi raced ahead, relegating the once-invincible Mercedes-Benz to third spot in luxury car ranks. Again, the situation is no different in the Indian market too.

But, being who they are, Mercedes-Benz is working overtime to rewrite its fortunes, in India and elsewhere. Apart from next generation variants of mainstream models that form a part of the growth strategy, Mercedes-Benz is pinning all its hopes on a three letter acronym called 'MFA' to power its resurgence. The MFA, or the ‘Modular Front Architecture’, is the new front wheel drive platform of Mercedes-Benz that would span a host of all-new models and, in the process, make the brand affordable to a lot of first-time buyers. The company believes that the cost saved by moving to the new front wheel drive architecture would help make their entry-level models more affordable and therefore desirable. We have no reason to believe otherwise.

The B-Class compact sports-tourer (above) that debuted at the end of 2011 to a favorable response was the first model to come out of this platform. Though the new B-Class doesn't look as futuristic as the other recent models from Mercedes-Benz, it is a quantum leap over its predecessor. This was perfectly summed up by Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars, when he once stated "No model change in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop". It is this same game-changing model that will be leading the brand's challenge in India too, with launch slated to happen sometime this month.

Carrying the legacy forward is the A-Class hatchback (above) that was recently unveiled in the global markets. Unlike the previous generation model that didn’t quite set the sales chart on fire as expected, the new A-Class is a visual stunner and Mercedes-Benz has quite deservedly received a phenomenal response to its smallest and cheapest model. Next up is a four-door coupe, something that looks like a CLS but with a compact footprint. Trust us, when we first saw the concept version 'CSC (Concept Style Coupe)' that debuted in China a couple of months back, we thought this has to be the sexiest sedan ever (below). Just look at it and we swear you won't deny our claim. We will save more on this model for another day and another post. The MFA magic isn't going to stop with this trio.

A crossover that will take on the likes of Audi’s Q3 and BMW’s X1, the two big volume-churners for the respective brands and another yet to be declared model are touted to join the lineup soon. Oh yes, India is on the radar for all these models too. In short, with the MFA Platform and its derivatives, it looks like Mercedes-Benz is well and truly on its path to return to the top by 2020 as it has openly stated. We aren't betting against, but the competition isn't going to sit back and relax. Audi and BMW will obviously be hell-bent in making things difficult for Mercedes-Benz and this only means one thing. Not Mercedes-Benz, not BMW, not Audi, it's going to be the customers, automotive fans like you and enthusiasts like us, who are going to be the real winners of this battle.

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