This is the new Mercedes GLA crossover, an A-class in combat trousers and hiking boots. Previewed by the Concept GLA displayed at Frankfurt earlier in 2013, the production GLA is available with two- or four-wheel drive, manual or twin-clutch transmissions, and a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines shared with the A-class hatch.
>> Click here for CAR's A-Z guide to the 2013 Frankfurt motor show
Mercedes GLA: the styling
In principle, the GLA is an A-class on stilts, and in the metal, that’s exactly what it looks like. The plastic wheelarch extensions, skidplates and bulbous taillights are all new for this car, but overall the effect is of an A-class on tiptoes, sporting a rough-and-tumble attitude.
The GLA stands 64mm taller than the low-slung A-class hatchback with which it shares so many components, but the driver’s chair is twice as lofty: its base sits 273mm higher than the A-class’s hot seat, at 549mm. A slight stretch in overall body dimensions makes for better cabin space and a larger boot too: 421 litres beats the A-class’s 341-litre loadspace.
Is the interior familiar A-class too?
Yes, it’s carried over completely from the fast-selling hatchback – as CAR’s spy shots revealed last month. Can you spot the GLA-exclusive difference? Yes, it’s the chunkier air vent bezels, which ape the look of the underbodyguards front and rear. Rugged!
What about the powertrain?
The only GLA not available with 4Matic part-time all-wheel drive is the entry-level GLA 200, which has a 1.6-litre petrol engine good for 154bhp. It and the GLA 200 CDI are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard – other variants get a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The most potent petrol GLA is the 250 model, which has a 2.0-litre engine with 207bhp. The fastest diesel at launch is the GLA 220 CDI, equipped with a 2.2-litre derv making 168bhp and 184lb ft.
Sounds like it’ll barely be able to pull itself up a slippery driveway!
Don’t worry. Soon there’ll be a properly fast version: the GLA 45 AMG. Like the A45 and CLA 45, it’ll have 355bhp, all-wheel drive, and cost around £40,000. Expect to pay from £25,000 for a non-AMG GLA when it goes on sale in December 2013.
>> What do you think of the Mercedes GLA: fab or fad? Worth buying instead of a Range Rover Evoque? As always, the floor is open for your comments below