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Mercedes' Audi Q3-rivalling GLA loses more of its disguise

Mercedes’ forthcoming GLA is shedding its disguise as the car approaches the last stages of its development. The lighter shows the GLA’s design more clearly than before, in particular the car’s pronounced rear wheelarches.

It’s also clear from these images that the GLA is styled to look like a crossover and not a small SUV.

The new five seater will rival the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Volkswagen Tiguan, with Mercedes-Benz officials confirming the car will offer a wide range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines together with the choice of either front- and, on selected models, four-wheel drive.

Part of a five strong line-up based on Mercedes-Benz’s Modular Front Architecture (MFA), the GLA will join the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W176) and second-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class (W246) along with the soon-to-be revealed four-door CLA saloon (C117) and yet to be formally confirmed CLA Shooting Brake (S117) as Mercedes attempts to attract younger customers, having slipped behind Audi and BMW.

The GLA is set to offer the same range of engines as the B-class, alongside which it will be produced at Mercedes-Benz’s new manufacturing facility in Kecskemet in Hungary.

Among the petrol units will be a Renault-sourced turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder producing 122bhp and 156bhp together with an in-house developed turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 211bhp. There will be a range-topping GLA45 AMG, with twin-turbo engine producing a gutsy 350bhp. They will be joined by a single 1.8-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel with 109bhp and 136bhp. 

Gearbox choices for the GLA are set to include a standard six-speed manual and optional seven-speed dual clutch unit – the latter offering both manual and automatic modes. Base models are planned to get front-wheel drive, while more powerful upper end models will offer four-wheel drive via a Haldex style multi-plate clutch.

As with the recently introduced third-generation A-class, the GLA will support a range of optional media connectivity services, including full Apple iPhone and Google Android compatibility, as part of Mercedes-Benz’s efforts to ensure it future models carry greater appeal among younger buyers than now. 

The GLA is one of three new SUVs Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce by the middle of the decade. Joining it in the UK will be the second-generation GLK and a new BMW X6 rivalling MLC; both cars will be produced at the company’s Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama.

The new GLK is based on Mercedes-Benz’s new MRA (modular rear architecture) platform that will first see service underneath the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class due out in 2014 and, for the first time, provide the scope for both left- and right-hand drive production - something the current model's underpinnings can't provide. The MLC uses the same basic underpinnings as the third-generation M-class.


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Car review

Merc's first compact crossover might enter at the premium end of the class, but it faces tough competition from established entries like the Nissan Qashqai

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