It has taken them a while, but Mercedes-Benz has finally come up with its own answer in the premium compact SUV segment pioneered not too many years ago by the BMW X1. In a segment that has also since welcomed the Audi Q3, Mercedes plans to chip in with the all-new GLA-Class that will make its global debut at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show next month.
Based on the platform of the new A- and B-Class, the GLA features a range of transversely-mounted turbocharged four-cylinder engines driving either the front or all four wheels. Engines at launch include 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrol engines rated at 156hp and 211hp respectively. Also available is the familiar 2.1-litre OM651 turbodiesel, offered in two states of tune – 136hp and 170hp.
All engines incorporate direct injection and auto start/stop technologies as standard to meet the latest European emission standards. The 1.6-litre petrol mill is fitted to the FWD-only GLA 200, with the remaining three variants offered with the option of both front- and all-wheel drive. The 2.0-litre petrol gets the 250 badge, whilst the 136hp and 170hp diesels are badged GLA 200 CDI and GLA 220 CDI respectively; AWD variants are denoted by a 4Matic label.
Majority of variants are fitted with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission as standard – only the front-wheel drive GLA 200 petrol and diesel variants have the option of a 6-speed manual. The GLA’s 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive system allows fully variable torque distribution between the front and rear axles, and also comes with a dedicated off-road mode.
In its press releases, Mercedes boldly claims that rough terrain such as beaches, loose ground and unsurfaced gradients present no problems for the GLA. Its four corners are independently sprung, following the typical MacPherson/Multilink layout; 4Matic variants have rubber bushings to better isolate vibrations of the rear axle carrier.
After its scheduled debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 12 to 22 September 2013, the GLA will be available for orders from European customers at the end of November, with the first units due to populate showrooms by 2014.
Pictures: Official Mercedes-Benz release.