Mercedes-Benz showed off an uncharacteristically wild design for its A-class concept at the 2011 New York auto show. The concept signals a new generation for the A-class compact car the company sells in Europe. The venue for the unveiling also suggests Mercedes-Benz is considering marketing its A-class in the U.S.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET
The design mixes classic Mercedes-Benz elements, such as the large badge on the grille, and more outlandish features. For example, the grille is formed from an array of black stems topped with silver. The headlights use fiber-optic strands for the parking lights.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET
The design looks far cooler than the production A-class, using a hot hatchback format. Mercedes-Benz designer Gorden Wagener uses the term "Captured Energy" to describe the design language. The car is intended to look like it was shaped by the wind, so uses wheels that look like turbines.

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A more realistic aspect of this concept is the power train, a direct-injection turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder making 210 horsepower. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, helping to maximize fuel economy.

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Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET
Interior designers brought an aircraft-inspired look to the cabin. Gauges and air vents are intended to resemble jet afterburners, and the drive selector mimics a jet's thrust control. The electronics include smartphone integration, with apps such as Facebook available on the car's main screen.

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The concept's two-door, four-seat format allows a reasonably sized cargo area in back.

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Photo by: Mercedes-Benz
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