While it's still officially under wraps, Mercedes-Benz's newest project has been caught in action on the Nurburgring testing track.
The still-secret GLA, a compact crossover intended to compete with BMW's X1 is being tested, and will be built at the company's production site in Rastatt, Germany. The concept version of the GLA will make an appearance at the Shanghai Auto Show running this month from April 21-29. A production ready model should debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2013. The luxury compact crossover market is heating up, with the X1 fending off competition from the Audi Q3 in Europe and very soon, Lexus too. All of the manufacturers have announced plans to move the game to North America. Other competitors include the Range Rover Evoque and Mini's Countryman.
The GLA's styling takes cues from the A-Class, but features a prominent grille, aggressive rear glass, a tailgate mounted spoiler, increased height, more ground clearance and roof rails. In spy shots, it appears to have large wheels, hiding larger sized brakes, visible twin tailpipes and a larger air intake.
Based on the same popular front wheel drive architecture found in the A-class, B-class and CLA-class will be offered with a choice of four cylinder gasoline or diesel engines that are found in other Mercedes vehicles that share the same architecture. There is also wide speculation about an AMG version, but there has been no confirmation of this yet.
As part of Mercedes' strategy to have 50 models in their stable, The GLA will be built on a modular platform shared with many of the manufacturer's other products.
The entry level SUV's concept seen in Shanghai won't be a working prototype, but it should give us a better idea of what to expect when the GLA lands in dealerships, as soon as later this year as a 2014 model.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca