New entry to the compact SUV segment designed to rival the likes of the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque
Mark Tisshaw
18 April 2013

A production version of the striking Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA is poised to enter the booming compact SUV segment.

The Concept GLA is one of the stars of the Shanghai motor show, and is described by insiders as being as much as 90 per cent representative of the GLA production car that will go on sale early next year, priced from around £25,000.

It's also the latest model to be spun off Mercedes’ latest front-drive MFA architecture, following the latest A-class and B-class models and the CLA saloon.

The concept is 4383mm long, 1978mm wide and 1579mm high — dimensions that are understood to be almost identical to those of the production car. The wheelbase of the concept has not been given, but it’s believed to be the same 2699mm employed by its siblings.

These dimensions closely match the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque — the three chief rivals that the GLA will face when it reaches the UK market next year. We’ll get to see the finished production car either at the tail end of this year or at the Detroit motor show early next year.

Mercedes’ sales and marketing chief, Joachim Schmidt, describes the GLA’s role in the compact SUV segment as “a sporty and more coupé-like evolution of this category of vehicle”.

The front end features perhaps the most modern treatment yet of Mercedes’ familiar core design, with just two horizontal bars used for the front grille, which places the marque’s three-pointed star logo at its centre.

The front headlights are among the more outlandish concept car features. They feature laser beam projectors that act as headlights in the first instance, but can also project pictures or films controlled through Mercedes’ interior Comand Online infotainment system, or work in real time to project sat-nav functions on to the road ahead.

This feature is not due to make production in the near future, let alone on the GLA, but the core exterior design of the car is tipped to make it over from concept to production relatively unchanged.

The five-door Concept GLA’s gently sloping roofline flows into the tailgate to give a sleek and sporty silhouette. This profile is enhanced by a glasshouse that uses frameless doors and narrows towards the rear, a ‘dropping line’ that runs from the front headlights to the rear wheelarches and a beltline that rises towards the C-pillars.

The C-pillars wrap around to the rear over slim tail-lights to visually widen the rear of the car at the bottom, giving a sporty, squat stance. Only the large alloys and some of the detailing on the bumpers and lights will be toned down for production.

That’s despite the fact that test mules of the GLA have hinted that it will have the look of a raised A-class. Insiders now insist there will be much more Concept GLA design than A-class in the production car.

At first glance, the car’s four-seat cabin offers the outlandish look that you’d expect of a concept car, but look past some of the material and trim details and it’s easy to spot the links that the production GLA will have to the A-class, B-class and CLA.

The layout on the centre console and the positioning of the round air vents, multimedia screen and instrument binnacle are recognisable from the other MFA models and will feature in the production GLA.

A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine — also familiar from the other MFA cars — offers 208bhp in the Concept GLA. Drive is channelled to all four wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch, automatic transmission and Mercedes’ proprietary 4Matic system.

The engine line-up of the production car is not yet known, but it’s likely Mercedes UK will cherry-pick units from the German market’s wider line-up rather than taking all options, as it has done with the CLA.

If the exclusively four-cylinder engine line-up of the CLA is reflected in the GLA, a 120bhp 1.6-litre petrol will be used in the base GLA180, a 134bhp 1.8-litre diesel in the GLA200 CDI, a 168bhp 2.1-litre  diesel in the GLA220 CDI and the concept’s 208bhp 2.0-litre petrol in the GLA250.

The four-wheel drive system should be offered with the more potent engines, including the GLA250, with front-wheel drive supplied as standard.

Later next year the Mercedes-Benz GLA range will be crowned by a GLA45 AMG version. The hot range-topper will use the same running gear as the A45 and CLA45 models, meaning power will be sent to all four wheels by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 335bhp.


Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz GLA

This compact crossover has it all to do in a crowded, talented class

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18 April 2013

Volvo inspires Merc ... Wink

Best looking -A-derivative so far.

18 April 2013

It's a pity that concepts never make it to production AS IS ... This is probably the most exciting and striking compact SUV going and if I had the money, I would buy one! ... Unfortunately, whilst the exterior will not change much, I wager the interior will lose those wicked air vents and rear seats ... Shame ...

18 April 2013

Watch out Evoque.....the Germans are after a slice of your very profitable pie.  Let's hope JLR have lots of new drivetrains & 'uplifts' in store to combat the onslaught......



18 April 2013

I like this a lot.  However, the CLA also looked amazing as a concept and then lost something in translation (quite apart from the show-car jewellery, like the big wheels and tiny mirrors)  Let's hope Mercedes managed to keep the looks intact this time.

18 April 2013

I think that's quite good looking. A bit Infiniti-esque in places (but not in a bad way). I wouldn't object if it was toned down just slightly, and the GLA45 is well aligned with my next-car-interests.

18 April 2013

Curious, an A-class derivative finally gets a body that suits its front-end styling.

Makes you wonder if the Concept GLA was actually penned first, and the rest of the A-class sibblings are spin-off designs.

18 April 2013

This looks superb. Just hope the production version is effectively identical to the Concept GLA, minus some of the bling concept add ons, unlike the CLA which went from stunning concept to a similar but worse looking production version.

18 April 2013

Must agree with the positive vibes from the other readers.  It certainly looks fantastic and, if I'm honest, it has real sparkle which is something lacking in much of Merc's current range.

However, I fear the actual car will be very much diluted in production guise especially with the interior.  My father's C class looks lovely which inspired me to have a peep at my local Mercedes showroom.  I was horrified to note that IMITATlON leather is a cost option with some of its cars including the C class.  To be offered plastic seats as an option on a £35k car... I wonder how many Merc drivers are driving round thinking their butt it sitting on leather when in fact it is cheap imitation. 

18 April 2013

slide 15, it looks very much like the concept DS line premium suv from Citroen.

18 April 2013

Really quite liking this.  Although in typical concept-car fashion, the projection headlights are pretty far out there - you can see them working in the video here:


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