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First look: Mercedes GLA breaks cover

Big idea: Mercedes GLA will go head-to-head with BMW's X1 and Audi's Q3.

Official image of all-new Mercedes GLA compact SUV emerges ahead of Shanghai debut

18 Apr 2013

MERCEDES-BENZ has released the first official image of its “next big thing” – the GLA compact SUV that will make its world premiere in near-production form at the Shanghai motor show this weekend.

Although only a sketch, the image posted by the German luxury car manufacturer on its Facebook site overnight shows in clear detail the basic front-end styling of the all-new vehicle, which will provide Mercedes with a rival for the likes of the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.

Further details will emerge from China in coming days, but production is scheduled to start inside 12 months at the company’s Rastatt plant in Germany.

It will roll down the line alongside the related A-Class and B-Class compact cars with which the GLA will have much in common, including its ‘MFA’ platform and modern petrol and diesel powertrains.

As GoAuto has reported, Australian sales should start later in 2014, but strong overseas demand could push out its launch timing and restrict supply, as has been the case with the A- and B-Class.

The image shows a distinct family resemblance to other MFA-based vehicles, with a strong and dynamic stance, sculptural lines, broad flanks, flared wheel arches and a muscular interpretation of the unmistakable Mercedes grille with its central star and double slats either side.

As with other models in the MFA stable, which include the CLA small sedan, the GLA will be charged with bringing new, and typically younger, customers into Mercedes-Benz showrooms.

Powertrains and drivelines are still to be revealed, but expect a broad range of hi-tech turbocharged petrol and diesel engines in both two- and four-wheel-drive configuration, the latter using a version of the company’s 4Matic system developed specifically for the transverse-engined, front-drive-based MFA family.

To debut on the AMG-enhanced A45 and CLA45 performance cars, the new 4Matic is claimed to be 25 per cent lighter and more fuel efficient than comparable systems.

It drives only the front wheels in normal conditions but can send up to half the torque to the rear axle when front-end slip is detected.

The Australian A- and B-Class range includes a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine in two states of tune – 90kW/200Nm and 115kW/250m – and a 100kW/300Nm 1.8-litre turbo-diesel four.

All offer a fuel-saving engine stop-start system and are paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

At the sportier end, AMG gets involved with a 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, while a fire-breathing, benchmark-setting 265kW/450Nm version is coming with the all-wheel-drive A45/CLA45.

On its Facebook site last night, Mercedes-Benz simply said: “Ladies and gentlemen, may we present an exclusive sketch of our next big thing: this compact Mercedes-Benz off-road vehicle will premiere in Shanghai this Saturday. So stay tuned to find out more very soon.”

A second-generation GLK, based on the next C-Class, will follow the GLA and should become available for this market with the promise of right-hand-drive production for the first time.

Mercedes-Benz also used the Shanghai show to preview the new A-Class, presenting a near-production concept of the radically redesigned new model two years ago.

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