The last few posts in this thread are suffering from a predominantly American viewpoint due to the narrow window of Mercedes-Benz models available in the states.
The A-platform is not new. It began in 1997, and it's merely the 3rd generation now coming out, which will finally be available in the states. It's silly then to be claiming the new A-platform isn't a real Mercedes-Benz, because, good god, has anyone here seen what the old A class looked like? How about the B-class? Look for yourself:
Mercedes-Benz A-Class - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
No one says a word for 16 years, but suddenly now that the A-series platform is available in the states, the sky is falling.
If one is that much a Mercedes-Benz purist, and they want an A-series platform, then they should probably be looking at the AMG versions with their 4 wheel drive and hand built German engines. Sure, one will have to pay for it, but again, if you're that much of Mercedes-Benz purist then you shouldn't mind paying Mercedes-Benz cash for a "real" Mercedes-Benz.