Mercedes is working by itself on a whole bunch of big engines, inline-6 ones that are going to change many facets of the luxury car scene. However, small displacement mills have never been its specialty, which is why the 1.5-liter in the GLA or the 1.6-liter diesel in the C-Class is made by Renault.
British magazine Autocar says that the new 1.2- and 1.4-liter units are being developed under the M282 internal codename umbrella. They are turbocharged and feature direct fuel injection. What's more, they are likely to be introduced in the A-Class first, come 2018, but won't ever see a transverse application.
After that, the entire MFA2-based family, rumored to include eight body types, will benefit from these downsized four-bangers. Renault is just as likely to benefit from these new engines, as the Megane has a huge power gap between the 130 PS 1.6 dCi and 1.2 TCe models and the 205 PS Megane GT.
There's even talk of the 1.5-liter diesel being discontinued after 2020, so a mild hybrid small displacement gasoline engine might be on the cars. Volkswagen has announced such a thing for the Golf and Polo BlueMotion models.
While a 1.2-liter engine might seem unfit for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, you can go as low as a 1.0-liter in the rival Audi A3 model.
However, small engines are by no means a safe bet. In our view, Toyota is ahead of the game with its new generation of hybrid drivetrains. The Prius and Auris have been witnessing double-digits sales growth, so driving habits are changing. Maybe Daimler needs to come up with its own hybrid instead of downsizing, which is frankly showing its limitations.
However, Mercedes continues to have its act together at the top of the powertrain range. The new A-Class will feature re-worked versions of the M274 1.6-liter and M260 2.0-liter, which will receive a power boost when applied to the A40 AMG model.