Mercedes GLA concept (2013) first official pictures

Published: 18 April 2013

This concept car previews the look of the new Mercedes GLA. ‘GLA’ is new jumble of letters from Merc – essentially this is a jacked-up crossover version of the current A-class hatchback. A production version of this Shanghai motor-show bound concept will be on sale in a Mercedes showroom near you from 2015.

Mercedes GLA concept: the exterior need-to-know

Struggling to pigeonhole the GLA? It’s the same length as an Audi Q3, but slightly wider and lower, giving it a sportier, less boxy profile. The headlights and bluff front with three-pointed star are recognisable from the A-class and CLA, but the lower grille, biting down on two spotlights, gives the GLA a more workmanlike, SUV-style face. The GLA concept rides on 20in wheels, and gets the same ‘swoosh’ styling lines down the flanks as the CLA, CLS and upcoming S-class.

C-shaped light clusters and more chrome skidplates dominate the rear view. Expect the production car to opt for a less blinged-up look by the time you can buy one, from around £22,000.

Tell me about the Mercedes GLA concept’s wacky side

It wouldn’t be a concept car without some ludicrous techy features, and the GLA fits that bill. Of course, the cabin is over-the-top, marrying the usual Mercedes design cues and buttons with futuristic tan seats and copious polished aluminium touches. The air vents glow blue when blowing cold air, emit white light at a balmy 22 degrees Celsius, and turn red when you turn up the heat.

On the outside, Mercedes has really gone to town with the lights. Each headlight is fitted with a laser-beam projector (really) which not only lights the road ahead, but can also project photos or films saved onto your smartphone, the car’s hard-drive or streamed from the internet.

Plus, this mobile cinema can act as a camera crew. Twin cameras in the front of the GLA’s roof rails can record high-definition 3D movies. The cameras can also be removed for away-from-car shooting.

If you’re thinking this is spurious concept car nonsense, Mercedes has news for you. The car’s engineers and designers reckon that laser lighting technology could be a major car safety feature in the future, allowing drivers to project their sat-nav directions ahead of them onto the road. Mercedes reckons this would not only help drivers keep their eyes away from cabin distractions, but inform other road users of the Mercedes driver’s intended direction, cutting down on potential collisions.

What’s under the bonnet of the Mercedes GLA?

This concept car uses a 209bhp four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, connected to Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. The GLA will be the latest Mercedes to use the new 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which monitors grip across all four wheels and sends up to 50% of power to the rears if the front tyres start to struggle.

Several tunes of turbocharged petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines will be available in the production GLA, as well as a six-speed manual gearbox in addition to the automatic. Naturally, there’ll be a balls-out fast one too. Mercedes is prepping a go-faster GLA 45 AMG, using the 345bhp powertrain from the A45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG. It’ll fight the Audi RS Q3 for super-crossover honours and cost around £40,000.

>> Do you like the look of the Mercedes GLA concept? And what do you make of its laser on-board tech? Click ‘Add your comment’ to enter the debate

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