Mercedes-Benz will launch four new compact models starting from next year with the new A-Class, said CEO Dieter Zetsche, speaking at the unveil of the Concept A-Class.

This car, which will be in showrooms from next year, marks a new design direction from Mercedes Benz, he said, and is the first of these new compact vehicles, he said.

The design injects some dynamism into the third generation A-Class in a bid to provide more serious opposition to the BMW 1 series.

The concept is powered by a 'BlueEfficiency' turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 210bhp and making it nearly twice as powerful as any current A-class.

One notable feature is the radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist, a first in this size of car. The system gives the driver visual and audible warnings and prepares the braking pressure needed when the driver hits the pedal.