Mercedes-Benz has today revealed the 2012 A-Class Concept, offering a first glimpse at what lays ahead for the reborn small car.

Officially, the A-Class concept is a 'prototype design study' only, but as with many of Mercedes' recent concepts, we can likely expect more than a few of its lines to appear in the production version next year.

Scrapping the minivan styling of the current A-Class (no longer offered in Australia), the new concept brings a sleek coupe-like roofline, supercar wing mirrors and chracter lines reminiscent of last year's Shooting Break concept.

At the front and rear ends, the A-Class Concept features Mercedes' most aggressive styling yet, putting even the SLS AMG and 2012 CLS on notice - although those high-powered flagships are unlikely to feel threatened.

Power for the dimunitive A-Class concept is delivered by direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0 litre petrol engine, developing a Golf GTI-rivalling 156kW. Motivation is sent to the front wheels through a new dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Reports in the past year have also pointed to a high-powered AMG variant, targeting the more top-shelf small offerings from the company's competitors, including the Golf R and its Audi S3 sibling.

Speculated power figures for the AMG version vary wildly however, with Britain's Autocar claiming numbers upwards of 230kW - putting the front-wheel-drive A-Class AMG into Ford Focus RS territory.

The A-Class Concept is set to debut at the Shanghai Auto Show later this month.