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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - GLA

Shanghai show: Benz’s GLA breaks out

Covers are off: Take away those oversized alloys and blinged-up headlights, and you have the forthcoming 2014 Benz GLA road car.

Smart GLA concept previews new Mercedes-Benz baby SUV

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Mercedes-Benz logo19 Apr 2013

By BARRY PARK and MIKE COSTELLO

ONE of the world’s largest nations will showcase the smallest soft-roader in the Mercedes-Benz line-up when the covers come off the GLA concept car this weekend.

Mercedes-Benz will use the Shanghai motor show to test customer reaction to an A-Class-based crossover that potentially could hit Australian showrooms as early as next year.

Measuring only 4383mm - slightly longer than the A-Class on which it is based - the GLA concept features a bold, forward-focussed design introducing a number of elements new to the brand.

This includes laser light technology that shines more light on the road and can be used as projectors to display films and images onto a screen or other surface.

Sitting on the same modular front- and all-wheel-drive underpinnings as the A- and B-Class, as well as the forthcoming CLA, the low-slung concept GLA appears almost production-ready.

Take away the oversized alloy wheels, and you have a pretty clear idea of how the real car will look. Mercedes has form, with recent concepts previewing the A-Class and CLA materialising into similarly styled road versions.

The GLA concept seen here uses the 155kW 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine from the Benz A250 hot hatch, which sends power to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Mercedes-Benz Australia’s senior manager for corporate communications, David McCarthy, said a production version of the GLA will potentially be on sale here as early as next year, although it was too early to speculate on price.

He said the GLA would attract first-time buyers to the brand rather than a catch-all for customers wanting to step down from a ML-Class soft-roader.

“There may be some of that (customers stepping down from the ML-Class range), but we would expect that it attracts new customers,” he said.

The addition of such a model should also attract a younger audience to the brand, in much the same way as the funky and well-priced new-gen A-Class has. It will also bolster Benz’s SUV stocks as a whole, with the company currently light-on compared to rivals BMW and Audi.

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